Regrets – I’ve had a few – and that includes eating traditional American pumpkin pie.
All my American friends love it. I find it sickly and dull. I think it’s one of those things, like Marmite, that you either grow up with and have an abiding fondness for or loathe at first bite.
At one Thanksgiving dinner in London, an English friend made a valiant effort to seduce our US allies into eating a more flavoursome version. She failed utterly, although us Brits liked it much better than the original.
I’ve taken Angela’s recipe and added pecans in the forlorn hope that they will help my husband to look beyond his dislike of pumpkin.
This is (or so I read) an accepted variation on the theme of pumpkin pie. The nuts add crunch and and the citrus lifts the sweetness.
So for anyone who wants to try something slightly different this Thanksgiving – here’s Pumpkin Pie Did It My Way. Take it away, Frank …
Pumpkin Pie Did It My Way
I made my own pumpkin puree because I’ve got pumpkins, metaphorically speaking, coming out of my ears but the tinned stuff will work too. You’ll need a 23 cm flan tin with a removable base.
Ingredients for the pastry:
6 oz/175g plain (all purpose) flour
Pinch of salt
1.5 oz/42g butter
1.5 oz/42 g white cooking fat
2 tbsp cold water
For the filling:
4 oz/113g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
2 eggs, well beaten
8 oz/225g pumpkin puree
For the topping:
About 110g of pecan halves
1 tbsp honey, to glaze
If you’re making your own puree, heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.
The number of pumpkins you’ll need depends on their size – one medium butternut squash or 2-3 small pumpkins should be enough. I used five but three were tiddlers with very little flesh. Even then, they produced twice as much puree as I needed for this recipe.
Stab the pumpkins with a knife to let the steam out.
Put them in a baking dish and bake them for 45-60 minutes, depending on size, until they’re soft enough to pierce with a fork.
Cut them in half, allow to cool enough to handle, then scoop out the seeds and discard (or save them for another recipe).
Scoop out the flesh with a spoon and set aside to cool. Some of mine were a bit fibrous so I put them through a mouli.
Turn the oven up to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.
Make the pastry: either put the flour, salt and fats into a food processor and whizz until the mix resembles breadcrumbs or rub the fat into the flour with your fingertips until you reach the same point. Add the water and cut it through until the pastry forms a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
Use the pastry to line your flan tin. Chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Line the tart with foil, overlapping the edges of the pastry, and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes then remove the foil and beans and bake for another five minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Turn the oven down to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5.
Make the filling: mix together the sugar, honey and fruit juices. Add the beaten eggs and lemon and orange rind, mix thoroughly, then stir in the pumpkin. Pour into the tart base.
Bake for around 25 minutes or until the filling is partly set. Remove from the oven and arrange the pecans in concentric circles on the top.
Put the tart back in the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the filling comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin. To glaze, warm a tablespoon of honey in a pan and brush it gently over the pecans.
Good served with a dollop of creme fraiche to cut the sweetness.