Next, put the lid back on the pumpkin and place the entire pumpkin on a heavy-duty foil-lined baking sheet. In the past, I have cut up the pumpkin into large chunks before baking it. This was difficult, and I always worried that I might inadvertently lop off one of my arms in the process. This year, probably because I dyed my hair brown and am no longer subject to the inherent stereotypical lack of intelligence due to my blonde hair, I realized that it would be much easier to bake the whole pumpkin first. Yeah. It only took me like ten years to figure that out.
Move your oven rack to the next-to-lowest position and turn on your oven to 350 degrees. (You actually probably should have done this earlier so you wouldn’t have to wait now. Why didn’t you think of that? Maybe YOU are blonde).
When the oven is ready, carefully insert your pumpkin and bake for one to one-and-a-half hours, depending on the size of the pumpkin. I baked this one for one-and-a-half hours. I stabbed it to see if a knife would go in easily, but the tough outer skin makes it difficult to get a good read on how soft the inner flesh actually is. So I slid the tip of my knife just under the lid and tested it there. Even if your pumpkin is slightly underdone, you can still make puree with it just fine.
When the pumpkin comes out of the oven, it should look like this: kind of sad and droopy.
Carefully lift the lid off (I slid my big, honkin’ knife under it to lift it up) to allow the pumpkin to cool. I don’t let mine cool all the way, because I am too impatient for that. I just wait long enough not to get burned.
Now go get a manicure or eat bon bons or watch an episode of Gilmore Girls while you wait because you have nothing better to do with your time. After that, return to your pumpkin, and continue as follows: