The Winners!#1: Yura on Madison
Here's the thing about pumpkin pie—it can go wrong in so many ways.
We've tasted an awful lot of pumpkin pies this last week at Serious Eats World Headquarters, from frozen to homemade to semi-homemade to bakery; and while we've found some good ones, we've also found an astounding number of ways a good pie can go bad.
Some are too squashy, too stringy, or too vegetal. Some have strangely fluffy fillings, while others have gummy, dense ones. Some are too sweet, some taste of nothing but cinnamon and cloves. And that's before we even get to the pie crust.
Basically, what we've learned is that bakeries that make great pies might not make great pumpkin pies. Which is why we tasted a few dozen to find you the best.
Per usual, we compiled a list of potential heavy-hitters—through collective prior pie experience, trusted recommendations, the Serious Eats Facebook and Twitter communities, initial spot tasting, and aggressive research, and came up with about twenty contenders. (Since some bakeries that will be doing pumpkin pie weren't able to do so for our pre-Thanksgiving test, it's not a 100% comprehensive survey. You do what you can.)
We divided and conquered, getting pies from sixteen New York bakeries and three supermarkets with decent bakery options—both as a control, and to see whether any of the supermarket pies compared. We then assembled our panel of tasters for a blind taste test, presenting them with 19 numbered plates of pie, and having them rate each one on filling taste, filling texture, crust quality, and overall satisfaction.
What we wanted? A flaky pie crust that's salted enough and not too sweet, and isn't tough, chewy, or underbaked; filling that tastes of pumpkin and has spices (generally cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) that complement the pumpkin taste, rather than overpower it; and filling that's smooth and custardlike, not too wet, mushy, fluffy, or gummy.
The Winners (in alphabetical order): Baked, Birdbath, Citarella, Grandaisy, Hill Country Chicken, Two Little Red Hens, Yura on Madison.
Also tasted: Billy's Bakery, Blue Stove, Fairway, First Prize Pies, Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Joyce Bakeshop, Little Pie Company, Patisserie Claude, Pies and Thighs, Sweet Melissa, Trois Pommes, Whole Foods.
5. Birdbath / City Bakery
4. Two Little Red Hens
2. Hill Country Chicken
And the Winner: Yura on Madison
Their blueberry pie is just about our favorite pie in New York, so we weren't at all surprised that Yura on Madison took first place. The crust had a "great buttery flaky texture, nutty and balanced"; the "pumpkiny, straightforward" filling won high marks, too. "This is the best, for sure," wrote one happy taster.
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