Pumpkin Pie is a Go!

westonbirtI bought a pumpkin at Leigh Court Farm the other day.  I had this idea I was going to carve it with a Halloween poodle cut out and scare all those trick-and-treating dogs that come visiting; that was a little overambitious. I cut the lid off crooked and it was all downhill from there on, I failed miserably in fact…

…Time for Plan B

pumpkin pie

Pumpkin Pie!

The last time I made this I was nineteen and trying to impress a friend who was mad about all things American.  I produced something so revolting that we had to go to a very expensive café instead to calm ourselves down and get rid of the taste. I decided on the strength of that experience that America was indeed a foreign country and that they ate some very strange food there. It occured to me briefly that I might have made it wrong but my ego was such that I simply relegated it to the little drawer of gustatory horrors (the one where the boiled pigs trotters that I was offered once in Greece resides)  and thought no more about it.

Fast forward to November ’09 when Mandy invited me for a proper Thanksgiving supper at which there was turkey and corn bread and for dessert there was a pie like this one. Much to my surprise it was really good so I removed PP from the drawer of horrors and promised myself I would make it one day.

What did I do wrong all those years ago? At a guess I didn’t drain the pumpkin purée properly. If you use one of those big round orange jobs then you have to really drain the purée before you mix up the filling.  I think that’s all there is to remember, it might be why Americans tend to buy the purée in tins. But I couldn’t find a tin of the stuff and I did have my failed Jack O’Poodle.

I read the Guardian piece on pumpkin pie but really didn’t fancy making a pie with 145 g of maple syrup.  The recipe I chose in the end is more or less the one Mandy recommended from the hummingbird bakery cookbook There are some great looking American cakes in there! And the recipes are all in grams not cups which suits me fine.

To prepare the pumpkin purée: We cut the pumpkin into chunks, roasted them in the oven until they were soft for 45 minutes at 170 C. Then  I scraped the flesh off the skins. Puréed the flesh in a food processor till smooth. Put the whole lot in a sieve and let it drip overnight. I toasted the seeds separately and have been doing my impersonation of a gerbil ever since.

I found a dish as near to 23 cm in diameter as I possessed;   a flan dish with a drop out bottom, a proper pie dish is on my wish list now!

I used the Hummingbird pie crust which is made of

  • 260 grams plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 110 g unsalted butter

The pastry is made by rubbing the above ingredients together to a sandy consistency and then bringing the pastry together with a little water, maybe a tablespoon or so. The Hummingbird book talks about beating the pastry until you have a smooth even dough.  I followed all this and the crust that results is what I would call a hardish pastry, the sort that you can hold in your hand without it collapsing.  I think if I was going to make the pie again I would use a pastry with more butter and not mix it so much as I prefer a shorter textured pastry, but this was good. I am not such a pastry expert anyway. Whatever pastry you use, always chill it in the fridge after you have mixed it, and ideally once again after you have rolled it out for your dish. An hour is usually plenty of time for the first chill.

I roll out pastry these days between two sheets of clingfilm and it makes life a lot easier.

At some point measure out and mix the following ingredients together until you have a smooth lumpfree mixture.

  • 425g pumpkin purée
  • 1 medium egg
  • 235 ml evaporated milk
  • 220 g golden caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom  ( instead of cloves which I don’t like)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinammon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 – 2  tablespoons plain flour

Pour this into the pastry and bake in a preheated oven at 170 º C/325 ºF until the filling is firm.  The book says 30 – 40 minutes but mine took more like an hour.

I left it to cool till the next day and we just had some for lunch with a big dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of cinammon on the top and it was so good I had two pieces!

Greed is my undoing.

26 thoughts on “Pumpkin Pie is a Go!

  1. GillthePainter

    Oh how I agree with you on those cloves.
    & splitting and picking at cardamom pods as their sub is one of my favourite jobs in the kitchen.
    It’s that fragrance.

    Tony wants me to make a pumpkin pie. Or at least he did last year, the year before that and the year …. and so on and so forth.
    A Jamaican work colleague made one to impress apparently, and he’d like me to recreate the wow.

    Yours looks wonderful, Joanna.
    & you’ve got a savoury pastry I see, which works in our house.

  2. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Very festive! Much better Halloween offering from the US than that thing with the sweet potatoes and marshmallows.. :)

    Looks delish, Jo, and I’m with Grilly, I like the non-sweet pastry in this context too. I think pumpkin pie skirts that lovely line between sweet and savoury and I can assure you that if I’d been there, I would have been greedy too.. :)


    1. heidiannie

      LOL! That sweet potato thing with marshmallows is for Thanksgiving! It goes with the turkey and stuffing and green bean casserole! It is not my favorite side dish, but there are CONTESTS about sweet potato casseroles. Some people add pineapple and nuts- some make it into almost a tart with a savoury crust. I think less is more with it- and take only a small spoonful to placate the cook!

      1. cityhippyfarmgirl

        An American friend was telling me about this dish recently, apparently our Australian marshmallows aren’t up to scratch for the job, so she was bringing some back with her this week. I’m intrigued!

  3. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Beautiful header Joanna! Lovely, lovely, lovely.
    Now about that pie… I have tasted pumpkin pie once in my life as a kid and it embedded itself in there as something truly delicious and I have been wanting to make it ever since. That want has been stepped up to a NEED to make it, so have been investigating recipes the last few weeks. This recipe looks like a good one! It’s a toss up between evaporated milk and condensed milk for me… the only other thing is, I’m not sure which variety of pumpkin to use?
    …and I think I would have had two slices of your delicious looking pie as well…greed is not only my undoing but also my middle name.

  4. heidiannie

    I’ve made it from tins, and from fresh pumpkin, I’ve even made sweet potato pie- around here- it’s all good. My husband is Canadian- but pumpkin is his favorite pie- ever!
    I like a flakier crust, but I’m bit heavy handed from all the years of kneading and mine is always a little tough. :)
    Yours looks delicious!

  5. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Gill, I don’t know how you could make it completely savoury. As this is only the 2nd pie of this sort I’ve ever made I haven’t a clue, I guess it would be more like a quiche, more eggs, cream not evap milk… guessing wildly here :)

    Celia, I’ll share a pie with you anytime ! Brian doesn’t like pastry with sugar in, so I hardly ever make it. I don’t know the sweet potato thing with marshmallows – sounds, well, sweet :)

    Brydie, there’s a slice or two left for you too :) My limited reading this week about pumpkin types, smaller is better, a butternut squash apparently is a good one to use as is an acorn type squash. I used a smallish orange organic one. I have puree left over still to use in something or hide in the freezer. Sorry it was demolished before I thought to take a pic! Glad you like the header! I saw another recipe today which had 4 eggs and condensed milk and looked a lot lighter and fluffier than this one.

    Heidi, I’ll save the last quarter for you to sample, though it would be a bit coals to Newcastle I suspect! ;) It was delicious and very filling, I didn’t have any supper tonight.

  6. Christine

    Oh, yes! I really want to try pumpkin pie at some point. My mum and I were just talking about it over Halloween and how great it would be to be in the Northern Hemisphere so we could embrace the whole holiday in true fashion with desserts like this! I’m curious – how much liquid drains away from the baked pumpkin? Much? I am smacking my lips at that last picture, yum!

    PS. If you would ever like to revisit the jackopoodle, I know that cantaloupes/rockmelons are very easy cutting! Not the same as a pumpkin but a good substitute :)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Christine, sizing pumpkins.. hmm.. the one I had was about 17 cms tall (from memory) and gave approx 700 grams of pulp by the time it had been baked and drained. I think I read somewhere about using the liquid for something else too. I read about putting the pulp in a muslin bag to drain as well, something like when you make jelly, the other option is to dry it in a low oven once you have pureed it, that might be a nice thing to do as it would presumably intensify the sweetness of the purée.

      Thanks for the tip about melon carving too :)

  7. Choclette

    I would love to have seen your Jack O’Poodle – lovely idea. But what would Zeb have thought of it I wonder? I ate pumpkin pie once – can no longer remember where – and they must have used your original recipe, because I didn’t take to it at all. This looks so inviting though, I almost feel I’d like to make it. But the squashes we grow are so precious and pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry, roasted pumpkin etc etc are so delicious, I wold have to wait until we had a bigger harvest.

    Gorgeous photos as ever.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Pumpkin pie with chocolate pastry? ;) The Jack O’Poodle was a fleeting phantasmagoria. I’ve never even carved a pair of eyes yet! I visited Tutus & Ladybeetles yesterday evening and saw these extraordinary carvings. Have a quick peek! I wouldn’t mind a recipe for pumpkin soup one day. I tend to roast most of the squashes we get too and use them for main course dishes. Glad you like the pics, these leaves look like they are blowing away fast this morning !

  8. Robin

    We have some pumpkins left (we grow kabochas – seemingly foolproof…) so this weekend I think I’ll try Gnocchi di Zucca (pumpkin gnocchi). And then there’s tortellini stuffed with pumpkin and amaretti biscuits … and … and

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      googley doo – gnocchi di Zucca with chestnut flour , gnocchi with three eggs, gnocchi with no eggs, gnocchi boiled and then fried…. I think I’ll make cupcakes… I can’t take a recipe seriously that has pumpkin and amaretti biscuits, sounds like sweet potato and marshmallows italian style to me ;)

      Oh here is a fun selection of 100 things to make and eat with pumpkin

      Think I might go for the pumpkin chicken and ginger leek soup

      1. Robin

        I think the amaretti are a way to get a bit of ‘bite’ into the flavour. I’ve seen recipes that use mostarda (a chunky one – like from Mantova) for the mustard pickle oomph.

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          Do you think amaretti essence would do the trick then, or a slosh of the liqueur? I am not very good at making gnocchi, they always come out like little lumps of chewy gooey stuff, B likes them though :)

          1. Robin

            I’d imagine that essence would be too sweet – I think you’d be looking for those little bitter amaretti biscuits.
            I know what you mean about gnocchi, I once made gnocchi di patate and didn’t dry out the potato enough before mixing in the flour – it took a lot of flour… You could try gnocchi alla romana which are made with semolina and then baked. I made some the other night and they were quite easy and came out light (but rich)

  9. C

    It looks really delicious Joanna! I have the Hummingbird Bakery book but have clearly ignored a large chunk of it that I ought to revisit. I’ve never made or eaten pumpkin pie, must get over fear of making pastry…

    I love your blog’s background photo – perfect for this time of year. All the leaves round me are a squishy wet mess now though!

  10. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Thanks C, I do think there are better pastry recipes out there. This is definitely a firm, almost shop style pastry, if that makes any sense, it is the one recipe they give for pie crust in the book. These were the leaves at Westonbirt on Monday 1st November, falling as we walked. I am sure they are all squishy now after the rain :(

  11. azélias kitchen

    You made me smile with the story of the disaster because years ago when I was about 19-20 yrs old I made one which went down well and when the friend who ate it and liked it made it for herself at home she told me it was the most revolting thing she had ever made and had to throw it in the bin!!

    I like the way way you added cardamon, one of my favourite spices and good balance with the salt to a sweet recipe.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      The first one I made was truly disgusting Azélia, like a quivering jelly like mass of vegetable slime, I remember it vividly ;)

      I made a regular apple pie yesterday, my neighbour came with a huge bag of apples from her tree, and just used regular short crust pastry – and I prefer it anyday to pumpkin pie. The PP is so rich with all that evaporated milk and egg and so on. I’m glad I made one that worked, but I don’t think I am the hugest pumpkin fan on the planet in retrospect on my enthusiastic post above. Damn why am I so truthful? Cardamom is a real Swedish favourite, it pops up all the time over there too, not so popular in English baking I think.

  12. azélias kitchen

    “Cardamom is a real Swedish favourite, it pops up all the time over there too, not so popular in English baking I think.”

    I throw cardamom and ground coriander in whenever I can. Ground coriander has a lovely orangey flavour very fragrant too but doesn’t overpower like ground cumin can.

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