6-Inch Pumpkin Pie with Cranberry Whipped Cream

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This 6-Inch Pumpkin Pie with Cranberry Whipped Cream features an all-butter flaky pie crust with a velvety and perfectly spiced pumpkin pie filling.  Finish the pumpkin pie with a sweet and tart Cranberry Whipped Cream.  A beautiful holiday dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas!  

6-Inch Pumpkin Pie with Cranberry Whipped Cream

Is it really the holidays without a Pumpkin Pie on the dessert table?  I suppose it is, but I thought it was about time that I made a 6-Inch Pumpkin Pie!  And Thanksgiving is the perfect reason to finally test out this traditional holiday dessert.

This small batch Pumpkin Pie will yield enough 4 healthy slices of pie.  Or, if you are trying to go a little lighter on dessert after the big meal, 6 smaller slices will still pack a flavor punch.

Disclosure upfront:  there is A LOT of information (most about the pie dough) within the post and recipe.   I recommend taking a peek before you dive in and make the dreamy pie.

What Makes This Pumpkin Pie So Special

Every baker is going to say their pumpkin pie is the best.  And I suppose that may be the case because baking is so subjective.  However, I do think there are a few key requirements for a good pumpkin pie.  Which I believe all are represented in this 6-Inch Pumpkin Pie recipe.

  • All-Butter, Flaky Crust – Why an all-butter pie crust?  Because it is super flaky and full of flavor.  I have yet to test out a pie dough made with shortening.  But, I am having a hard time thinking it would yield the same flaky crust!
  • Silky Pumpkin Pie Filling – Some pumpkin pie fillings can taste watery or overly sweet.  This recipe avoids all of that by using heavy cream, brown sugar, and maple syrup (no sweetened condensed milk here!)  And when you think about it, all of the ingredients in the pumpkin pie filling are all of the ingredients we would use to make a homemade custard!
  • Complimentary Topping – The tartness of cranberry is a delicious balance to rich pumpkin pie.  And Cranberry Whipped Cream is the perfect vehicle to deliver the light complimentary flavor.  Not to mention, it just looks stunning!
Slice of pumpkin pie with cranberry whipped cream on a small plate

What You Need To Make A 6-Inch Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Unsalted Butter 
  • Granulated Sugar – Since this is a sweet pie, I like to add a little sugar to enhance the dough flavor.
  • Salt – The pie dough needs a little salt for flavor!  I find unsalted pie dough to be extremely bland and lacking in flavor.
  • Vanilla Powder – I like to add just a hint of flavor to the pie dough and use vanilla powder, in lieu of extract, for a stronger vanilla flavor.  You can certainly use vanilla extract, or omit altogether.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – This is optional to add to the pie dough.  I find a little vinegar keeps the dough soft and flaky, and does not add any vinegar flavor to the dough.  If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar also works.
  • Canned Pumpkin – Make sure it is pure canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.  
  • Egg
  • Dark Brown Sugar – I recommend dark brown sugar for the pie filling because it adds a deeper molasses flavor.  However, light brown sugar will also work.
  • Pure Maple Syrup – I like the layers of sweetness in the pie filling and maple syrup adds caramel and butter notes.  You can certainly use all brown sugar if you prefer.  
  • Heavy Cream – For both the pie filling and whipped cream.
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Fresh Cranberries
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Unflavored Gelatin – Adding a little gelatin to the whipped cream helps to stabilize it.  Which is great if you want to make your pie ahead of time and not worry about the whipped cream deflating.
  • Lemon Juice – The lemon juice is the liquid we use to bloom the gelatin.  Water also works.

Baking Equipment

  • 6-Inch Pie Dish – Because we are making a pie, I don’t have recommendations for alternative baking dishes!  A small pie dish is needed for this recipe.
  • Rolling Pin
  • Pie Weights – We are blind-baking the pie crust and I recommend weighing down the dough so it doesn’t puff up or shrink.  You can use actual pie weights, or other options are:  small ramekin, uncooked rice, or dry beans.
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Small Saucepan – To heat the cranberries for the Cranberry Whipped Cream.

Tips For Making A 6-Inch Pumpkin Pie

All-Butter Pie Dough Tips

The Butter

  • Use good butter – This isn’t a must, but I do find good butter, like Challenge Butter for example, just tastes better.
  • The butter MUST be cold – The butter is what makes this pie dough flaky and flavorful.  Butter contains moisture, and when the moisture is heated, it creates steam within the dough.  The steam causes the dough to puff and create flaky layers.  Conversely, if the butter was not cold, it would melt into the dough before baking and yield a bread-like crust.   
  • Press the butter into discs – After many test pies, I found the best pie crust came from butter that was pressed into flat discs rather than pea-sized pieces.  I think it is because the discs cover more surface area, without clumping together, thus a better distribution of butter in the dough.
    • I do not recommend grating the butter for pie dough.  In my test batches, the grated butter pie dough was very tough.  I think this is because the butter pieces were just too small and melted too quickly when baked.
  • The dough needs time to chill – Chilling the dough allows the flavors to develop, the dough to hydrate, and keep the butter cold.  

Preparing the Dough

  • Add flavor to the dough – For sweet pies like this 6-Inch Pumpkin Pie, I like to add a little sweetness to the dough.  A little sugar and vanilla adds faint hints of flavor to the dough.
  • Roll, then rotate – When rolling out the dough, I recommend a roll back and forth, then rotate, until you have your desired size.  I find this helps to roll out an even dough, thus,  you are not overworking the dough to try to  make it even.
  • Freeze the shaped pie dough – Once you have crimped dough in the pie dish, I recommend freezing the dough for few minutes.  This allows the butter to firm back up after it has been handled.
  • Blind Bake the pie dough – You will see recipes that may not recommend blind baking (pre-baking) the pie crust before filling it.  In all of my test batches of pie, the one’s where I did not blind bake resulted in the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ (as Paul Hollywood would say!)
  • Weigh down the dough before the blind bake – Adding weight onto the pie dough will keep it from puffing up.  A puffed up pie crust will take up much needed room for the filling.  I have provided pie weight options in the Equipment Needed section above.

Pumpkin Pie Filling Tips

  • Use pure canned pumpkin – And not pumpkin pie filling.  The latter has extra ingredients (plus some) that we don’t need for the filling, or are adding ourselves.
  • Dark brown sugar vs. light – I like the bolder flavor of molasses that dark brown sugar adds to the filling, though light brown sugar will work if that is all you have on hand.
  • Try the maple syrup – The maple syrup adds a hint of caramel and butter to the filling.  However, it can be swapped out for all brown sugar if you prefer.  

Cranberry Whipped Cream Tips

  • Fresh cranberries – I recommend fresh cranberries simply for the fresh flavor, and they are abundant this time of year!  Though, frozen cranberries will also work.
  • Stabilize the whipped cream if making ahead of time – I have added instructions for stabilizing the whipped cream with a little gelatin.  Which is valuable if you plan to make the pie ahead of time, because whipped cream can deflate.
Close up of small batch pumpkin pie with cranberry whipped topping

Common Questions For Making Small Batch Pumpkin Pie

I have provide a lot of Tips with the blog post and Notes within the recipe. If you do not see a Q and A below, check out the Tips or Recipe!

Can this pumpkin pie recipe be doubled for a larger pie?

You could certainly try it! Keep in mind, the pie dough recipe is for a 6-Inch crust. If you are wanting to make a 9-Inch crust, your crust may be a little thicker.

Do I have to use all butter, or can I add in shortening?

I have not tested a pie crust recipe using shortening and cannot offer proper guidance. There are probably (many) wonderful pie dough recipes out there that use shortening!

Is using the sugar and vanilla required for the pie dough?

You can certainly omit both if you prefer. The result will still be a delicious flaky pie crust.

If I add the apple cider vinegar, will the pie crust taste like vinegar?

No, the pie crust will not taste like vinegar! The small amount of vinegar in this recipe produces a soft and flaky pie crust. However, it can be omitted and the pie crust will still bake beautifully.

Do I have to pre-bake the pie dough?

You do not, but I highly recommend it. Pre-baking the pie dough will alleviate an undercooked pie crust.

My pie crust shrunk. What did I do wrong?

Two things could have happened: 1. You did not give the dough enough time to relax and chill after mixing it. I recommend chilling the dough for at least 1 hour after it is mixed and before your roll it out. And/Or 2. The butter wasn’t cold enough before the pie dough went into the oven. I recommend freezing the pie dough for at least 10 minutes after you have formed it into the pie dish.

I want to save time. Can I just use pumpkin pie filling?

You certainly can! You will probably need about 1 cup of filling, and follow the directions on the can.

Do I have to strain the cranberries for the Cranberry Whipped Cream?

If you don’t mind chunks of cranberry in your Whipped Cream, you can skip the step of straining!

Top of a mini pumpkin pie with small slices cut

More Small Batch Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas

Perfect slice of mini pumpkin pie on a festive holiday plate
Perfect slice of mini pumpkin pie on a festive holiday plate
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5 from 2 reviews

6-Inch Pumpkin Pie

Yield: 1 6-Inch Pie
This 6-Inch Pumpkin Pie with Cranberry Whipped Cream features an all-butter flaky pie crust with a velvety and perfectly spiced pumpkin pie filling.  Finish the pumpkin pie with a sweet and tart Cranberry Whipped Cream.  A beautiful holiday dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas!  
Prep20 mins
Cook35 mins
Chill1 hr 10 mins
Total2 hrs 5 mins

Equipment

  • 6-Inch Pie Dish

Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder - optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar - or white distilled vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup pure canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cranberry Whipped Cream

Instructions

Pie Crust

  • Note -The butter needs to be cold. Before you begin making the dough, cut the butter into cubes and place in the freezer for about 10 to 15minutes ahead of time.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla powder (if using). Add the butter cubes to the flour and press the butter cubes into small flat, flaky discs (about the size of a nickel) – making sure they are all coated with flour.
  • Fill a small liquid measuring cup with ice water – as long as you have at least 1/4 cup of water. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of ice water to the well. Using a fork or spatula, stir the flour around the water, and continue to add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you start to get larger clumps of dough. To check if you have added enough water, grab some of the dough in your hand and squeeze it. If it sticks together without crumbling apart, you have added enough water. If it still crumbles apart, add another tablespoon of water, and check again. Note – The dough is supposed to be rough and not overly moist. Adding too much water will likely result in a tough dough. So will overmixing the dough. Work the dough gently when mixing in the water.
  • Note – Weather and humidity can impact how much water you need to bring the dough together. You may find you need more water than the recipe states.
  • Pour the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a ball, then flatten into a small disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. I recommend making the Cranberry Whipped Cream next to give it time to chill and set up.

Cranberry Whipped Cream

  • In a small saucepan, add the cranberries and a splash of water. Heat over medium heat until the cranberries start to burst, and you are able to smash them with a spatula into a jam-like consistency – about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • In a small bowl, add the lemon juice and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. The gelatin needs to bloom and set for about 5 minutes. Note – The gelatin will stabilize the whipped cream even more and is a great option if you want to make the pie ahead of time. Otherwise, the gelatin is completely optional.
  • Add the set gelatin (if using) to the warm cranberry compote and stir until it is completely mixed in.
  • Strain the cranberry jam through a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl. Note – Because of the amount of cranberry, I use a small hand held strainer. Be sure to scrape the underside of the strainer to get all of the cranberry jam – which should be about 2 tablespoons. Allow the cranberry jam to cool in the refrigerator for a few minutes before adding it to the whipped cream.
  • In a small mixing bowl, add the heavy cream. Using a hand held mixer fitted with the whisk attachments, beat the cream on medium high until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and cranberry jam. Continue to beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Blind Bake (Pre Bake) The Pie Crust – Remove the cooled dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
  • Lightly flour your work surface and dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll the dough into a 9-inch circle. This will give us enough dough to sit snuggly into the pan and for a designed crimp edge. Tip – To roll the dough evenly, roll and slightly rotate the dough after each roll.
  • Trim off any jagged edges, then gently place the dough into the center of the pie dish, making sure it sits snug on the bottom and corners of the dish. Fold over the dough overhang so you still have about a 1/2 inch tall lip of pie dough sticking out of the pie dish. Crimp the edges in any method you prefer. King Arthur Flour has a great video for ideas!
  • Use a fork to poke holes into the bottom of the pie dough. This will help the dough from puffing up while it is baking. Place the formed pie crust in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. By this time, your oven should be heated.
  • Weigh down your chilled pie crust before blind baking it to keep the dough from puffing up and shrinking too much. Some pie weight options: pie weights, a small oven safe dish that fits inside the pie dish (like a ramekin), uncooked rice, or dry beans. With any method, place a piece of parchment paper big enough to fit inside the pie crust, then add your weight.
  • Pre-bake the pie crust for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges start to turn lightly golden. While the crust is pre-baking, make the Pumpkin Pie Filling.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg. Add the pumpkin, cream, maple syrup, brown sugar, spices, and salt. Whisk until all of the ingredients are combined and the filling is smooth.
  • Once the pie crust is done pre-baking, reduce the oven heat to 375F degrees.
  • Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust (there is no need to cool the baked crust before filling it because it is going right back into the oven) and bake the pie for 25 to 35 minutes until the filling is set. The filling should still be soft and have a slight jiggle, but a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out mostly clean. Note – If the crust starts to brown too quickly, cover the edges with small pieces of folded aluminum foil.
  • Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Allow the pie to cool in the oven as the oven cools down. This will help avoid cracks in the pie filling. Note – If you are not concerned with cracks in the pie, remove the pie from the oven when it is done baking and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
  • When ready to serve, dollop the Cranberry Whipped Cream on top of the cooled pie, and Enjoy!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin | Butter and Bliss
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