There are so many traditions around the world involving food that it is impossible to know them all. But of all the feasts we don’t celebrate the one we hear most about is Thanksgiving. This is possibly because I made friends with plenty of Americans at university, or possibly because I spend too much time on Buzzfeed. Either way, it seemed high time I updated my Pumpkin Pie recipe.
In essence, pumpkin pie is a set custard in a pastry casing, but what makes in unusual – and let’s be honest, for those of us not brought up with it, a bit strange – is that there is a vegetable mashed through it. No, I have no idea how someone came up with it either, but somehow I think it works.
If I’m honest though, I think the pumpkin is there mainly as a vehicle for the spices, chief amongst which is my good friend, cinnamon.
My pumpkin pie recipe is possibly even odder, mostly for the fact that there is absolutely no pumpkin involved. There’s not slicing and cooking pumpkins and definitely no tins with goodness-knows-what in them. I use sweet potato. When cooked and mashed its texture is surprisingly similar, and so I’ve learnt that it makes the whole process a lot easier. Big thanks goes to my friend Kat for that worldly advice.
There will be no enormous turkey dinner laden with cranberries and half a million sides for me this week (and no resulting two-day food coma; been there, done that); but I made a pumpkin pie big enough to share, and that to me really seems like it is very much the point.
If you celebrate Thanksgiving, then I hope you have a good one.
This recipe comes courtesy of my friend Kat; it makes enough for a 9 inch deep-filled pie, or a 30cm (12 inch) shallow filled one. I used Sweet Potato instead of pumpkin for this recipe, but if you prefer the more traditional option, feel free. You will need to make it a purée before starting this recipe. Serves 8.
for the pastry:
300g plain flour
3 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp salt
for the filling:
70g golden caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
450g sweet potato (/pumpkin)
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
Start by making the pastry. Sieve the flour into a large bowl and cube in your chilled butter. Add in the salt and then use a round-ended knife to break the butter up further whilst covering in the flour. Once the butter can’t really be cut any smaller get your hands in and mix until it has breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the water spoonful at a time and bring the pastry into a firm (and not soggy) ball. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Lightly flour the worktop and roll the pastry out so it is large enough to cover the base and sides of your tin, with a slight overlap around the edges. Lay the pastry out in your tin and trim the edges (if your tin is fluted just press down on the rim and it will naturally cut it perfectly without stretching.
If you have any gaps in the pastry use off cuts to plug them – it needs to be watertight, or you’re going to make a spectacular mess of your oven.
To make the filling, peel and chop you sweet potato (/pumpkin) into small chunks. Steam these so that they are cooked and very soft, then mash them using a fork, so there are not chunks. In a large bowl crack the eggs and beat lightly, then add in the sugar and beat it in so there are no lumps. To this add the ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt (beating them in as you go), then add in your pumpkin and evaporated milk. Beat this until is fully combined.
Preheat your oven to 200°C and put a roasting tray/grill pan in the bottom (in case there is any leakage – a tray is much easier to clean than an oven!)
Pour your mixture into the chilled case and then bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170°C and bake for another 20-35 mins (depending on pie depth). When it’s cooked it should be golden brown and a knife should come out cleanly.
Allow to cool completely before serving.