this is one of those “recipes/techniques” that makes me feel really accomplished, learning to take a whole ingredient and make it into a baking ingredient. and the great news is it really couldn’t be any easier, so my feeling of self-confidence is probably a bit inflated in proportion to the work put in here.
first things first, gather a couple small pie pumpkins. reassure the grocery store clerk you are planning on cooking with these pumpkins and not decorating. [as an aside: this…and other things i didn’t need to deal with in the south or on the east coast. if i wanted to purchase a pie pumpkin to hollow out and wear it out and about on my head like a hat, no one would care.]
then you’re going to scalp it - cut the stem off. then cut the pumpkin in half.
then scoop all the insides out into a small colander. pick out/rinse away the stringy pumpkin flesh, and leave the seeds to dry out if you would like to toast them. then cut the pumpkin halves again so the pumpkins are quartered. place on a baking sheet like so. i was able to fit two small pie pumpkins on one standard sized cookie sheet:
preheat your oven to 350 degrees f, and slide your cookie sheet inside. bake for 45 minutes, until your pumpkin pieces are tender.
remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool until you can handle them with your hands (they should still be warm.) using a large spoon, scoop the pumpkin flesh away from the skin into the bowl of a food processor. the pumpkin should come away from the skin easily, my skin tore all over the place but the pumpkin was mushy enough to just scoop away from it. puree the pumpkin flesh until smooth - and done!
use in everything from homemade psls to pumpkin bread, to psl cupcakes, and thanksgiving pies!