Oven update (I know you've all been on the edge of your seats): the appliance repair guy came Monday morning, and of course, the oven turned on immediately. No tinkering necessary. Not even a slight delay. Unlike the dozen or so times I compulsively tried to turn it on over the weekend. I guess it's like when you're horribly sick for weeks and all of your symptoms suddenly disappear in the doctor's office waiting room. I have no idea what went wrong last weekend, but at least we have an oven again.
So that night, I immediately cranked it up to 350 degrees and baked the pumpkin custard that had been sitting in our fridge, calling my name since Saturday. This is truly one of my favorite desserts. But pumpkin seems odd to eat in the summer (at least to me), so I always wait until fall and make it at least once a month until the end of winter, when I'm just barely starting to get sick of it. It's that good. Some naysayers might assert that it's just pumpkin pie without the crust, but trust me—it's so, so good. Instead of just being slapped into a pie pan, the custard is baked in a water bath so it's all light and eggy and delicious. Plus, it travels well for holiday get-togethers and it's healthy enough that I don't feel bad about eating it for breakfast—if there are any leftovers.
(Serves 6 people)
1 12. oz. can unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie seasoning (or 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. allspice)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Stir until smooth. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch baking dish. Place the dish inside a metal baking pan with raised sides (not a cookie sheet). Pour hot water into the baking pan (try not to splash the custard), filling the pan about halfway. Carefully place the water-filled pan inside the oven. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the custard is firm around the edges and slightly soft in the center when you test it with a knife. Remove the baking pan from the oven, then carefully lift the custard-filled baking dish out of the boiling water-filled pan. Let the custard cool a bit before serving, and refrigerate any leftovers. It is equally tasty at room temperature or cold, or served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.