The pumpkins have been doing well in the garden this year. While there are all sorts of things I’ve been meaning to make with them, I’ve stuck my neck out a bit and written a recipe for pumpkin pie, what is now considered as that all-American classic. A little bit of digging however indicates that the original pumpkin pie may have originated in the UK which surprised me, with recipes for it dating back to the 17th century.
Using condensed milk does make this a sweet dessert, and whilst I’m not complaining, I’ve found I prefer to serve mine with natural yoghurt for a bit of a tang (rather than cream or ice cream). However, each to their own – it’s pretty darn good with all / any of the above! Often served at Thanksgiving or Christmas, this also makes an excellent Halloween treat.
You want to use a small, culinary pumpkin for a sweet flavour and thick texture – don’t be tempted to opt for the largest pumpkin in the patch… You also want to avoid using a watery pumpkin, for which see my tip below on draining the purée if it turns out to be too liquid.
There is no need to drizzle the chunks of pumpkin in oil when you roast them, in fact, I think it’s better to just roast them plain to keep the flavour simple, and to avoid adding any unnecessary liquid to the purée.
You will need a 24cm fluted tart tin.
The Pumpkin Purée
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Slice the pumpkin into chunks, and scoop out the seeds. Place the chunks on a baking tray and cover with tin foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until soft and cooked through. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. Place the cooked pumpkin in a blender, and blitz it to a silky smooth consistency.
If your pumpkin is watery, place the purée in a sieve over a bowl and let the water drain away, while you assemble the rest of your ingredients. If your pumpkin is very dry, you can add the maple syrup to the blender at this point, which is what I did with mine to help prevent the blades from sticking.
The Shortcrust Pastry Case
Start by cutting your butter into small cubes of roughly 1cm using two knives to avoid touching it with your hands, and place it in a large mixing bowl.
Sift your flour and salt from a height into the bowl, to get the air into the ingredients. Gently rub the butter into the flours using your fingertips. A light touch here is important; lift up the flour as you do this and let it fall back into the bowl to create a lighter texture for the mix. You should end up with a breadcrumb-type consistency – don’t overwork it. Sift in your icing sugar and combine.
Mix your egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of cold water, and sprinkle it evenly over the mixture. Use a blunt kitchen knife or palette knife to incorporate it as quickly as possible and bring the dough together.
Shape your dough into a disc and wrap it in cling film. Rest it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 220°C. On a lightly floured work surface use a rolling pin to ridge the dough and start to push it outwards before you roll it. Rotate at each quarter turn, and when it is big enough, roll it out into a circle shape, 2-3mm thick. Lay the pastry over the tin using your rolling pin to help lift it, and use your fingers to press it snugly into the grooves. Trim off any excess pastry. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork. Cover the base and sides of the case with baking parchment, and weight it down with baking beans.
Blind bake the pastry case for 10 minutes, until pale golden with no wet patches of dough. Remove the parchment and beans, and prick the base again with a fork. Bake for a further 10 minutes until just golden brown, then remove from the oven and set aside.
The Pumpkin Filling
Reduce your oven temperature to 170°C. Using an electric hand whisk, combine all the ingredients for the filling together with the pumpkin purée in a large mixing bowl. Pour the filling into the pastry case, and smooth the top over with a spatula. Bake for 40 minutes – there should be a slight wobble in the centre, but the pie should be otherwise set.
Leave it to cool on a wire rack, and serve with natural yoghurt, cream or ice cream.