quelle horreur

Hey Marky-Mark, we’re off to a bit of a rocky start.  I attempted Mark Bittman’s Pumpkin Pie with his Gingersnap Crust and well, lets just say it was a fall festive FAIL. It all started out quite nicely…but somewhere along the way went very, very wrong.

The crust came together wonderfully, pre-baked like a dream. The filling was easy as, well, pie, and the whole thing went in the oven lickety-split.  I gave it 5 more minutes than the maximum reccomended time, but the filling was still loose, and the crust had puffed up to three-times its orginal size. Cooling completely and chilling for 24 hours did nothing to reclaim it.  The flavors were all there, and quite nice, but it was mush.  The crust disintegrated under the filling and the filling was more like room-temperature pudding than pie.

Going back through the recipe just now as I’m posting, I noticed some conflicting directions that may have accounted for the aforementioned defects.  Now, in fairness, I can’t blame Mark entirely.  I’ll take the fall for maybe a little too much butter in the crust, and not properly respecting my cold-running oven.

So, I challenge you, dear readers, show me up. Make this recipe work.

Gingersnap Crust
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman


  • 3 T sugar
  • 6 ounces broken gingersnaps (or graham crackers), about 1.5 cups
  • 4 T melted butter, plus more as needed


  • Combine sugar with the gingersnaps in a bowl or food processor.  Slowly add the butter, stirring or processing until well blended.  If the crumbs aren’t all moistened, ad a little bit more.
  • Press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate.

thank you, America's Test Kitchen, for teaching me to use a 1/2 cup measure to press the crumbs. Freaking brilliant.

  • To prebake, heat oven to 350. Bake the crust 8-10 minutes, just until it begins to brown. Cool on a rack before filling, the crust will harden as it cools.  (REMEMBER THIS LAST STEP.)

Pumpkin Pie
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman


  • 3 egs
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 2 c. canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2 c. half-and-half or whole milk


  • Prebake the crust and start the filling while the crust is in the oven.  When the crust is done, turn the oven to 375.
  • Beat the eggs with the sugar, then add spices and salt.

so instead of freshly grating my nutmeg, i used a generous shake of pumpkin pie spice. Call me Sandra Lee. I'll fight you.

  • Stir in the pumpkin and then the half-and-half.
  • While the crust is baking, warm this mixture in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is hot to the touch. Do not boil.

unconventional, but i went with it.

  • Put the pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the still-hot crust (SEE!!! Do I let it cool, or do I not?? TELL ME MARK, TELL ME.)

  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the mixture shakes like Jello but is still quite moist. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

45 minutes later, we're late for a party and the center still looks like a swimming pool.


2 responses

  1. “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.” -Edward de Bono

    Wisdom or jibberish; take your pick. 🙂

  2. Pingback: birthday treats! or, how to not follow a recipe. « does that make sense?

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