Pumpkin Cutie Pies

There are endless food-focused theories detailing how best to promote health and wellness. Some preach eating a diet that is protein rich, others carbohydrate free. The only way I have ever been able to eat is moderately.

If we are what we eat, then I want to be balanced and complex, mostly hearty, and often sweet.

I practice moderation by indulging every so often in decadent miniatures as I know neglecting dessert is not easily done. Thus, this week's edition of Northern Skillet is a set of Pumpkin Cutie Pies using my Lodge Mini Cake Pan. This pan embodies my belief that a little bit of something lovely, is superior to none at all. 

As I endeavor to become a better baker and cook, I've been reading more cookbooks and refining my techniqueWhile any pie crust and pumpkin filling recipes will do for this "cutie" pie, I used a recipe from a recent acquisition from Williams-Sonoma called Bake Good Things. It's a concise collection of traditional, dare I say basic, recipes for the everyday. After all, it's quite a feat to beat a classic. 


Pie Crust 

  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary 


  • 1 can pumpkin puree (15 ounces)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 whole large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, room temperature 
  • 4 teaspoons all purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

To prepare the crust

Combine the flour and salt with a fork in a bowl. Add the butter cubes and toss with a pastry blender, or two knives. I picked up a pastry blender along with this book, as I knew the pie crust making would be habitual. It's a very helpful tool. 

Cut in the butter until the mixture forms large crumbs. Drizzle the ice water and toss with a fork until the dough is evenly moist. If the mixture is too crumbly, add additional water, a spoonful at a time until the dough comes together in a rough ball. Form a disk and wrap the disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using. 

Turn out the disk onto a floured surface, and flatten with a rolling pin. I used my late grandmother's rolling pin, an old able beauty. It felt comforting to channel her as I rolled. 

Cut out circles that are roughly 5 inches in diameter. I used a bowl and a pasta cutter here. 

Coat your Mini cake pan with Pam, and line each section with a dough round. Form a decorative edge as desired. Freeze the dough lined pan for 30 minutes, and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

While the crust is setting, use the remaining scraps to cut out the word "Cutie" repeatedly, with cookie cutters. Reserve your crust cutouts for later. You may want to refrigerate them. NoteIf you have not yet gotten your mini cake pan, you may use a cupcake or muffin tin. Adjust dimensions accordingly. 

Remove the pan from the freezer. Line the pies crusts with foil, and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil, and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes until golden.


 To prepare the filling

Let the crust cool while you prep the filling and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Combine the pumpkin, cream, brown sugar, eggs, yolk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour roughly 1/3 cup of filling into each crust. 

Bake the pies for 50 minutes. At 50 minutes, remove the pan and quickly but gently spell out cutie on each pie. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes until the filling is set, and letters cooked. Let cool. 

Once cool, the pies come easily from the pan. Impress your loved ones with these darling cutie pies. The guilt that accompanies these treats is proportionate to their size - very small. 

Skillet Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This summer my family and I took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee. Within moments of arriving, I was entirely bewitched by the comfort food, congeniality, and charm. Music blared from every establishment, people greeted us with a smile, and we tasted the love with which the meals were carefully prepared. As a tribute to a transformative moment in my life, I also got engaged on that trip, I wanted to bring a bit of Tennessee home with me to the North, and begin a column here on Pensive Foodie dedicated entirely to traditional fare and cast iron cooking. I purchased some cookbooks, expanded my collection of Lodge and took to the stove. 

Cake. Coffee. Cake and Coffee. Coffee Cake. Two of my favorite indulgences coupled together. This recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake is written by Lynda King Kellerman and taken from A Skillet Full of Traditional Southern Lodge Cast Iron Recipes and Memories. It was compiled by the South Pittsburg Tennessee Historic Preservation Society, and proceeds from sales have gone to worthy causes in Lodge's hometown.

As the name would connote, a coffee cake is served to be eaten alongside a cup of coffee, as a simple sign of hospitality, or a break between meals. This variation is filled with a sugary blend of pecans, cinnamon, and sugar and topped with the same; sour cream gives the cake a heavenly texture and welcome comforting element. 


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups plus 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your skillet. 

Cream butter and two cups of sugar gradually, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, very well, and then fold in your sour cream and vanilla. 

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together in a separate bowl. Fold mixture into the batter. Then, combine four teaspoons of sugar, with cinnamon and nuts. 

Place 1/3 of the batter into your skillet, and top with 3/4 of the sugar mixture. Cover with remaining batter, followed by the remainder of sugar mixture.

Bake about 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack and serve with a cup of your favorite coffee.

For a frequent fix of drool inducing meals and inspiring history, check out Lodge. Follow along this tribute to the culinary techniques and recipes of the South on Instagram with #northernskillet.