CAT DEMPSEY plumps for pumpkin pie as her hearty Halloween treat
The first time I tried pumpkin pie was only a year ago, after a night out with my roommates. I was hungover and had spent a large portion of that day searching high and low for a tin of pumpkin purée to make the desert for a thanksgiving dinner we were throwing for our American friend. What would have saved me a lot of time on this headache of a day was knowing that in pumpkin pies, the main ingredient does not actually have to be pumpkin! You can make a perfectly good ‘pumpkin’ puree using butternut squash, or even sweet potatoes.
This recipe involves blind baking, where you partially cook the pastry cases first before adding the filling, to stop the bases going soggy.
· One small, sweet pumpkin (or a butternut squash)
· 2 eggs
· 1 egg yolk
· 140g soft brown sugar
· 3 tsp of cinnamon (or to taste)
· 25g melted butter
· 10ml whole milk
· 2 rolls of short crust pastry
· Rice for blind baking
· Sharp knife
· Baking Tray
· Cupcake tray
· Baking paper
· Mixing bowl
Start by making your puree base:
· Peel your pumpkin or squash and roughly chop
· Drizzle with a very small amount of neutral oil on a baking tray and roast in an oven at 180C (fan) until the vegetable is soft. You can test this by seeing if you can stab a few of the chopped pieces with a butterknife.
· Allow the pumpkin to fully cool out of the oven.
· Blend slowly with a very small amount of water; just enough water to allow the blades of the blender to blend the pumpkin chunks properly. You can do this in steps if you have a smaller blender or one that is not very high powered.
1. Set the oven at 180oC fan
2. Using a small amount of butter, grease the cupcake tray to prevent the pastry from sticking to the tray.
3. Cut out large rounds of the pastry and carefully create the pastry cases in the cupcake tray. An important tip for this step is to ‘lift and drop’ the pastry into the corners of the tray instead of pressing the pastry in. This will prevent the pastry from shrinking too much during the blind baking process. If you want a decorative crust, you could use a fork to add the small indents that you see on the crust of a full-sized pie!
4. Use baking paper to line the inside of the pastry cases. Then fill the baking paper ‘baskets’ with rice. This will also prevent the cases from shrinking and from losing their shape.
5. Bake the cases for roughly 5-10 minutes, until you can see that the edges are no longer raw, but neither are they starting to get too brown.
6. Once this happens, take the tray out and remove the baking paper and rice, and then continue to bake for a further 5-10 minutes, until the edges of the cases are starting to brown.
7. While the pastry cases are baking, combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk thoroughly, making sure there are no streaks of pumpkin, egg or sugar left.
8. Make sure the cinnamon is enough; perhaps add it in increments to make sure it is to your liking. Some other spices you could add for a deeper flavour profile are nutmeg, ginger and cloves. As a broke student, I prefer to just use cinnamon since it is an ingredient I use more frequently than I would the others.
9. Once the pastry cases are full, fill the mini pies with the liquid filling. The mixture will seem surprisingly thin, but I promise it’s correct! You’re essentially making a custard pie, so the eggs will set the pumpkin custard as it bakes.
10. Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is fully cooked. If you shake the case the filling shouldn’t wobble, and that is a good way to check if it is done cooking. You don’t want a sloppy pie!
11. Once the mini pumpkin pies have cooled out of the oven, you can serve these adorable tiny pies with whipped cream or just on their own!
A few notes:
o I like to slightly roll out the pastry, so it is a little bit thinner than the pre-rolled thickness.
o Tinned pumpkin works just as well as homemade pumpkin puree. Use about 500g if you use the tinned stuff!
o Once you have used the rice for blind baking, you cannot use it to cook as normal anymore. I keep this rice in a clearly labeled separate jar so I can use it over and over again, but I don’t accidentally cook and eat it.
Written by Cat Dempsey