Like Pie for Breakfast (Sort Of)
Most days, I like to eat pretty sensibly in the morning. A couple eggs, a forkful of kraut and beans are regular staples on our plate. But if there’s pie in the house, you can be darn sure I’m eating it for breakfast.
I’m not particular; any kind will do. Classic apple is always nice, though the tartness of cherry plays nicely against a bracing cup of coffee. During the holidays, pumpkin pie is perfect for both the beginning and end of the day.
It’s easy to justify as a breakfast food. After all, pumpkin pie employs three food groups: Grain in the crust, dairy in the form of butter and cream, plus protein from the eggs in the custard. Heck, it’s even made with a vegetable. It’s practically health food.
But diet food, it ain’t. That’s why, when I’m craving breakfast pie, I fall back on the next best thing: Pumpkin butter. It’s a great delivery mechanism for the flavors of pumpkin pie, without the added pound of butter and pint of cream.
Slathered on an English muffin, you can almost trick yourself into believing you’re enjoying that slice of pie for breakfast. Well, maybe before you’ve had your coffee.
Grace note: If you want to bypass making the pumpkin puree, you can substitute four cups of canned pumpkin puree. Pumpkin butter cannot be canned, so this must either be consumed within a week or two of making, or frozen up to six months.
Prepare the pumpkin puree. Preheat an oven to 350ºF. With a large knife, cut the pumpkins in half, pole-to-pole. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and membrane in the center. (The seeds can be reserved and roasted for a snack.) Rub the exposed edges of the pumpkin with a little olive oil. Place the halved pumpkins cut-side-down onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a non-stick liner. Roast until completely soft, about an hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then scoop out the softened pumpkin flesh. Two medium sugar pumpkins should yield about four cups of puree.
Make the butter. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, spices, salt and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, and cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching or sticking, until the mixture thickens and darkens, about 30 minutes. If a smoother texture is desired, use an immersion blender to break down the puree further. Remove from heat. Allow to cool, and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Sean Timberlake is a professional writer, amateur foodie, avid traveler and all-around bon vivant. He is the founder of Punk Domestics, a content and community site for DIY food enthusiasts, and has penned the blog Hedonia since 2006. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, DPaul Brown, and their hyperactive terrier, Reese.