There’s nothing like “pumpkin-time.” From growing them to carving them and cooking them. I simply love pumpkins, and I know I’m not alone, as proved by the many pumpkin stands, festivals, and recipes for its use.

In most collections of family photos, you’ll find young children sitting on pumpkins or standing in a field of pumpkins. When our boys were little, we lived in Santa Barbara, and our favorite pumpkin patch was between the Mira Mar Hotel and Santa Claus Lane on the west side of 101 Hwy.

New England is known for pumpkin festivals where you can sample pumpkin cooked in every possible way, from pumpkin stew to pumpkin pancakes. Naturally, pumpkin pie is an all-time favorite.

Pumpkins are a symbol of our colonial heritage and the ability of the cooks of those days to use the gourds in more than one recipe.

Leftover Jack O’Lanterns are not the preferred pumpkin for pies, but small, sweet pumpkins known as “sugar” pumpkins are available in all of our markets today and are the best for pies. Enjoy!

Shaker Sugar-Pumpkin Pie

This first recipe gives you the alternative option of using fresh or canned pumpkin.


  • 2½ to 3-pound sugar pumpkin (or one 16-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin)
  • ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1¼ teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • Pastry for 1 (9-inch) pie crust


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover jelly roll pan with foil and place pumpkin in the center. Pierce pumpkin about a dozen times with a fork. Bake until flesh is tender and most of the moisture has evaporated, 1 to 1½ hours. Cool. Split the pumpkin in half and discard the seeds. Measure out about 2½ cups pulp, place in a mixing bowl, and mash with mixer or potato masher. Blend in brown sugar, molasses, and spices. Beat in eggs and cream. Pour into prepared pie crust. 

Preheat oven again, this time to 425 degrees. Place pie on baking sheet in bottom third of the oven. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes longer. Move pie to the center of the oven and continue baking until filling is set, another 25 to 30 minutes. Cool. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a light sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Easy Pumpkin + Olive Oil Cake

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Now & Again, Authored by Julia Turshen. She indicates that the cake is more like a quick bread, in the same family as zucchini and banana breads. However, she serves it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or better yet, with maple or butter pecan ice cream. Even a dollop of whipped cream or sour cream will “take the cake!”


  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • One 15-ounce can puréed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just unsweetened puréed pumpkin)
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper for good measure and set the pan aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Crack eggs into another large bowl and whisk well to combine. Add pumpkin, olive oil, and brown sugar and whisk to mix well. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture until just combined. Us a rubber spatula to scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth surface, so it is even.

Bake cake until golden brown, barely firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack to room temperature. Use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cake from pan sides and then invert the cake onto a work surface. Peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake one more time onto a serving platter, Cut into wedges and serve.