Recipe: Let us give thanks with this pumpkin pie
PUBLISHED: 12:51 26 November 2015
For Thanksgiving, Frances Bissell turns to her leftover friend from Halloween to make a dense, richly-spiced delight.
I spy maple syrup, cans of pumpkin, peanut butter and ‘biscuit mix’ on the supermarket shelves, so it must be Thanksgiving. Sneaking in between the ghoulish monsters and orange food of late October and the massed scarlet, gold and silver of all things Yule, there is this little festival which is so big in America, and hardly noticeable here.
With a pumpkin left over from a postponed Hallowe’en dinner, I shall be making a dense, richly-spiced pie for today’s occassion. We shall dispense with the turkey, as we will for Christmas; I have given up on big birds. Too much turkey left over; too much faff turning and turning the duck or goose to drain off the fat. A brace of partridge or a loin of venison will do nicely thank you. We’re not entirely a family of Grinches, though. I have a huge Christmas cake maturing in a cupboard in Gozo, which has a walnut theme because I found excellent California walnuts and authentic Nocino di Modena in the Gozo Lidl. I have not seen it in north London branches, but I look in hope.
This time of year also brings Beaujolais Nouveau. Yes, I know, how unfashionable. And yet…. A new generation of wine makers is bringing new skills and enthusiasm to this tired old cliché, and my goodness, they are making a fine job of it. We were in Paris on the day it was released last year and were served it from the tonnelle on the bar at Chez Casimir. The 2014 was impressive, and the 2015 promises even more. There is hardly a bistro or wine bar in Paris that is not serving the wine, much of it brought to the capital by dozens of Beaujolais producers.
But back to the baking. You can use fresh pumpkin for the pie, or the canned stuff, which is very good indeed, and oh so easy! If using fresh, I would chop the beast into manageable chunks and roast in the oven. It doesn’t matter if the edges get slightly charred. This caramelization adds to the flavour. Once the pumpkin is cooked and cool enough to handle, scoop it away from the rind and set it in a sieve over a bowl. Leave it for an hour or so for any liquid to drain off, then proceed with the recipe. Or, as mentioned above, open a can.
(Serves 6 to 8)
250 g short crust pastry
300 g cooked pumpkin purée
100 g Golden Syrup
50 g light muscovado or Demerara sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
300 ml pint full-cream milk or a half and half mixture of milk and single cream
Roll out the pastry, and line a 22 cm diameter pie dish. Place this on a baking sheet. Cover the base of the pastry with greaseproof and fill with beans or ceramic baking ‘beans’ and bake blind for 15 minutes at gas mark 6, 200 C. Remove from the oven.
Mix the pumpkin, syrup and sugar until thoroughly blended. Stir in the spices, and beat in the eggs. Pour in the milk, and blend thoroughly before pouring it into the pastry case.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 7, 220 C for 15 minutes, and then turn down to gas mark 4, 180 C for a further 45 minutes or so until set, or when a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean.