Wednesday, 31 October 2012

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Pumpkin pie is a bit of a mystery to us Brits - is it savoury? Is it sweet? But it contains a vegetable, how can it be a pudding? So I thought I'd have a stab at it this Halloween (see what I did there?!), after all pumpkin does seem to be gaining in popularity on this side of the Atlantic. Starbucks are even doing pumpkin spice lattes over here this year!

A bit of research indicated that the best pie is made with the cans of processed pumpkin puree, which seemed very strange as you'd think that a fresh pumpkin would be the ultimate, but not wanting to stray from tradition I set out on a mission to find some. None of my usual supermarkets had any, but thanks to a tip from my good friend Rachel at Make A Long Story Short I found a couple of tins at a branch of Waitrose I never knew existed!

On to the recipe - again wanting to stick to US tradition I used the method detailed on the back of the tin of pumpkin which called for a pastry case, pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar and some spices. I made a standard shortcrust pastry using just butter and plain flour, used it to line my gorgeous Le Creuset pie dish, and baked the empty case for 20 minutes. I really should have blind baked it properly using baking beans because my case ended up a bit puffy and uneven, but I persevered. The filling is made simply by combining all the ingredients and pouring them into the prepared pastry case, but I was slightly alarmed at how runny it was! Crossing fingers that my pastry didn't have any holes or cracks in it, the pie then went into the oven to bake until the filling had set.

So far so good... it looked ok after baking, if a little rustic (the edges caramelised where I wobbled pouring the filling into the case), but the real test would be how it tasted. Hmm. I wasn't sure. The pastry was a bit of an epic fail which was disappointing after the recent success of my treacle tart, far too tough and not flaky enough. I found the pie filling a bit... strange. It was a nice smooth texture (especially if you eat it at room temperature) and the spices came through nicely, but I couldn't quite get on with the pumpkin flavour. It reminded me of butternut squash and therefore of soup and roasted vegetables, definitely an acquired taste in a sweet dessert. My other taste tester liked it a lot more than me though so it wasn't a completely wasted effort, and I've got another tin of pumpkin puree in the cupboard so I'm going to try that in a different recipe, here's hoping I get on a bit better with it!

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