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Recipe | Pumpkin Pie in Germany

Making pumpkin pie in Germany | No Apathy Allowed

For the Americans (and Canadians) among you, pumpkin pie is a clear staple of the Thanksgiving dinner table.  And back home, with the help of a can or two of Libby’s pie filling, a frozen crust, and some Cool Whip, baking a pumpkin pie is relatively simple.  But if you’re trying to celebrate Thanksgiving while living abroad, things become a little more complicated. (Unless you’re willing to cart cans of Libby’s across the ocean, or pay an arm and a leg at a speciality food store).  Suddenly you’re faced with having to make a pie from scratch, using unfamiliar ingredients, and converting everything to the metric system.  Quite honestly, it can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re no Martha Stewart to begin with.

Somehow, after celebrating almost six Thanksgivings here in Deutschland, I’ve managed to piece together some good resources for making pumpkin pies in Germany.  Though it is certainly time intensive, making a pumpkin pie from scratch isn’t as hard as it seems.  (I even did it one year while hobbling around on crutches.)  And most importantly, it tastes ah-mazing.

Making a Pumpkin Pie in Germany | No Apathy Allowed
Pumpkin pie ingredients

So for those North American expats new to Germany, and for those Germans who’ve been converted into Thanksgiving fans, it’s about time I share my secrets to making pumpkin pie from scratch.  Below are recipes and tips for pie crust, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie filling, and whipping cream — using ingredients you can find in any German grocery store, with their actual German names, and already converted into grams and liters.  It doesn’t get any easier than this, so let’s get started!

Pumpkin puree

This may be the most intimidating step if you’ve never made a pumpkin pie before, but it’s actually not so hard…

  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin (Hokkaido is a good choice)
Pumpkins
Hokkaido pumpkins

Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Wash the exterior of the pumpkin with cool water.  Remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and stringy fibers from the center using a metal spoon and discard (unless you want to roast the seeds).  Leave the pumpkin in halves or cut into quarters.  Coat the surface of the pumpkin halves with vegetable oil. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down in a roasting pan.  Add about 125 ml water to the pan.  Place the pumpkin in the oven and bake for 60-90 minutes.  The pumpkin should be baked until the flesh is very tender.  Poke with a fork to check for doneness.

Roasting pumpkins
Roasting the pumpkins

When the pumpkin has cooked to proper tenderness, remove from oven and place on a cutting board.  Allow to cool until can be handled comfortably. Scrape the flesh out of the pumpkin halves and discard the skins. Place pumpkin flesh in large bowl.  Mash the pumpkin by hand using a potato masher.  (Another method is to mix it with a hand mixer, blender, or food processor.)  Drain moisture from the puree by placing it in a sieve lined with paper towels or a double layer of coffee filters.  Be sure the sieve is placed in a bowl to catch the liquid as it drains from the pureed pumpkin.  Cover the puree with plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator and allow puree to drain for at least 2 hours (but overnight is best).

After draining, the puree should be about the same consistency as commercially canned pumpkin filling.  If the puree will not be used immediately, place it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

The pie crust

Although there’s nothing particularly special about the crust for a pumpkin pie, making it from scratch can be a little tricky when you’re new to baking in Germany — especially if you’re trying to sort out the difference between all the different types of flour!  So here’s a quick guide to a homemade pie crust…

  • 250 grams Weizenmehl (Type 550) (flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Backpulver (baking powder)
  • 75 grams Zucker (sugar)
  • 1 Ei (egg)
  • 125 grams Butter

In a large bowl, mix the Weizenmehl, Backpulver, Zucker, Butter and Ei together.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter.  Work the mixture only until it forms coarse crumbs that resemble tiny split peas.  Gather the dough and form a ball, but be careful that you don’t overwork the dough. For 1 pie crust, flatten the ball of dough into 4-6 inch disc and place on a cool, lightly floured surface.

Starting in the center of the flattened disc, roll outwards.  With every couple of rolls, turn the dough a quarter of a turn to produce a round crust.  Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour when it shows signs of sticking (but only use when necessary).  Roll crust to approximately 1/8 inch in thickness and 2 inches in diameter larger than an inverted 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan. (Since pie pans are hard to come by, you can also use a cake spring form pan, which works just fine.)

To transfer the crust to the cake pan, partially wrap the crust around the rolling pin and gently lift the crust onto the pie plate, being careful to get it center over the plate and not stretch the dough.  Once it is in place, unroll the crust from the rolling pin.  Gently press the crust against the bottom and sides of the pie plate.  Trim the overhang to about 1 inch.  Fold the overhang under so that it is flush with the rim of the pie plate.  Flute the edge to finish it.  Place the finished crust in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking or filling.

Pumpkin pie filling

Now that you’ve got the crust and puree finished, it’s time for the fun part. Ever wonder what the real pumpkin pie ingredients were?  Now you get see for yourself!

  • 350 grams** Kürbispüree (pumpkin puree)
  • 150 grams brauner Zucker (brown sugar — despite the direct translation, this is not the same thing as in the US, but that’s ok for this recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ingwer (ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Muskatnuß (nutmeg)
  • 1 teaspoon Zimt (cinnamon)
  • Pinch of gemahlene Nelken (ground cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons of Zuckerrübensirup (substitute for molasses)
  • 3 Eier verquirlt (stirred eggs)
  • 200-250 ml Schlagsahne (whipping cream)

Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius.  Add the brauner Zucker to the Kürbispüree and Schlagsahne.  Beat until well-blended.  Add the Ingwer, Muskatnuß, Zimt, and Nelken.  Stir into the pumpkin mixture.  Add Zuckerrübensirup and beat until well blended. Add the Eier to the mixture. Beat the Eier until thoroughly mixed.  Poor the mixture into the unbaked pie shell.  Bake for about 45 minutes.

** A reader tip from Natalie on gauging the amount of puree you’ll get from your pumpkin — her 1.9kg pumpkin resulted in 837g puree, or about half of the total weight of the pumpkin.  Thanks for sharing Natalie!  **

Making a Pumpkin Pie in Germany | No Apathy Allowed
Making Pumpkin Pie

Check after 30 minutes to see if it looks like the crust is going to brown too much.  If so, place a piece of foil over the pie.  Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of baking time so crust will finish browning.  To check for doneness, insert the tip of a table knife in about 1 inch from the center. The knife will come out clean if the pie is done.

Whipped cream

And finally, there’s usually no Cool Whip to be found in these parts, but making your own whipped cream is really simple…

  • 1 liter Schlagsahne (whipping cream)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanille Aroma (vanilla aroma)
  • 110 grams Puderzucker (powdered sugar)

Mix the liquid ingredients in a bowl.  Mix in the Puderzucker.  Whip the mixture with an electric hand mixer until raised peaks form and hold their shape.  It should take about four minutes (or much longer if using a manual hand mixer or whisk — but don’t mix for too long, or it will turn into butter).  Serve and enjoy!

That’s all there is to it, folks.  I really promise, if I can do it, so can you!  I would really love to have you share your tips (or questions) about how to make a pumpkin pie in Germany in the comments below.  Otherwise, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving next week, no matter where in the world you’re celebrating!

Looking for other posts about celebrating Thanksgiving abroad?  You might find these interesting:

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48 comments

  1. Jul says:

    I too learned to suck it up and make pumpkin pies from scratch a few years back, and I’m so glad I did. I don’t think I’d ever go back to canned pumpkin, given how easy roasting a real pumpkin is (or butternut squash works great too). Can’t wait to eat pie leftovers later today. Mmmm.

  2. Lori says:

    I found your recipe in a google search trying to figure out whether or not I could make pumpkin pie with Hokkaido pumpkin. I live in Prague, Czech Republic, and we Americans have similar issues here when it comes to pumpkin pie! I will definitely try your recipe.
    The brown sugar – is it just unrefined sugar, like demerara? I do have “American” brown sugar at home (there’s a Marks & Spencer here); should I use that?
    I’ll have to explore more of your blog; we’d like to see more of Germany while we’re still in Europe.

    • Hi Lori! Thanks for stopping by. The “brauner Zucker” in the recipe is more than just raw, unrefined sugar, but not exactly like American brown sugar either. I suspect that the the “brauner Zucker” and the “Zuckerrübensirup” (essentially molasses) in the recipe probably combine to make something like our American brown sugar. So you might want to play around a bit with the recipe if you actually have brown sugar! If you try out the recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      Obviously, I am a big fan of Germany — you’ll certainly enjoy yourself here. I have yet to visit Prague, but it’s on my list!

  3. Meghan says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to compile and post this! We used your recipe for our first Canadian Thanksgiving here in Germany and it turned out so well I am making more to give to curious work mates.

  4. Chloe says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am now living in Regensburg, Bayern and all I can think about with the leaves changing is a creamy pumpkin pie!!

  5. jen says:

    Loved this post, nice work. I’ve been an expat for about seven years in Germany and have had pretty much the same experience! It’s actually been kind of freeing and empowering being forced to make things from scratch (albeit frustrating at times!) I feel like a “real” cook and baker now…much better and more adventurous than I ever was using mixes and canned stuff in the states! One thing I discovered (after years of bringing back brown sugar and vanilla extract in my suitcase after a visit home!) Is that mascobado vollrohrzucker is an excellent sub for american brown sugar. I get mine at Bio Company and they have it at a bunch of health stores here. It’s surprisingly easy to find and it even sort clumps together for when you need a “cup, packed brown sugar” like most american recipes. Also, if you soak vanilla beans in vodka you can easily make your own vanilla extract that tastes exactly like american stuff…better than german “vanille aroma” that can often be too sweet. Happy thanksgiving!!

    • Jen, thanks so much for your sweet comment! I totally agree, and am glad to have had this experience — I will never go back to canned pumpkin pie again now that I know that homemade tastes so much better and is totally doable even for people like me. :) I love your brown sugar tip and will keep my eyes open for Mascobado Vollrohrzucker at my local Biomarkt. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

  6. Edmond says:

    A moist ‘Natural Dark Muscovado unrefined brown soft sugar’ with a rich molasses flavor can be had at Kaufhof’s fine food section. Imported from UK, brand Billington’s.

    It’s going in your recipe right now…

    -happy thanksgiving and Thank you so much for taking such good care for our pie!

    Edmond ExPat from Napa, CA since ’01

  7. Linda S. says:

    Thanks for posting this amazing recipe! My husband and I used it to create our very first homemade pumpkin pie, and it was absolutely the best pumpkin pie that I’ve ever had. Love your site also!

  8. Tania says:

    Hi,

    I live in France for the past 8 years. This is the first year that I crave pumpkin pie and I am glad that I found your recipe in mertric system.
    I use a much easier pie crust recipe. Here in France it is called pâte brisé or sablé which is like your recipe except no sugar or Backpulver. I don’t even have to use any Gerät to mix (just my hands). I use it to make quiche and it turns out very yummy and flaky.

    As for the pie filling, is molases necessary, oder kann man darauf verzichten?

    Thanks for your prompt reply,
    u. bis bald,

    Tania

    • Hi Tania,

      Thanks for your tip about the crust!

      As for the molasses/Zuckerrübensirup, it is quite essential to the taste of the pie. I’ve seen that you can also use equal parts honey or pure maple syrup, but I haven’t experimented with these myself. If you do, please let me know how it turns out!

      Best,
      Mandi

  9. Anka says:

    Ohh I’m so happy I found your recipe because I prefer making everything from scratch with fresh ingredients. Thanks for sharing it ! I have a question, what do i do withe the liquid from draining the pumpkin, cause in your recipe you advice to catch it in a bowl.

    • Hi Anka, thanks for stopping by my blog! The liquid drained from the pumpkin puree can be thrown out. The bowl is just to prevent it from leaking all over the place. :) Please let me know how your pies turn out!

  10. Lucy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! I am from Germany and spent a while in New England where everything is topped with pumpkin spice during autumn! That’s how I learnt to love pumpkin pie!

  11. Karina says:

    Hello,
    thanks for your recipe, I look forward to giving it a try tomorrow! Just wondering if I should buy 1 or 2 Hokkaido pumpkins. Your recipe calls for 1; however, you have 2 pictured (was it just because they were a bit on the small side?)

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Karina, it definitely depends on the size of the pumpkin. Those in the photo were indeed on the small side. Unfortunately I don’t know the exact weight of the pumpkin you would need to buy to equal the purée in the recipe — I have always just guesstimated! This year I will be a little more exact though and update this post accordingly. Hope your pie turns out delicious!!

  12. Natalie says:

    Someone asked how much pumpkin puree comes from one pumpkin, my 1.9kg pumpkin resulted in 837g puree. So, about half. I’m looking forward to finishing up the pies tonight! Thank you so much for the recipie!

  13. Suzanne says:

    I just found your blog, (after Thanksgiving) but I’m going to try this recipe while we’re still in the pumpkin season. We make our pumpkin pie crustless in ramekins. (We have a celiac in our family and I have yet to find a great recipe for a gluten-free crust.) I have found dark brown soft sugar in Asian food stores (Vin Loh). Tate + Lyle from the UK and fair trade. Great for those recipes that call for packed brown sugar.

  14. Lina says:

    Hi, I just found this recipe, because I would love to try baking one and I’m from Germany. Thanks a little for this!

    I know this recipe was posted a while ago already, but I have a suggestion that could improve it still a little further ;) I would strongly suggest that you take not the 405 type flour but 550, because there’s still a little of those good parts of the wheat you can find in whole wheat flour in it. 405 is sieved to death. So just take the 550 whenever you possibly can for baking :o)

  15. Tara says:

    Thankyou! I just promised pumpkin pie for American Thanksgiving and realized at the store that they don’t have pumpkin pie puree here! (I brought the pumpkin pie spice from home!)

  16. Steph says:

    Thanks for the great recipe! I had a Thanksgiving dinner with friends in Germany and this was the perfect finale. For a pumpkin I used a Sweet Berry, they’re supposed to be good for sweet dishes and thus one definitely was! I also made the crust with weizenvollkornmehl rather than white flour and the somewhat heartier taste paired really well with the pumpkin filling :)

  17. David says:

    You can make a simple graham cracker style crust using cookies found in Germany called hobits and butter. Simply grind up the cookies and mix with melted butter then press into your pie pan. Delicious and a little less work than a flour crust. Sorry i don’t have exact measurements, I just make it on the fly.

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