Pumpkin Pie – turning spooky into sweet

Halloween is over, and the Jack O’Lanterns are still sitting in windows and on shelves. So what can you do with these carefully carved pumpkins before they start to rot? One of my personal favourite ideas is to make pumpkin pie. This recipe is fairly simple, and can be adjusted for taste throughout. All you need is a Jack O’Lantern, some pastry, cream, water, sugar, and a few sweet spices like nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. I tend to add a small amount of powdered ginger for a slight kick, but it’s not necessary. And if you don’t have a pumpkin, a tin of pumpkin puree can be substituted into this wintry dessert instead.

  • Jack O’Lantern or tinned pumpkin (300 grams)
  • Nutmeg (1/2 Tablespoon)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 Tablespoon)
  • Sugar (30 grams)
  • Pastry – shortcrust or puff (250 grams)
  • Ground cloves (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • Ginger (1 teaspoon)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Double cream (270 millilitres)
  • Icing sugar (1/2 Tablespoon)
  • Orange zest (optional)

First, break up the pumpkin. Remove the outer shell, and break the remaining flesh into manageable chunks. Place the pumpkin into a saucepan and add enough water to half-cover the pumpkin. Allow to simmer until the pumpkin is soft enough that it’s falling apart, and a significant portion of the water has evaporated, then drain away the remaining water. If you’re using tinned pumpkin, skip all of that and just open the tin into a saucepan and heat it up with two tablespoons of water.

Add the sugar and salt, and stir gently. Add in the spices and stir to distribute. Add about 100 mL of cream, stirring off the heat to prevent any curdling. Blend and mash the mixture until smooth (if you have a food processor it’s a bonus, but as long as you don’t use whole cloves you can do it without). If you want, you can add orange zest for a slightly more Christmassy taste.

Lightly grease a pie tin, before lining it with the pastry. Shortcrust pastry works better for this recipe, but puff pastry can be used as a substitute. Roll the pastry to about four millimetres thick, before carefully placing it in the tin. If it overlaps the edges that’s fine, but make sure the entire dish is lined, and that the pastry is flat against all of the sides.
Pour the pumpkin mix into the pastry, and sprinkle a little nutmeg or cinnamon on top, before placing into a 190 °C oven for 30 minutes. The edges of the pastry will have started to darken, so pull it out and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.

Whip the remaining cream with the icing sugar until thick and stiff, and serve on the side. Scrummy.