I 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
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.