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Heirloom Pie Pan Inspires More Than A Perfect Recipe

Pumpkin pie in a family heirloom holiday dish. Credit: Cheryl Lee

Pumpkin pie in a family heirloom holiday dish. Credit: Cheryl Lee

I have never been a “decorate for the holiday” kind of gal. As I was looking for a pan to bake this pie, I found my mom’s pumpkin pie pan, which I had not seen in years. I was reminded of what a fantastic hostess she was.

Every holiday meant some kind of décor change signifying the importance of said holiday. Acorn door hangings for Thanksgiving, Easter baskets with colorful eggs and Christmas joy everywhere! Christmas hand towels for the guests, Christmas wreaths, Christmas candies placed into crystal candy dishes. Crystal candy dishes shaped like Christmas trees, naturally.

If there is such a thing as an anti-hostess, that would be me. As a chef I can fill a table with amazing foods, but that’s as far as it goes. I put out plates, napkins and cutlery. Then I turn to my guests and say, “Bon Appetit and help yourself!” And I am often barefoot, because I like to be.

In my mother’s day, if someone stopped by, they were immediately asked whether they were hungry. Then she went in the kitchen and emerged a few moments later in a frilly apron with a fully loaded hors d’oeuvre tray and cocktails. How did she do that?

Mother's pumpkin pie dish. Credit: Cheryl D. Lee

Mother’s pumpkin pie dish. Credit: Cheryl D. Lee

Being an anti-hostess, if you are a good friend, I will generally wave dismissively toward the kitchen and say, “You know where everything is.” My attire tends to run toward yoga pants and a T-shirt. And no shoes.

Finding the pumpkin pie pan, I knew it was time to turn over a new leaf, or new squash, if you must. I knew that this pan was the one to make my pumpkin pie in this year. It’s a baby step toward embracing the holidays and learning to be a good hostess, but it is still a step. I may even find that acorn door hanger and proudly display it on my front door. Maybe.

Spiced Pumpkin Pie With Coconut Milk


1¼ cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cold butter

2 tablespoons cold shortening

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

½ cup turbinado or raw sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 can (15 ounce) pumpkin

1 cup light coconut milk


1. Heat oven to 375 F.

2. Mix the flour and salt in medium bowl.

3. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut butter and shortening into flour mixture, until mixture forms small crumbs.

4. Slowly add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough forms.

5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour.

6. Roll chilled dough out large enough to fit a 9-inch pie pan. Line pan with dough, fold excess under and crimp edges.

7. Line crust with foil, then add enough dried beans or rice to act as a weight.

8. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and remove pie weights. Let the crust cool.

9. Turn oven temperature down to 350 F.

10. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, ginger and allspice. Whisk together the mixture, until well incorporated.

11. Add the pumpkin, whisk until incorporated then stir in the coconut milk.

12. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the cooled pie shell, then bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the filling is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

13. Cool the pie on a rack.

Top photo: Pumpkin pie in a family heirloom holiday dish. Credit: Cheryl Lee

Zester Daily contributor Cheryl D. Lee began her culinary training at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, then moved to New York, where among many roles she worked on Chef Emeril Lagasse's cooking show "Emeril Live," became the Assistant Test Kitchen Director at Woman's World magazine, and served as a chef and catering manager in the city's cafés. Returning to her native California, she has served as chef instructor at the California School of Culinary Arts and styled food on the sets of television's "Friends" and "The Bold and the Beautiful." She is the recipe developer, food stylist, photographer and chief dishwasher for her blog, Black Girl Chef's Whites, focusing on real food, developed by a classically trained chef, that anyone can make.

  • Tres 11·22·13

    Seeing this made me wonder if you can use coconut oil in the crust instead of butter. Have you ever tried that? If so, would you need to make any changes in other ingredients or amounts? I would love to try this recipe.

  • Cheryl D Lee 11·23·13

    I have never made the crust with coconut oil, but since it is a solid fat when cold it would probably work. I would not change the amounts of any other ingredients. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Sonya 1·14·14

    This reminds me of my aunt, who is also a fabulous hostess and has all the coordinating tableware and decorations to prove it 🙂