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Janet Gaynor's New England Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is around the corner, so I felt it was time to break out some holiday recipes.


To kick things off, I found this recipe for Janet Gaynor's New England Pumpkin Pie in the 1930s cookbook "125 Recipes of Famous Movie Stars Revealing the Culinary Secrets of the Screen Idols of the World".

Janet Gaynor's career began in the silent era and she won the first Best Actress Academy Award for 1927/1928. It was basically an acknowledgment of her work in "Sunrise", "Seventh Heaven" and "Street Angel". She was the first and only actress to be given an Oscar for multiple roles. Gaynor made a successful transition to sound and earned another nomination for her memorable turn in the first official version of "A Star is Born" (1937). She retired the next year and married legendary costume designer Adrian in 1939. They traveled between Los Angeles and their ranch in Brazil.


2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon mace

1 teaspoon cloves

2 cups brown sugar

1 quart streamed, mashed pumpkin

4 eggs

1/2 cup cream

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup molasses


Combine ingredients and fold in egg whites. Pour this filling into pie tin lined with unbaked pie dough. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 35-45 minutes.

Special Guest

My special guest of this episode was Dr. Annette Annette Bochenek. She is a film historian, scholar and professor and runs the blog Hometowns to Hollywood.

Before each of these videos, the guest and I always spend time on Zoom doing a trial run of the recipe. Since cooking and tastes have changed over the years, there are frequently times when we have to revamp or even do a complete overhaul on the food to make it work. This time that wasn't necessary.

The recipe required mace and before this I had no idea that was actually a spice! I thought it was simply what I used to protect myself when I was out at night. The only thing that Annette and I had to adjust here was the oven time and temperature. Apparently they didn't have standard oven calibrations in the 1930s, so many of these recipes don't list a baking temperature. We put the pies in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes and then at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. I would suggest checking on the pie often to make sure it is properly baking in the center.

The recipe makes enough for two pies, so if you only plan on making one, make sure to cut the recipe in half.

You can watch the video to see more of our discussion into Janet Gaynor's life and career.

The Final Product

For some reason my local grocery store didn't have cool whip, but I recommend using some to top off the pie. It tastes great and both Annette and I consumed a LOT of it.

We will likely revisit Janet Gaynor in the future, as I'm curious to make her Ice Box Cookie recipe as well.


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