CSA Swan Song: Pie Pumpkins

I haven’t talked about our CSA lately. Mainly because there have been a lot of potatoes to cook from them…

However, for the final week of the harvest, we were invited to the farm and greenhouses where our goodies have come from, and given a box to fill with whatever goodies we wanted. In addition to squash, gourds and some other autumnal decorative items, I made an impulse grab: pie pumpkins.

Look at those cutie pies!

Smaller than the pumpkins people will use to make Jack O’Lanterns, pie pumpkins are grown for the obvious reason: to make pies. I thought it might be interesting to figure out how to turn these into some baked pumpkin goodness.

First off, we had to extract the pumpkin “meat.” There are a few ways to do this, whether you want to steam them, or even pop them in the microwave. I decided to treat them like any other squash and roast one in the oven. This was where I learned my first lesson: pumpkins do not give up the goods that easily. I snapped this picture while he-who-is-physically-much-stronger-than-I ran out to the garage for a mallet to drive home the message.

We kept the other pumpkins close by, in hopes they would learn from their unfortunate cousin.

Once we had the pumpkin split, it was a simple matter of scraping out the seeds and “stringies” so we would have the smoothest puree at the end.

We saved the seeds to roast up later.

The oven was heating up to 350 degrees while I did this part. Once it was up to temperature, I lined a baking sheet with aluminum foil – because that makes clean-up much easier afterwards – and sprayed the cut edges with a little cooking spray so they wouldn’t stick to the foil.

Ready for roasting!

I gave the little pumpkin (it weighed 2.5 pounds) 45 minutes to cook up at that temperature. Once they were out of the oven, I let them cool for another 20 minutes or so.

Tender and sweet. Just how we hoped it would be!

Then came the fun part: puree! I grabbed my immersion blender and beaker, and used a spoon to scoop all the pumpkin out of the halved skins (which crisped up into these neat shells…we’re trying to think of something fun to do with those).

Beaker. That word always makes me think of the Muppets character. And this pumpkin is almost the exact shade of his hair, too...

What I love about the immersion blender: we had smooth pumpkin puree in about a minute. It was seriously that simple:

Insert your own Devo lyrics here.

At the end of this little experiment, that 2.5 pound pumpkin yielded 16 ounces of puree – which is what you’d get in a can of pumpkin at the grocery store. It wasn’t that hard to do, once you got the darn thing split in two, so we’ll be roasting and pureeing more pumpkin over the weekend! I’ll freeze them in their set quantities, and be set for some truly homestyle holiday baking this year!

But for the puree we had on hand, what to do? I found a recipe for breakfast this morning: Pumpkin Streusel Coffeecake.

Cute as a pumpkin with that layer of streusel in the middle.

Here’s the recipe, which I got from the folks who put cans of pumpkin in the stores…

Pumpkin Streusel Coffeecake

Streusel Topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used Penzey’s baking spice blend instead, just because I wanted to)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree (not the pie filling, but just plain pumpkin. One can will give you more than enough.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

For the Streusel topping: combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Stir in nuts and set aside.

For the coffeecake: combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the pumpkin and vanilla extract; gradually beat in the flour mixture.

Spoon half the coffeecake batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the streusel mixture over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter evenly over the streusel topping and smooth; top with remaining streusel topping.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on the wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before serving, if you can wait that long.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Chef Pamela says:

    These are great instructions on cooking pumpkin. Nice work. I have enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to more.
    Pumpkin is also delicious served as a side dish, seasoned with salt, pepper, butter (optional) and Parmesan cheese. I love it as a vegetable as well as in baked goods.

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