Pumpkin Pie with Crushed Walnut Crust

Last year during the holidays, I was pregnant, and in the spacious kitchen of our rented farmhouse, I learned to bake. I made cookies and breads, cakes and pie crusts from scratch. I also volunteered at a senior citizens home, reading and listening to music with patients losing time and memory and spent hours talking in therapy with a very kind, wise soul. I felt like after thirty-three years of hoping it would all come together eventually, I had nine short months to get really good at being a person. To be happier and healthier than I ever had been. I packed a lot in to that period and made it count. I was dancing with my Nia class until two weeks before Violet was born. I read a lot of nonfiction.

This year, I don’t have time for anything. I don’t know what we do all day but scramble around and dance to music she needs to know in our living room and feed her and bathe her and keep us all alive, and at the end of the day, collapse in front of the television with a glass of wine. We cook. We look at the baby. We go for walks to town. As I wrote before, there is a lot to be thankful for. It’s not perfect, and neither am I. But she’s happy, and so am I.

The art of baking taught me patience and practicality, qualities I still aspire to embrace. The pie I put together today with pantry staples contains a basic, creamy spiced pumpkin filling. But instead of a flour/butter/shortening crust, I made a pie shell out of crushed walnuts, which adds both texture and flavor. This would be a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving feast, and a thoughtful treat for gluten-free friends and family.

Pumpkin Pie with Crushed Walnut Crust


For the crust:

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

For the filling:

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


For the crust:

Toast walnuts in a dry pan over medium-high heat until browned, but not burnt, and fragrant. Pulverize in a food processor. In a medium bowl combine walnuts, melted butter, and sugar until completely blended. Press firmly into a pie pan, and bake on a baking sheet in a preheated, 375 degree oven, 10-15 minutes to set.

For the filling:

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Pour into pre-baked crust. Bake on a baking sheet, in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes. Cool before serving.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.

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