Sunday, 18 October 2009

Pumpkin Pie Memories

Last weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, in the (almost) 11 years since I left home for London, the day has passed me by without any thought of it. This year however I was feeling a bit nostalgic, maybe its because I was just home to Canada a few months ago and memories seem fresher or maybe I was just craving some pumpkin pie. Either way it seemed like the right time to have a proper Thanksgiving Dinner.

Pumpkin pie is the perfect nostalgic comfort food as it always strikes me as a bit retro. I know it's a classic but somehow I can't help but to imagine it being taken out of an avocado coloured oven and left to cool on a glittered formica table top. It reminds me of autumn afternoons in eastern Canada; the smell of wood stoves in the cool air and burnished leaves rustling underfoot. It reminds me of home.

I searched for quite a while for the right recipe, specifically looking for recipes that did not need evaporated milk (I am sure they sell it in the UK but I have never actually seen it), in the end I adapted a recipe from the for the filling and used my own recipe for the shortcrust pastry. My mother always used to say that squash makes better pie than pumpkin but I decided to stick with pumpkin, a beauty from Borough Market!

 Shortcrust Pastry
00 grams of plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
90 grams of cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
60 grams of vegetable shortening (I use Trex but Crisco is fine)
3 or 4 tsp ice water

In a food processor blend the flour and with the butter and shortening until its combined to a sandy crumbly texture with no large pieces of butter. Add water one spoon at a time until it is just starting to come together. Place mixture in a bowl and form into a flattened ball, divide in two wrap it in pastry and put in the fridge to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, transfer to a floured work surface and roll out until about 1/8 of and inch thick. I have recently discovered that if you place a sheet of clingfilm over the dough as you roll it it resists breakage and sticking. Transfer into a 9 inch pie dish and trim excess dough leaving about 1.5 inches. Pinch the edges of the dough to form the crust edge.

Pumpkin Filling
Adapted from
6 Large eggs
1 kilogram cooked pumpkin
250 ml whipping cream
225 grams of brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Whisk eggs with with brown sugar and spices and the add whipping cream and mashed pumpkin. Stir until smooth but being careful not over mix or the pie may crack. Fill the unbaked crust with the prepared filling and bake at 190 degrees C for 45-50 minutes.

Make 2x 9 inch pies or many little pies

Note: I was excited to try the tip of sprinkling the uncooked pastry with toasted pecans and gingersnaps (gingernuts here in England) to keep the crust from going soggy. So I toasted the pecans and ground them with gingersnaps... and then found them on the counter once the pie was already in the oven- oops!

My guests, of both English and Spanish origin, seemed entertained by the whole experience having only experienced Thanksgiving via television. I was uncertain if Pumpkin Pie would be a success on this side of the pond but I am pleased to report that it was finished nicely off with several mini pies wrapped up and taken home.


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