It wasn’t until I heard of Beth Howard that I even considered making a homemade pie.
Talk of Iowa first introduced me to Beth Howard and her cookbook. Across the airwaves Beth told me that I, that anyone, could make a pie! She spoke of her second book, Ms. American Pie, a no-fuss cookbook that takes all pretension and pomp out of baking pie and lauds its restorative qualities. Her casual attitude toward listeners’ empty tool chests of baking skills gave me the confidence to make this recipe. Not too much confidence, though. It was three years after hearing her radio special that I got around to actually acquiring the book. Don’t make my mistake, buy it here now.
For several years, Beth lived in and ran her pie business from the American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa. She makes delicious baked goods, is a small business owner, AND has an appreciation for historic homes?! Sold. Using this Iowa State Fair winning recipe from 2010 makes me feel like I’m cheating on vintage recipes, but Beth made it in the historic American Gothic house, so lay off me, okay?
Historic homes hold a personal significance in my life. My own little house celebrated its 90th birthday this year. Below is a photo from last fall with our dog, Mimi, wondering what her humans were doing.
There are around 15,000 historic house museums in the United States, and all of them depend on their communities for love and support. Historic house museums have huge expenses, tiny budgets, and typically only a corps of part-time volunteers to keep them running. Here in Cedar Rapids, I’m lucky enough to have Brucemore within a few miles of my home. It’s truly a community gem that attracts both visitors from all over the world for its mansion tours, and folks in the neighborhood who stroll the grounds with their pups. Where else can you experience how folks in your own community lived in years past and connect with your neighbors?
We’re getting a bit more macabre, but you can find the past owners of several historic homes and properties at Oak Hill Cemetery, including Brucemore’s past residents. There are wonderful links on the website to take self-guided walking tours of the cemetery spanning several topics including immigrant history, women’s history, and African American history.
If you’d rather leave the macabre to me, then skip the tours and make the pie. I’ll be posting the recipe for the pie filling that originated from Christina Montalvo of West Des Moines and is public, but I’ll be omitting the crust recipe since it isn’t. Just buy the book. You won’t regret it.
Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Pie
- Single pie crust (Use your own recipe or store bought. I used the crust recipe from the book)
- 2 teabags of black Chai tea
- 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s)
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
For ginger whipped cream topping:
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Preheat the oven to 425° F
- Tear open tea bags and grind it into powder
3. Mix all ingredients and pour into pie shell
4. Bake at 425° F for 15 minutes then cool oven to 350° F and bake for an additional 40 minutes
5. Let cool and top with whipped cream (Or don’t wait at all and have the whipped cream melt and the pie burn your mouth like me)
Rights to recipe from: Howard, Beth M. Ms. American Pie: buttery good pie recipes and bold tales from the American Gothic house. New York, NY, Race Point Publishing, 2014.