- Set the oven to 425 F. Punch a few slits or holes into the pumpkin(s) with a knife for venting while it cooks.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and fold up the edges a little in case juices vent or leak from the pumpkin. Set the pumpkin in the middle of the foil and then bake in the oven for 1 hour. The pumpkin skin will look slightly burnt but is easy to peel, and the inside should be totally soft (you can test if you're uncertain by sticking a knife or skewer through the side - it should be VERY easy to poke through).
- Take it the pumpkin out and let it cool. To help it cool more quickly, you can peel back the skin and quarter it with a spoon (be very careful, it will be very hot and as soon as you open it probably a lot of super-heated steam will puff out).
- Once cooled, scoop out the seeds and guts, then throw the meat of the pumpkin into a food processor. Process for a few seconds, pause to mix it up a little with a spoon, then process again. After two or three rounds of this, it should have released enough moisture that you can just leave it on and it will start to circulate itself until all the bits have been pureed.
- Scoop out and either use immediately, refrigerate, or freeze for later use. (Note: you can also let it drain a little first by dumping it into a collander and letting it sit for a few hours.)
This might seem a weirdly simple item to have its own "recipe", but it's precisely because it's so simple that it deserves a call-out! It used to be that I depended solely upon canned pumpkin - which, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that. But, ever since I found out how easy it was to simply pop a fresh pumpkin into a pie or any other baked good looking for it, I couldn't resist buying up all those pie pumpkins in the supermarket whenever they came in season. (And they'll back you up if there's ever a repeat of the great canned pumpkin shortage of 2019!) Be aware that fresh pumpkin is also super moist - keep that in mind if your recipe is very sensitive to moisture content! I've so far not had any issues with just doing a straight ounce-for-ounce substitution of canned pumpkin (in fact, that extra moisture has been very welcome in some recipes) but forewarned is forearmed.
Part of the reason I started baking was because I like my goodies to be less obviously sweet - I want to taste the flavor, not just the sugar. So most of these recipes will have the sugar dialed down.