“World’s Best” Pumpkin Pie

Photo: Pumpkin pie cruising recipe. Credit: Lisa Borre.
“World’s Best” pumpkin pie. The walnut crumble on top makes this pie exceptional.

We cannot go without pumpkin pie for the Thanksgiving holiday. Luckily, the November 2005 issue of Cruising World magazine included a pumpkin pie recipe claiming to be the “world’s best” just in time for us to set out on our voyage aboard Gyatso.

Lisa tested the recipe for the first time in the anchorage at Cooper Island in the British Virgin Islands in 2006, modifying it slightly based on her own favorite recipe, a spiced-up version of the classic from the Joy of Cooking. David still likes the classic version best (without the topping), but several New Englanders at the potluck feast in the BVI’s agreed that it was the best pumpkin pie they had ever had (topping and all).

Photo: shopping at the Saturday market in Lagos, Portugal. Credit: Suze Bonadeo.
Lisa buys fresh pumpkin at the Saturday market in Lagos, Portugal. Photo by Suze Bonadeo.

For our Thanksgiving in Portugal in 2007, Lisa had to make three pies to share with friends in Marina de Lagos who had never tasted pumpkin pie before. She included the topping which appealed very much to these first-timers from Austria, the Netherlands and UK. In fact, one pie was devoured within hours of being removed from the oven. The scent of baking pie attracted neighbors from the marina for an impromptu pie tasting party.

The true test of this recipe came when Lisa’s sister, Suze, visited Portugal early in 2008. Lisa assembled the pie onboard and then baked it in the oven at her sister’s apartment (pictured above). After only two bites, Suze declared, “I am not kidding, this is the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had.”


1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree or 1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, cooked and mashed
1 1/2 cups (14-ounce can) evaporated milk*
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar**
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp (or more to taste) ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 9-inch unbaked deep-dish pie shell (or homemade crust, see below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, sugar and egg yolks. Stir in
the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  In another bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form (this step is not absolutely necessary, but gives the pie filling a lighter texture). Gently fold into pumpkin mixture. Pour filling into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle topping over pie and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue baking an additional 40 minutes or until set. Wrap foil around the crust if it begins to brown too quickly.


2 T all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T cold butter
1 cup walnuts, chopped

While pie is baking, prepare the topping. In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Blend in cold butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. Mix in chopped nuts. Sprinkle over pie after it has baked for 15 minutes.

CRUST (for two single-crust pies or one double-crust pie)

Lisa learned to make this crust from her friend Cathleen in Richmond, Vermont. She loved Cathleen’s pies and always looked forward to her annual pie party when living in Vermont.

3 cups flour
1 T sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg, beaten
5 T water
1 T vinegar

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in large bowl. Cut shortening into flour with knives or pastry blender until it
looks like small peas. In a small bowl, combine egg, water and vinegar. Sprinkle 4 T of egg mixture over flour mixture and mix lightly with a fork. Add egg mixture, 1 T at a time until pastry holds together but is not too wet (usually use all the egg mixture). If too moist, add a little flour. Press into bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll out with wax paper and flour. (I do not carry a rolling pin on board and use an empty wine or liquor bottle with the label removed instead.)

* The CW recipe calls for 1 can of sweetened, condensed milk instead of evaporated milk and sugar.

** If you do not include the topping, increase the brown sugar in the filling to 1/2 cup.

Adventures while cruising to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Black Seas in a Tayana 37 sailboat


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