Thursday is Thanksgiving, the only holiday which seems to be celebrated by all Americans and which is truly and originally American. We will be in Philadelphia with friends and their wider families, and very excited about it we are too. As the autumnal decorations merged into Thanksgiving, I seem to have been surrounded by orange and pumpkins for a long time. Pumpkin foods abound, from the obvious – cakes, cookies and cheesecakes – to the less obvious (to me, at least), like beer. I have a lager-based pumpkin beer in the fridge, and Matt tried a pumpkin porter when we were in Amarillo. Both are very pleasant, but despite having lived in Belgium and having drunk their fruit beers, like Kriek and Lambic, I was still surprised to find pumpkin being an ingredient of beer.
I have never liked cooking pumpkins much from fresh. I find them very hard to cut, and on one occasion my very sharp Chinese chopper got stuck as I tried to halve one. I do like the taste though, and was thrilled when I did a baking course during the summer, and was told that no-one, not even the top chefs, make pumpkin puree from scratch. Everyone buys it ready made. Hurrah! Guilt gone out the window! But before I carry on, did you know that tinned pumpkin is in fact tinned squash? It seems even the manufacturers find squash easier to deal with than pumpkin, and the USDA is rather unclear with its description saying, “The canned product prepared from clean, sound, properly matured, golden fleshed, firm shelled, sweet varieties of either pumpkins and squashes by washing, stemming, cutting, steaming and reducing to a pulp.” Hah!
I had three pastry cases in the freezer and I knew they had to be used up soon, so I decided to try my hand at a US classic recipe, Pumpkin Pie. I searched the innerwebs but found that many of the recipes seemed to be too sweet. So, shock, horror, I made up my own using bits and bobs of several recipes that I read, and then incorporated a suggestion made by an American friend. I thought the result was great so here is Caroline’s Pumpkin Pie.
Caroline’s Pumpkin Pie
(Makes 2 x 9-inch pies)
- 2 whole eggs
- 65 g sugar – I used golden caster, but would like to try it with a darker sugar
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tin, 15 oz / 425 g pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper – my friend’s recommendation but can be omitted if Big Andrew is eating with you
- 80 ml half and half cream – this what I used here, I think single cream would be the best in the UK
Beat together all the ingredients until smooth. (I made double the recipe because I had three six-inch pie crusts, but I filled them all, and had some mixture left over. So I greased a glass pie dish with butter and put the balance in there as a pumpkin pudding.) Fill the pie crusts and put into an oven which has been pre-warmed to 190 C / 375 F. Cook for 45 mins and then check. You don’t want the filling to be too solid because it carries on cooking after removal from the oven. Mine took about 55 mins for the pies and 25 mins for the pudding. My pies were much deeper than your average pumpkin pie.
On reflection, I should have smoothed the tops, but they tasted really really good and I will make them again. The pudding was a particular success.