Pumpkin Pie

Preparation time: 30 minutesCooking time: 70 minutes
Serves: 10Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 90g/3oz/6 full tablespoons of cold butter, cubed
  • 200g/7oz/1½ cup of plain flour
  • 1½ tablespoons of sugar
  • A heaped teaspoon of salt
  • 60ml/just over ½ dl/⅒ pint/¼ cup iced water

For the filling:

  • 400g/14oz/just over 1½ cups of puréed pumpkin
  • 400g/14oz/1⅓ cups of condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of cloves
  • ½ teaspoon of ginger
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

For the topping:

  • Whipped cream

Make it vegan: use a block of vegan butter, and replace the eggs with ¾ cup of puréed silken tofu. Use a vegan condensed milk like Carnation Vegan Condensed Milk or Nature’s Charm Vegan Condensed Milk, both of which are available in some supermarkets and health stores. If you aren’t able to get hold of either, you could try making your own vegan condensed milk. Similarly, use vegan whipping cream.

Special Equipment

  • A 20cm pie tin
  • A blender
  • A whisk
  • A rolling pin
  • A large mixing bowl
  • Aluminium foil

Method

  1. Prepare the pastry by pulsing the flour, sugar and salt together in a blender. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add half of the water to the blender and continue to pulse until the mixture forms a ball of dough- if it looks too dry, add the rest of the water.
  3. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and refrigerate for about half an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
  5. Lightly whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the puréed pumpkin to the eggs and whisk them together, then add the milk and spices. Make sure everything is whisked together thoroughly.
  6. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and use a rolling pin to roll it out on a floured surface into a large circle.
  7. Gently wrap the pastry around the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie tin. Use it to line the tin, smoothing it down in places, trimming any overhang and, if desired, crimping the edges, so it looks as neat as possible.
  8. Fill the pastry with pie weights and bake blind for ten minutes.
  9. Remove it from the oven and take out the pie weights. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pastry and return to the oven.
  10. Bake the pie for an hour, until the filling is almost set- it should be quite firm on the outside but still a little wobbly underneath. Turn the pie occasionally while it’s cooking and check up on it regularly- it’s likely you will need to cover the pastry with aluminium foil while the filling finishes cooking to stop the pastry burning.
  11. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool before serving.
  12. When ready, cut into slices and serve with whipped cream. Bon Appetit!

Tips

  • The pie should be ready after it’s been in the oven for about an hour, even if the filling still looks a little wobbly in the middle. It should firm up as the pie cools.
  • If you can’t get ahold of pre-puréed pumpkin, you can make your own by removing the seeds and skin from a pie pumpkin and steaming the flesh for 20 minutes. Allow the flesh to cool then blend it up in a food processor. When ready, weigh out 400g and mix in with the eggs, milk and spices as above.
  • Keep a close eye on the pie when it’s cooking as the pastry can burn quite easily. It’s likely you will need to wrap some aluminium foil around the pastry while the filling finishes cooking.

Background

Home: U.S.

Relatives: Sweet Potato Pie (Southern U.S.), Egg Custard (UK), Bean Pie (U.S.), Bundevara (Serbia)

History

Infrogmation of New Orleans, FrenchMarketPumpkinsB, 2008
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FrenchMarketPumpkinsB.jpg [accessed 23/10/2020] (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)

Early European settlers in New England were first introduced to pumpkins by Native American groups, who brought them various squashes as gifts to help them make it through the winter. The settlers are believed to have made an early version of Pumpkin Pie by hollowing the pumpkins out and filling them with custard before baking them in hot ash.

The earliest known recipes for Pumpkin Pie appeared in a French cookbook, Le Cuisinier François, by Francois Pierre la Varenne, in 1651, and in an English cookbook, The Gentlewoman’s Companion, by Hannah Woolley, in 1675. The English version contained herbs and apples, and was very different to modern Pumpkin Pie! The first known American recipe appeared in American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons, in 1796. Simmons’ recipe was closer to modern Pumpkin Pie: the creamy custard filling was spiced and came in a pastry shell.

Pumpkin Pie became politicized in the 19th century. The dish was heavily associated with its birthplace, New England, which was the home of many abolitionists; it was much less popular in southern states where slavery was practiced. The dish had become an important part of the American Thanksgiving Dinner and when, during the Civil War, Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday, some southerners considered both the holiday, and Pumpkin Pie, to be a northern cultural imposition and refused to partake. However, enslaved African Americans in the south had their own version of Pumpkin Pie: Sweet Potato Pie, which was popular at social gatherings and parties.

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