Thursday, November 24, 2011

My favorite breakfast of the year

... is pumpkin pie and strong black coffee, in the quiet of the morning the day after Thanksgiving.

You may have noticed that what you see there is not pumpkin pie. That's because I decided to try something different this year and go for a pumpkin cobbler. Why not, right?

Turns out, pumpkin cobbler is excellent. So, here's how you make it. Or rather, here's how I make it, because I've discovered that, while I'll go for the for-serious from fresh ingredients while cooking, I tend towards the quick-and-dirty approach when baking, and this involves processed ingredients. Feel free to go all from-scratch gourmet all over this thing, if you want* -- I'm sure you'll be rewarded with some excellent results. But the way I made it, it takes only 15 minutes prep time. Can't beat that with a stick.

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Make cobbler crust:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (set aside 1 c. for topping, step 4)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 egg
Cream together these ingredients, and pat into a lightly oiled 13 x 9 inch pan (you may want to lightly flour your hands for this step)**

3. Make filling:
  • 1 large can pumpkin
  • 1 can condensed milk or evaporated milk (the former will be sweeter; either one can be a low-fat version if you want)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 c. (packed) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Mix together filling ingredients and pour into pan on top of (unbaked) crust. Put the whole thing in the oven, close the door, and lower the heat to 350 to bake for the next half hour. While that's going...

4. Make topping:
  • 1 c. reserved cake mix
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 c. (packed) brown sugar
  • pumpkin pie spice to taste
Cut together topping ingredients -- or give them a few quick pulses in a food processor -- until you have a nice crumble (if it sticks together on the sides of the food processor, you probably need to add a touch more flour; if it won't hold together into crumble bits, add more butter). Once the cobbler has baked for 30 minutes, take it out, and sprinkle on the filling, then immediately return it to the oven and bake it for another 30-45 min., until a knife in the center comes out clean.

Remove pan from oven and cool at room temperature for an hour before cutting (I think that 15 portions is about right for this size of a pan, but YMMV).

And now, between snapping that picture, and editing this post, I've already finished my piece this morning. And it was everything I'd hoped it would be.

[UPDATE: Historiann has tried this out using stewed fresh pumpkin, to rave reviews, though she finds it a bit on the sweet side, and decided that next time she'll use less sugar in the crumble. True enough: the cake mix used for the crumble has its own sugar, so you may not need to add more, but you'll likely want to add a tablespoon or two of flour instead to get the right texture. I also found that using condensed milk instead of the evaporated milk gave the filling a slightly fluffy texture, which I liked, but it did make it extra-sweet, so I'll probably reduce the filling sugar by half.]

*Fresh pumpkin? Cream rather than canned milk? Make your own batter for the crust? Grate in some fresh ginger? It's all good.

**The picture above makes it look like I patted the crust into the bottom and sides of the pan. I didn't. It would actually be impossible to do that, because you're working with a thick batter rather than a dough. But somehow, mysteriously, the crust creeps up the sides during the baking stage. I always knew that baking involved a lot of chemistry; now I see that physics also plays a role. Amazing.


sarah said...

I think I'm more transfixed by the cup - IIRC, I was with you when you acquired it. (Or accessories very much like it.) The cobbler looks fantastic. I think I shall have leftover pumpkin pie and coffee for lunch while I hammer my way through a paper today. Happy post-Thanksgiving!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

You might have been! Torrefazione, it was. I miss them. Their people went on to found another roaster, but they never got more than local traction. And I think that Stumptown does a fine job in that particular market. Still: good coffee AND inexpensive Deruta mugs and such? Gotta love that.

Comrade PhysioProf said...


Susan said...

The crust rose up the sides because the cake mix has baking powder (or some other leavening agent) in it. :). It looks fantastic. Somehow I had imagined chunks of pumpkin with a biscuit topping, and couldnt quite see it.

I'm off to my leftover cranberry apple crisp, topped with some yogurt...

Good Enough Woman said...

I had pumpkin pie for breakfast today! With fresh whipped cream. And tea. Heaven.

Love your photo!

Anonymous said...

Looks like the cobbler was a success. I had my doubts but it looks much better than my pecan pie did. It was so runny, one woman took some home in a cup! Next year, pumpkin cobbler instead...

Notorious Ph.D. said...

"Doubts"?!? Never doubt my abilities to whip up a batch of butter and sugar. The women in my family do not come by our rounded physiques by accident...

Historiann said...

Hey Notorious--when you say a "large" can of pumpkin, do you mean a 28-oz. can, or a 15-oz. can? (28 oz. seems like an awful lot--usually the smaller can makes one pie.) I need to know because I want to make this today but will be using frozen fresh pumpkin pulp from last autumn.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

28-ounce can. 9 x 13 is a big pan. Trust me: it all fits.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

So that would be about three cups.

Let me know how it turns out!

Historiann said...

Good golly--I think I might have to make a half recipe! The horses can't share, and there aren't that many other living creatures at the ranch who enjoy the occasional dessert.

(3 eggs makes sense for 28 oz. of pumpkin.)

Thanks for your speedy reply. I will let you know!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

If you go for half, then make sure to use a smaller pan, yes? Otherwise your cobbler will be mostly crust.