Pumpkin Pie recipes and Modern Adaptations 17th and 18th Century

10 October 2023

1660- Robert May “Accomplisht Cook”

“To make a Pumpion Pie.”

Take a pound of pumpion and slice it, a handful of thyme, a little rosemary, and sweet marjoram stripped off the stalks, chop them small, then take cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and a few cloves all beaten, also ten eggs, and beat them, them mix and beat them all together, with as much sugar as you think fit, then fry them like a froise, after it is fried, let it stand till it is cold, then fill your pie with this manner. Take sliced apples sliced thin round ways, and lay a layer of the froise, and a layer of apples with currants betwixt the layers. While your pie is sitted, put in a good deal of sweet butter before your close it. When the pie is baked, take six yolks of eggs, some white-wine or verjuyce, and make a caudle of this, but not too thick, but cut up the lid, put it in, and stir them well together whilst the eggs and pumpion be not perceived, and so serve it up.”


1670- Hannah Wolley “ The Queen-Like Closet or Rich Cabinet”

One of the things I love the most about domestic history is that it gives you an intimate look at the past and really brings you into the time.  I’ve always found Mrs. Wolley’s introduction personable and charming.  An excellent example of really getting to know a historical character.

“Your Kind and Good Acceptance of my Endeavours in Work for You, and that Esteem You have for what else I can do, make me bold to present this Book to You; which by that time You have perused, I doubt not but You will deem it worthy of the Title it bears; and indeed it was never opened before: If it may yield You any Delight or Benefit, I shall be glad; for as You have a true Love and Esteem for me, so I have a very great Love and Honourable Esteem for You; and shall always be

_Your most Observant servant_


“92. To make a Pompion-Pie.

Having your Paste ready in your Pan, put in your Pompion pared and cut in thin slices, then fill up your Pie with sharp Apples, and a little Pepper, and a little Salt, then close it, and bake it, then butter it, and serve it in hot to the Table.

  1. To fry Pompion.

Cut it in thin slices when it is pared, and steep it in Sack a while, then dip it in Eggs, and fry it in Butter, and put some Sack and Butter for Sauce, so serve it in with salt about the Dish brims.

  1. To make a Pumpion Pie.

Take a Pumpion, pare it, and cut it in thin slices, dip it in beaten Eggs and Herbs shred small, and fry it till it be enough, then lay it into a Pie with Butter, Raisins, Currans, Sugar and Sack, and in the bottom some sharp Apples; when it is baked, butter it and serve it in.”

Modern Adaptation of 17th century Recipes:

1 Sugar or Pie Pumpkin (or two cans of pumpkin)

2 Sharp Apples (Granny Smith, but any apple will do)

3 Eggs

2 Handfuls of Herbs Freshly Minced (Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, and/or Sweet Marjoram)

6 Tablespoons (85g) Salted Butter

1/3 cup (50g) Raisins

1/3 cup (50g) Currants

½ cup (100g) Sugar

¼ cup (60 ml) Sack or Sherry

Pie Crust (pre-made from store is fine- get shortcrust, not puff)

Preheat Oven to 220 C 

You can blind-bake the pie crust if you would like, but it is not necessary.

Step 1:  Prepare Pumpkin & Apples

Slice off top, peel skin off pumpkin, carefully slice pumpkin in half.  Carve out seeds and strings.  Slice halves in half again.  Then cut into thin slices, like Julienne.

Peel apples and core them.  Slice in halves and then thinly slice. 

Step 2:  Fry Pumpkin

Set large skillet over medium heat.  Melt two tablespoons of butter (you can also use oil, lard, or any other fat that you can fry in).  

While that melts, beat eggs in a bowl and mix in herbs.  

Dip pumpkin slices into the egg & herb mixture.  Do not overcoat with egg!  This will lead to scrambled eggs in your pie!   Place them into the hot skillet.  Fry until fairly soft (about 10 minutes).

Step 3:  Make Pie

Put slices into a large bowl.  Add two tablespoons of butter (reserve the rest for the end).  Add the raisins, currants, sugar, and sack (or sherry).  Mix gently.

Line the bottom of your pie crust with the apple slices.  Layer the pumpkin filling on top and smooth.

Bake in oven at 220 C for 20 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 190 C and continue baking for 40-50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the last 2 tablespoons of butter sliced across the top.  Enjoy warm!

Stay tuned for next week when we explore 18th century pumpkin pie!

18th-Century Pumpkin Pie Recipes

1796 Amelia Simmons- “American Cookery”


No. 1. One quart stewed and strained, 3 pints cream, 9 beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg, and ginger, laid into paste No. 7 or 3, and with a dough spur, cross, and chequer it, and bake in dishes three quarters of an hour.

No. 2  One quart of milk, 1 pint of pumpkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice, and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hr.”

For more information on pumpkins in Colonial America check out Colonial Williamsburg’s research blog:



Modern Savory Pumpkin Recipe from the Smithsonian Voices Native American Project:


“Savory pumpkin

1 small pumpkin or large butternut squash, peeled cut and diced in 1-inch cubes, then rinsed

6 green onion stalks about 2 inches long, cleaned and without roots, chopped long ways into ruffles

1/2 cup red bell peppers, chopped and diced

1/2 cup red onion, chopped and diced

4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground pepper, about 4 turns

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons brown sugar, optional (you may also use honey)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup water

Prepare the pumpkin and other vegetables.

In a skillet over medium high heat, melt the oil and butter. Add diced onions, ruffly chopped green onions, red bell peppers, and garlic and sauté, stirring constantly. Add the rinsed cubed pumpkin pieces and sauté, flipping the pumpkin over as you add salt, pepper, and cinnamon.

Add water, bring to a simmer, and reduce heat. When the pumpkin is cooked al dente, add brown sugar and continue to simmer until a light syrup forms and pumpkin softens. Let cool.


Modern Adaptation of Pumpkin Pie:

1 Sugar or Pie Pumpkin (or 1-2 cans of pumpkin puree) 

*Note- if you use real pumpkin you will need to prepare the pumpkin by removing top, skin, seeds, strings and then put the chunks in the oven on a tray or fry them to soften.  Then mix in blender or food processor to make a puree.  You may want to put the puree through a strainer. 

1 cup (240 mL) evaporated milk.

1 can (4oz or 414 mL) condensed milk.

Nutmeg/Mace, Allspice, Clove, Ginger, Cinnamon (Any combination to taste.  Usually about ½ – 1 teaspoon each.

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon salt

Sugar, honey, molasses to taste if desired (if you use molasses go easy!).  I find it unnecessary to add any additional sugar as the condensed milk is sweetened.  You can forgo the condensed milk and use sugar, honey, or molasses instead. 

Pie Crust (pre-made from store is fine- get short crust, not puff)

Preheat oven to 160 C

Step 1:  Blind Bake Pie Crust

Place crust in dish and blind bake for 10 – 15 minutes at 160 C.  Do not overcook!

After removing pie crust from oven, increase temperature to 220 C. 

Step 2:  Prepare Ingredients

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Once thoroughly mixed, pour into the blind baked pie crust.  foil the rim of the pie so the crust does not burn.

Step 3:  Cook

Place in centre of oven on 220 C for 15 minutes.  Then immediately reduce heat to 160 C.  Bake another 30-40 minutes.  It is done when a toothpick comes out dry.

Serve warm with custard or whipped cream (Bailey’s is good!) 

Let us know what you think! Happy Pumpkining!

For a great little archive of historical Scottish recipes, visit the National Library of Scotland:



For a general summary of Indigenous American Peoples and more information on racism and cultural appropriation:






Academic References for the Facebook post:

Conway, Stephen. “From Fellow-Nationals to Foreigners: British Perceptions of the Americans, circa 1739-1783.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 59, no. 1, 2002, pp. 65–100. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/3491638

Cormier, Paul Nicolas. “British Colonialism and Indigenous Peoples: The Law of Resistance–Response–Change.” Peace Research, vol. 49, no. 2, 2017, pp. 39–60. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/44779906

Flack, B.M. Conciliation—Compulsion—Conversion: British Attitudes towards Indigenous Peoples, 1763–1814. 2004.  Rodopi: New York. 

Mancall, Peter C., ‘Native Americans and Europeans in English America, 1500–1700’, in Nicholas Canny, and Wm Roger Louis (eds), The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume I: The Origins of Empire: British Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century, The Oxford History of the British Empire (Oxford, 1998; online edn, Oxford Academic, 3 Oct. 2011), https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205623.003.0015



Below is advice from an 18th century magazine for making pumpkin bread!

“Slice a pompion, and boil it in fair water, till the water grows clammy, or somewhat thick; then strain it through a fine cloth, or sieve, and with this make your Bread, well kneading the dough; and it will not only increase the quantity of it, but make it keep moist and sweet a month longer than Bread made with fair water only.”

The Family Magazine, 1741

Post by Catherine Bradley
Catherine is a member of our history team and provides the living history interpretations in the kitchen and laundry via the wash tub time machine.
Catherine Bradley.<br />
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