Every year without fail I carve a grinning face into a pumpkin, but often, a couple of days after the trick or treaters have cleaned us out of sweets and chocolates the pumpkin just ends up in the compost bin. It is shame to let the flesh go to waste though because it can be made into soup, roasted or chopped up and put into a risotto, this year however I wanted to try my hand at a dessert, pumpkin pie.
I have tasted pumpkin pie before at Thanksgiving but I was keen to try making it myself with fresh pumpkin. I had a look at a few recipes online and picked the bits I liked the sound of from each. I think the result was delicious (even if I do say so myself!), it was rich and custardy but not too sweet because I used fresh pumpkin instead of puree and cream rather than evaporated milk.
Sweet short crust pastry (175g plain white flour, generous pinch of salt, 15g caster sugar, 110g cold unsalted butter cubed and about 2 tbsp cold water)
450g prepared weight pumpkin flesh cut into 1 inch chunks (I bought a very small pumpkin which weighed almost twice this, however once I had peeled and de-seeded it, it was about the right quantity)
2 eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
75g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Lots of freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
275ml double cream
To make the pastry from scratch, sieve the flour into a large bowl, add the salt and sugar and mix. Add the cubes of cold butter and rub with your fingers to combine the fat and flour. Once there are no lumps of butter left and the mixture looks like bread crumbs add a dribble of cold water so that the crumbs will pack together to form a ball of dough. You can also add crushed pecans at this stage if you fancy. Wrap the pastry in lightly floured cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, this relaxed the gluten in the flour and should stop it cracking when you roll it.
Grease a 23cm (9 inch) diameter tart dish with butter. Roll the chilled pastry out on a floured surface, keep rolling until the pastry is big enough to line the dish. Lift the edge of the pastry, slide the rolling pin underneath and use it to pick up the disc of pastry and transfer it to the dish. Make sure the dough is pushed into the corners of the dish and trim the excess pastry with a knife. Cover with cling film and put back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
The method I used to cook the chunks of pumpkin flesh was steaming but you could roast it if you preferred. I put the pumpkin in the steamer just for a few minutes until it was soft and then pureed the pieces in a blender.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
While the pumpkin is steaming and the pastry case chilling, whisk the eggs and extra yolk together in a large bowl. Put the sugar, spices and cream in a pan, bring it to simmering point and mix everything together throughly. Pour the creamy mixture onto the eggs, whisking again. Then mix in the pumpkin puree.
Pour the finished mixture into the pastry lined dish and bake in the oven at 180C for about 40 minutes. The filling should have puffed up a little round the edges but still feel wobbly in the centre.
Allow to cool on a wire rack and serve with creme fraiche or as I chose, double creamed whipped, with a trickle of ginger syrup.
Best enjoyed on a chilly autumn evening, following a roast cooked by Ceri and whilst watching Downton Abbey.
p.s. don't chuck away the pumpkin seeds, if you roast them in the oven with a sprinkling of salt they taste amazing, better than popcorn!