It’s time for some good ol’ pumpkin pie! Serve this at any holiday table, and people will ask for more. The filling is sweetened with dates and thickened with a bit of oat flour. The pecan-date crust is like a sweet, crumbly cookie. Grab a fork and dig in!
Pecan-Date Pie Crust
1¼ cups rolled oats
½ cup pecan halves (2 ounces)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
5 Medjool dates (2½ ounces)
1½ tablespoons non-dairy milk
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle position. Place the oats, pecans and cinnamon in a food processor and blend until ground, about 30 to 40 seconds. This should be pretty finely ground but don’t worry if it’s not as fine as packaged flour. A little texture is okay (see photos below).
2. Add the chopped dates and blend for about 1 minute, until the mixture starts to clump slightly. Add the non-dairy milk, and blend until the mixture balls up like dough (this will happen quickly).
3. You could press the dough into the pie pan with your fingers, which may take a little longer, or you can roll it out with a rolling pin. I like to roll it out: place the dough on a flat surface (you do not need to chill it). I like to use a flexible cutting board for this because it makes it easier to transfer the rolled out crust to the pie pan. You can also use a big piece of parchment paper under the dough. You don’t really need to flour the surface before rolling out the dough, but you can if you like.
4. Place the ball of dough into the center of the cutting board and roll out from the center, turning the board each time to roll away from you. Roll out until the dough is about an eighth of an inch thick, pretty much as thin as you can get it without it breaking and making it difficult to handle. Roll out into a circle that is slightly bigger that the pie pan (to account for the sloped edges of the pan). You can also place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough while you’re rolling it out. If the circle is irregular, just borrow a piece from another area and press it in. This dough is pretty forgiving and you can easily add patches as needed.
5. After rolling out the dough. turn the rolled out crust over and gently place it over a standard size pie pan (not a deep dish), peeling off the parchment paper or flexible cutting board (that was under the dough); a tapered spatula can also be helpful in easing the dough off the cutting board. Ease the crust into the contours of the pie pan gently. Lightly press it into place. Trim any edges, and do a decorative edge if you like; just don’t wrap the crust over the edge since this will make it harder to cut after it’s cooked. You do not need to poke it with a knife or weight it down.
6. Place the pie pan on a metal cookie sheet or pizza pan (this helps the bottom of the crust cook better), and then place a piece of aluminum foil over the entire crust, just slightly tucking down the corners. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
To see a video of me making the Pecan-date Pie Crust, click below:
Pumpkin Pie Filling
8 Medjool dates (4 ounces), pitted and chopped
¾ cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup rolled oats, ground into flour (or ¼ cup flour)
1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 can (15 ounces) cooked pumpkin (not “pumpkin pie mix”), or 1¾ cups
1. Lower heat of oven to 350 degrees. Place the dates, the non-dairy milk, and the vanilla extract into a blender. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, to allow the dates to soften.
2. In a medium-large mixing bowl, add the oat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove and mix with a fork. Add the pumpkin.
3. Blend the dates, non-dairy milk and vanilla on high speed until smooth. Add this to the bowl of pumpkin and spices. Using an electric beater, blend until smooth. Scrape into the pre-baked pie crust and smooth out evenly.
4. Using the foil from baking the pie crust, create a few 2-inch strips and gently wrap them around the top edge of the pie (so that the crust does not get overcooked or burnt, see photo below). Place back on the baking sheet that you used to cook the crust. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
5. Remove and cool. Pumpkin pie benefits from a long rest period before eating; I recommend making it the night before you’re serving it. By morning it should be set up nicely. If you need to serve it the same day, make it at least 3 hours before you’ll be serving it, otherwise it may be too pudding-like. Putting it in the refrigerator also helps to speed up firming. If you want to serve it warm, thoroughly cool it, then put it back into the oven on a low setting (200 degrees) to warm it. Serve as is or with a light dusting of grated nuts (see below). If you’d like to add a topping, try some Nutty Frosting (at the end of the Pumpkin Pie Squares recipe).
Above: Gently press the crust dough into the pan, pressing it up as far as you like and keeping the edge plain (as in the photo) or adding a decorative touch with the back of a fork or with your fingers.
Above: The uncooked crust is more like clay than stretchy dough, and is very easy to roll out and work with. If you have a gap in the dough while rolling, cut a piece from another area to press into the edges of the gap. It will seam together nicely. The dough should be rolled out thinly, as shown above.
Above: Protect the crust edges by gently adding a foil rim to the pie before baking. Setting it on a baking sheet helps the crust cook better.
Above: The baked pie. To create the pattern on the top, use a cake frosting spatula or similar broad knife, and hold it at the outer edge of the pie (in one place) while turning the pie pan. If you mess up, just start over.
Above: The baked pie, showing the thickness of the crust. The filling sets up nicely: not to thick or gelatinous, and not pudding-like, either.
Above: If you’d like to add a little something extra, use a rotary cheese grater to grate some walnuts or pecans on top.
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