Not just for jack’o’lanterns or soup, pumpkins are so much more than we give them credit for. Yes, their innards don’t smell particularly pleasing when carving & gutting them out, & yes, there are much easier gourds to chop, dissect & cook with than our giant orange friend. But, how many of those can say that they can be enjoyed as part of a meal or a dessert…?
Salads, soups & quiches to cakes, pies & muffins, pumpkins are best multi-taskers of the gourd family surely?! Often overlooked by us Brits for desserts because for some reason the idea of eating or making something vegetable based for pudding freaks us out (where’s your sense of adventure?). Whilst carrot cake has eventually cemented its status as a classic cake, along with a place in our hearts, the poor courgette cakes, parsnip cakes & beetroot brownies are usually shunned at parties or bake sales.
As a nation that survived rationing with its powdered milk & eggs, constantly finding substitutes for richer ingredients, I would’ve though that putting vegetable’s in cakes wouldn’t be a far reach for our imaginations & thus here we are (I will win you over).
I’m hoping that this recipe (or even this) will sway your minds, tastebuds & hopefully show you that there’s absolutely nothing to be scared of. I’ve taken some inspiration from the other side of the Atlantic for this one, an American thanksgiving classic, the pumpkin pie.
Autumnal, colourful & packed with the sweet spices beloved in our very own British kitchens for so long. Provided that you’re willing to overlook the term “pie” here, as pumpkin pie isn’t actually encased in both a base & lid of pastry but by all means more of a tart by our standards, whatever you call it though, it’s bloody delicious!
With a sweet shortcrust case & a thick, sweet, lightly spiced, custardy filling, home-made pumpkin pie is a real autumnal treat. I love any dessert that is vegetable based as I find that they bring a slightly more rounded, earthy flavour to baking & are all together less sweet (but in that good, moreish kind of way where I can justify eating more).
Unlike the traditional American recipes for pumpkin pie however, I prefer to not use evaporated milk, I find it far too sweet, sugar alone will suffice & the slight toffee-ness of brown sugar works well here. I also choose to blind bake my pastry case before filling as opposed to chucking it all in the oven together (I’m not a fan of a soggy bottom), pastry should be crisp & sturdy enough to contain all of that custardy goodness inside.
I’ve decorated my pie using the leftover pastry cuttings (waste not want not) but this gloriously orange pie is just as beautiful eu natural. Either way, you’re going to want more than one slice & you might just be converted to the vegetable dessert appreciators club.
(makes one 22cm tart)
For the pastry:
- 120g plain flour
- 120g wholemeal flour
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 120g butter, cubed
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cold water
For the filling:
- 425g pumpkin purée
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 240ml double cream
- 250g soft light brown sugar
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- To make the pastry mix together both of the flours & icing sugar in a large bowl
- Add in the cubed butter & rub together using your fingertips, rubbing the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Add the maple syrup 1 tbsp at a time & mix in
- Next, add in just enough of the water to bring the dough together, use your hands to press into a dough
- Shape the dough into a flattened disc shape, then wrap & place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour
- Once the pastry has chilled, roll out to approximately 3mm thick & use it to line a 22cm tart tin, leave any excess to hang over the edge of the tin
- Use a small scissors to trim the excess so that the overhang on the outside of the tin is only around 1-2cm around the edge
- Keep the excess pastry trimmings, wrap & chill for later
- Use a fork to pierce holes in the bottom of the pastry case before lining with baking parchment & filling baking beans
- Blind bake the pastry case for 10 minutes at 180°C
- Remove the baking beans & parchment, then return the case to the oven for a further 5 minutes, until it starts to turn golden
- Remove the case from the oven & set aside to cool a little before trimming off any excess around the edges whilst it’s still a little warm
- Use the reserved pastry trimming to cut out decorative shapes, place on a parchment lined baking sheet & bake in the oven for around 15-20 minutes (depending on how big they are), until starting to colour & turn golden, set aside for later (top tip: if you want to add some colour & shine to your decorations, beat an egg with a few drops of red or yellow food colouring & brush over before going into the oven)
- To make the filling, simply place all of the ingredients into a large enough bowl & whisk together until smooth
- Carefully pour the filling into the pastry case & gently dropping onto the work surface a few times to remove any air bubbles
- Bake the pie at 180C for 35-40 minutes, until the filling deepens in colour & it still wobbles slightly in the middle when shaken
- Allow the pie to cool completely before removing from the tin & placing the pastry decorations on top