Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

Maple, brown sugar, caramel, ginger, molasses, pumpkin, and cinnamon are some of everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving flavors.  Sweet and savory with a tiny amount of heat, they make for wonderful desserts and side dishes.  I look forward to the fourth Thursday in November every year.  I recall the traditional dishes and try to introduce something new as well.  My sister in law actually makes the Thanksgiving feast and I bring dessert, always trying to top what I made last year.  Even so, I always include pumpkin pie in the assortment.  Just to get my fill, I cook another Thanksgiving feast on the Friday after the big day so we can have another taste and our own leftovers at our house. 

Pumpkin pie is always a challenge since the traditional one  made with evaporated milk, therefore dairy, cannot be served in a kosher home after Turkey.  In addition, I am lactose intolerant or dairy allergic so I have come up with an alternative recipe.  Over the years, I have tried it with Mocha Mix, Soy Milk, Rice Dream, and other substitutes.  I think the unsweetened, organic soy milk produces the best textured non dairy filling.  For testing this recipe, I used Whole Foods brand.

Pie crust scares a lot of people, so they settle for salty store bought crust or just buy the whole pie.  My sister Carole’s pie crust is very easy and yields enough for two generous pie crusts or one double crust pie (like an apple pie).  You can assemble pie crust dough ahead of time and freeze the discs in plastic until the day you need it.

Pie Crust

3 cups unbleached flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco no Trans fat comes in premeasured cubes)

1 egg

1 tablespoon white vinegar (like Heinz)

6 tablespoons ice water


2 extra large eggs

15 ounces canned pure pumpkin (like Libby)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

12 ounces organic unsweetened soy milk

To assemble the pie crust, place the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Stir together.  Add the shortening and with your hands or a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening until the dough looks clumpy, about the size of peas with some whole bits of shortening still visible.  Whisk the liquids together and then add to the flour mix.  Stir for a moment with a fork.  Press the dough together using your hands.  Form a large ball with out kneading and minimal mixing.  Divide the dough into two pieces and form 2 discs.

Take a handful of extra flour and dust the work surface.  The work surface should be stone or wood.  Flour the rolling pin as well.  Place the dough in front of you, with the side of your hands; make parallel indentations going one direction and then the opposite direction.  You will have a cross hatch.  Using a rolling pin, start rolling out the dough up and down taking care not roll off the edge.  Next, lift the dough, scatter some more flour under it, and give it a 90 degree turn.  Now roll the other direction.  Lift the dough again to make sure it is not stuck to the surface. Continue rolling from the center to the outer edges of the dough to form a circle around 13 inches in diameter.

Fold the circle in half and then again in quarters.  Take the center point and place it at the center of you pie plate (I like a 9 inch glass deep dish).  Unfold the pie crust until it fills the plate and overhangs the edge a bit.  Gently press the dough into the corners.  There should be an ample overhang of dough to roll under into a neat ridge.  Trim any excess.  Using your thumb and index finger of one hand to hold the rolled edge you can use the index finger on your other hand to press through where you are holding the edge and make a crimp.  Repeat the motion around the pie and you will have a scalloped edge.  With left over scraps of dough, you can roll out and cut leaves to decorate the edge with as well. 

Set the crust aside and prepare the filling.  Preheat the oven to 400º.  I recently noticed that the small can of pumpkin says 16 ounces, while the large can that is for 2 pies is only 29 ounces.  That sounds like screwy math to me, but who knows.

Put the pumpkin, eggs, spices, and sugars in a medium bowl.  Whisk until well blended, then add the soy milk and carefully whisk until combined.  Pour the filling into the prepared crust and place it in the heated oven.  Leave it at 400º degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350º for around another 40- 45 minutes.  The pie is done when the crust is deep golden brown and the custard is no longer loose.  Let it cool off and serve with parve (nondairy) ice cream or whipped topping.

Enjoy your holiday.

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