Maggie's No-Fail Pumpkin Pie - Detail - © 2013 maggiejs

Fall Food Fad: Pumpkin Pie Spice!

It’s all over the place this fall… Pumpkin Pie Spice is taking over baked goods, beverages and even the air freshener sector. What’s the attraction? Nothing less than a unique, sweet/savoury/nutty combination of flavours that says, “More!” in every language known to the culinary world…

Maggie,s No-Fail Pumpkin Pie - © 2013 maggiejs.caMy own no-fail Pumpkin Pie. I’ll stand it up against anybody else’s. Any Time.

I’ve been part of many conversations over the past few weeks, especially around Canadian Thanksgiving, about what’s in Pumpkin Pie Spice. The answer is: like Curry Masala, Spaghetti Sauce, Chili and many other regional specialty flavours, Pumpkin Pie Spice has as many variations as there are people who make it. I know that sounds discouraging, when we’re just setting out on a quest for the recipe, but there’s a positive hook. No matter whose blend you look at, there are some ingredients that always appear…

Here’s the skinny…

Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg and Cloves are the basis of virtually all Pumpkin Pie Spice blends. Some folks add Allspice (which sounds like duplication to me), Mace, Cardamon, and Anise. Vanilla may seem like an obvious choice. but most blends don’t mention it, because it’s usually added as liquid extract, at another stage of recipe preparation than the dry spices. But don’t forget it!

Here’s my take, and my mother’s take and her mother’s take on pumpkin Pie spice:

  • 2 parts Nutmeg
  • 1 part Cinnamon
  • 1 part Ginger
  • 1/2 part Cloves

I know that the recommendation of 1/2 part cloves sounds like a lot. But that’s merely 1 part out of five and the spice blend will be used judiciously in any recipe where it appears. You still want it to punch your palate – albeit gently – and you want to taste those core flavours distinctly against the Pumpkin, or whatever you stand them up against.

Have some fun!

Mix up a big jar of Pumpkin Pie Spice and start baking, brewing and whatever else you can think of. Play with the basic proportions of the constituent spices and try adding other stuff, if the spirit moves you. ‘Tis the season, right through New Years! And be sure to share your favourite Pumpkin Pie spice creations with us!

~ Maggie J.