HomeFood and DrinkIn Search of the Great Pumpkin … Pie

In Search of the Great Pumpkin … Pie

Satisfy your sweet tooth for pumpkin this season in Roswell, Georgia.

by Sandy Caldwell

Roswell is a lovely town in North Georgia, outside of Atlanta, with a booming historic district full of charming shops and delicious restaurants, cafes and bakeries for food lovers. As the holidays approach, the town’s chefs and bakers are experimenting with pumpkin, possibly the most purchased ingredient by bakers from October through December. Everything from traditional pie to cookies, cupcakes and even brulée are making an appearance on Roswell menus, and Alpharetta food writer and baker Sandy Caldwell couldn’t help but set out to do some tasting.

A modest little shop tucked off Canton Street, The Pie Hole sells and makes nothing but homemade pies. I walked in and briefly met the owner, Alayne Graham, who was busy making some mouthwatering apple pies piled high with 3 pounds of sliced apples. The Pie Hole has a cozy, rustic feel with a few tables to sit and enjoy your pie and wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen, while you watch Alayne and her staff busy at work.

I was given a slice of pumpkin pie with the addition of whipped cream. After taking my first bite, I could taste the freshness of the pumpkin and flavor of the spices. This is definitely your classic pumpkin pie. Alayne says she uses fresh pumpkin as opposed to canned, and you can taste the difference.

Next stop was the Fickle Pickle, an impressive place in historic Roswell for breakfast, lunch or dinner, also off Canton Street and located in a Victorian cottage. They weren’t serving pumpkin pie, but I was warmly greeted by the cashier at the front counter and given a white chocolate pumpkin cookie. With a nice crunchy texture, this cookie is perfect for dipping in a tall glass of milk. It has the familiar taste of pumpkin, the nuttiness of pecans and the sweetness of white chocolate, plus just the right amount of spice. Forget the pie, go to the Fickle Pickle for this delectable pumpkin cookie.

Party Chic is a fun and yummy restaurant in the heart of historic downtown Roswell. Decorated with black accents, animal print, pastel-colored walls and smooth jazz playing in the background, it’s well, chic. Like the Fickle Pickle, Party Chic wasn’t serving pumpkin pie, but instead offered up a pumpkin cupcake. Jumbo in size, this cupcake consists of a moist, spicy pumpkin cake, covered with velvety cream cheese frosting and a layer of pumpkin mousse on top. The name of this pumpkin cupcake is “Perfectly Pumpkin” and pretty much says it all.

Getting back to pie, I walked up to an adorable stone cottage off of Plum Street and entered Mittie’s Tea Room Café. While waiting eagerly for my pumpkin pies, I admired Mittie’s intimate dining room of dark woods, tea-inspired artwork and a cozy fireplace in front.

Along with the pies came Owner and Chef Lynn Holdridge, who told me about her take on the holiday dessert. One of her pies is actually a pumpkin brulée, served with two meringue cookies shaped like tiny pumpkins and whipped cream. The brulée looks more like a tart rather than a traditional pie and is crisp with a velvety pumpkin filling that has exactly the right amount of spice. The contrast of the crunchy, caramelized sugar topping with the creamy filling is genius. Who needs pie?

Turns out Chef Lynn’s second pumpkin dessert is more like a pie you’d see on a Thanksgiving table, complete with a flaky crust and filling that’s creamy texture and pure flavor of spices and pumpkin is flawless. Whipped cream is carefully piped on top in rows, and this pie comes adorned with a tiny chocolate.

With visions of cookies, cupcakes and now brulée in my head, there was still more pie to be had. I felt like a little kid again stepping into Aunt Kimmy’s Creations, which sells gourmet candy, treats, cakes, coffee, gelato and more. Cozy and colorful thanks to its multicolored candies, Aunt Kimmy’s also has pumpkin pie on the menu.

Served on a decorated, rectangular tray, the pie plate comes drizzled with a sweet caramel sauce and garnished with a large rosette of whipped cream. I took my first bite and was in pumpkin pie heaven. Aunt Kimmy’s “top secret” crust is actually a cookie crust with an excellent crisp texture and not too much sugar, baked to a nice golden brown. The filling is light, soft and fresh. I adored its pure pumpkin essence.

To my surprise, Aunt Kimmy revealed that she uses canned pumpkin for consistency. Even if made from canned pumpkin, I couldn’t put my fork down, proof that the best pie can also be some of the simplest. My love affair with pumpkin pie renewed, I’m ready to get back into my own kitchen.

The Pie Hole Pumpkin Pie

Crust:

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
5 or more Tbsp cold water

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. Cut in shortenings until mixture resembles tiny peas. Gradually sprinkle and stir in water, until dough is formed. Form dough into two round disks. On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of dough out to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Carefully place dough in a 9-inch pie pan and gently press into pan. Cut away excess dough, leaving an inch around the sides for crimping. Crimp edges as desired. Repeat with other disk of dough. Set aside.

Filling:

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk
Pinch of salt

Combine fresh pumpkin puree and spices in a large bowl. Mix together well. Add eggs and rest of ingredients. Mix well. Filling will be runny. Pour filling into prepared pie crusts. Bake in a 350- degree, preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until filling is set. Allow to cool. Makes two pumpkin pies.

Take your own pumpkin dessert tour of Roswell by visiting:

The Pie Hole
1025 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075
678-461-3776

The Fickle Pickle
1085 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075
770-650-9838

Party Chic
953 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075
770-643-0020

Mittie’s Tea Room Café
25 Plum Street
Roswell, GA 30075
770-594-8822

Aunt Kimmy’s Creations
1055 Canton Street, Suite 110
Roswell, GA 30075
770-992-7774

Sandy Caldwell is a graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta with a degree in culinary arts and a concentration in baking and pastry. A resident of Alpharetta, Georgia, she is taking online classes with Kennesaw State University College Continuing Education so she can become certified in creative writing and be an official food writer. Sandy loves a good dessert and can often be found creating sweet treats in her own kitchen.

A NY Yankee in Downh
The Pie Hole Pumpkin
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