Sunday, 30 October 2011

Pumpkin Pie

It's pumpkin season, which only means that Halloween is around the corner. What images pop to your mind when you see a pumpkin? For me it mainly brings back childhood memories; the pumpkin carving sessions where my hands used to ache from all the scooping out of flesh, the story of Cinderella and when she was taken to the ball in a pumpkin carriage (I always wanted ride in a pumpkin carriage as a kid), and the hot pumpkin soup that my mother used to make. Every year without fail I have to carve at least 1 pumpkin, it's tradition, and it's the only time of year I ever eat pumpkin. Therefore it's a 2 for the price of one kind of deal; you get a pumpkin to carve, and you also end up with a delectable edible treat or in my case treats.

This year I ended up buying 2 large pumpkins; they were on offer in the super market so I had to buy 2 didn't I? So I lugged these 2 pumpkins home and got to work. I initially  intended on making pumpkin pie but once I start I can't stop, so I also ended up with pumpkin soup and pumpkin brownies as well. I was with some friends and as everyone patiently (or in some cases not so patiently, you know who you are) waited for the brownies and pie to come out of the oven, we set about implementing agenda number 2 ; pumpkin carving. I am glad to have introduced the art of pumpkin carving to one of my friends whom it was their first time doing it. I think everyone has been through the waiting torment, when you know that the cake needs some more time to cook but the devil in your head says 'eat it, eat it, it smells so good'. The tediously long wait was worth it in this case and all of us became pumpkin pie fans. 

I recently got a tart dish so I've been itching to make the most out of it, hence leading to my experiment with making pumpkin pie; something which I have never eaten before, so I didn't even know what it tastes of. Pumpkin pie is an American thing. When I was over in America I remember seeing a load of pumpkin based products everywhere, including pumpkin pie, but I never got around to trying any. In the UK we don't really have that strong affiliation towards pumpkin and it's only really remembered in the lead up to Halloween, with pumpkin soup being a favourite in most households. But for me I have a sweet tooth, so I guess I automatically think of making dessert before anything savoury.

Pumpkin pie is actually really quite easy to make, and I guess you could throw in the challenge of making your own sweet shortcrust pastry if you fancied, or opt for the easier and time saving option of buying the ready made stuff. I don't have that much experience with making pastries, therefore I guess all my attempts are still just practise for me; one day I will reach perfection. I read up on the tips that Delia Smith gives on making shortcrust pastry and found that it was quite helpful as I now know what and what not to do. The filling just involves mixing of all the ingredients and then baking, and viola a hearty pumpkin pie. I have to admit that I am now a pumpkin pie fan. Although I have never eaten pumpkin pie before I love it, well my version anyway; it's the evaporated milk and spices in the recipe which gives it its delectable flavour. Any for those of you who aren't pumpkin fans, I would say give it a go, the pumpkin flavour isn't overpowering and it's actually rather mild and when the pie is served with some whipped cream I'm sure that you'll be tempted to give it a try at least

Time: 1.5 hr
Serves: 8

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (23cm pie dish)

115g plain flour
55g butter at room temperature
25g icing sugar
1 egg yolk 
pinch salt
1tbsp cold water


1.Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl.

2. Cut the softened butter into pieces and add this to the flour.

3. Using a knife, use a cutting motion to cut the butter into smaller pieces and so that it becomes well incorporated into the flour.

4. Using your finger tips and a very light touch, crumble the mixture from a height so that the mixture is aerated when it falls back into the bowl. The finished product will look like breadcrumbs. The tip is not to let the mixture become too warm, that's why you use a knife and only your finger tips.

5. Sift in the icing sugar and mix into the breadcrumb mixture.

6. Add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of cold water (essential that it is cold) to the mixture. Then using a knife, incorporate the egg yolk and water into the mixture; use cutting and mixing motions.

7. Once well combined, use your fingers to bring together the mixture to form a dough. The bowl should now be clean. If the dough is too crumbly add a tiny bit more water (don't add too much).

8. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for 30mins before rolling.

9. Cut a sheet of baking paper bigger than the flan dish. Place only the bottom of the flan dish onto the baking paper. Then sift a little flour onto the flan base. Place the dough in the middle of the flan base and start rolling.

11.Fold the edges in onto the flan base and then lift the flan base and place it inside the full flan casing. Now unfold the edges and line the wall of the flan dish with the pastry. make sure to press into all the grooves. If there are any holes or tears in the pastry, simply patch it up with more pastry.

12. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.

13. Place in the fridge for 30mins to rest again.

14. Place tin foil onto the pastry and add some baking beans, lentils, rice ... what ever you can find to weigh the pastry down.

15. Bake blind in a preheated oven at 200C for 12-15 mins. Then remove the baking beans and tin foil and trim the edges of the pastry removing any excess with a knife.

16. Bake again for 10-12 minutes till the pastry dries out and becomes a golden colour.

17. Leave the pastry to cool.

1.Short crust pastry dough can last in the fridge for up to 3 days so you can make it in advance.
2. You can also freeze the shortcrust pastry dough for up to 3 months.
3. You can add 30g of powdered almond instead of 30g flour.

Preparation time: 1 hr
Serves: 8

Pumpkin Pie

1 pumpkin/ 500ml pumpkin puree
100g light muscovado sugar
125g light brown soft sugar
2 eggs
350ml evaporated milk
1tsp all spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1tbsp plain flour
pinch salt
shortcrust pastry base
whipped cream and sifted icing sugar to serve

1. Carve out one pumpkin. Then place the pumpkin flesh onto an oiled baking tray and bake in the oven, 200C, for 1hr or till the pumpkin is tender and cooked. Once cooked, remove from the oven and blend the pumpkin into a puree.

2. Beat both eggs well in a mixing bowl. Then add the sugar, flour, salt, pumpkin puree, evaporated milk and the ground spices. Mix well.

3. First Place the shortcrust pastry (still in the tin) into the oven and carefully pour the pumpkin mixture onto the pastry case.

4. Bake at 180C for around 40mins.

5. Either eat warm or it's better chilled and served with some whipped cream.

1. Place some tin foil on top of the pumpkin pie whilst it's baking to prevent the top from browning too much.
2. Add some maple syrup, nuts (esp.pecans) to the whipped cream.

Sweet short crust pastry: Allrecipes, Delia Smith
Pumpkin pie: Allrecipes

A post from Fullest of Life

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