Sunday, 19 July 2015

Pumpkin Pie

A recipe inspired by Bree McCready and the Realm of the Lost
 "Chills in the night air are tingling skin
The veil between worlds is now growing thin
Bright spirits gather, the dead return
Drawn to the flickers where candles burn"

Louise Heyden

The Bree McCready novels are all set during different seasons. The third book in the trilogy, Bree McCready and the Realm of the Lost,  is set during Autumn - Halloween to be more exact. This is reflected in the colours of the logo for this book (by Lawrence Mann).

It's fancy dress at the Ramthorpe Halloween Funfair. Bree is dressed as a pirate, Sandy as a vampire and Honey as a cat. You can see them on the cover, carrying their juicy giant pumpkins as they make their way to Castle Zarcalat. This is not somewhere I would recommend going Trick or Treating!

But it's only July and my pumpkin plants looks like this...

No sign of any juicy giant pumpkins quite yet but if I can keep the hungry slugs and snails at bay and if the weather stays nice then I can live in hope that come October I'll be making pumpkin pie again using my own homegrown crop.

Until then this will have to suffice...

I've never used tinned pumpkin before and I might have turned my nose up at it. I picked this tin up in Real Foods and it's kind of my find of the year. 100% pure pureed pumpkin (tonguetwister alert!) with a lovely silky smooth consistency. I have been googling recipes that use tinned pumpkin and I promise there'll be more coming your way. I have learned never to make a swift judgement until I have actually tried something for myself.

I've never made Pumpkin Pie before. It's a dish halfway between savoury and sweet so I wasn't sure it would be up Junior's street. I couldn't have been more wrong! He loved it! And I suppose it's kind of healthy - if you forget about the pastry and the sugar. It's associated with the American Thanksgiving celebration and I will most definitely be making it again nearer that time.

Here are the ingredients for one 9" pie. 

You can make your own shortcrust pastry if you prefer but I honestly think it's just as nice with the shop bought stuff. I mean, why go to all that extra bother when someone else can do it for you? Equally you can buy a ready made flan case to avoid the process of blind baking.


375g pack of shortcrust pastry
425g can of Solid Pack Pumpkin. 
170g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Half a teaspoon of ground ginger
Quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves 
280ml of evaporated milk
2 eggs
Pecan nuts and whipped cream for decorating

Preheat the oven to 220C

Grease a 9" circular baking tin with butter.

Unroll the pastry and place it over the top of the tin, carefully pushing it down so it sits inside the tin. Gently press the pastry down and into the sides of the tin, cutting away any excess.

I found the shortcrust pastry a joy to work with, almost the consistency of wet clay! That meant that any wee holes or rips could easily be mended.

Cut some parchment paper so it is slightly larger than the diameter of the tin. Lay it over the pastry and press it down gently.

Baking Beans

Fill the entire area with the ceramic baking beans. The weight of the beans stops the pastry from rising during the baking process. This is called 'Blind Baking'.

Blind bake for about 15mins - the pastry should just be turning golden brown.

Carefully lift the beads out with the parchment paper and set the part-cooked flan case aside while you prepare the filling.

First, reduce the oven to 170C

Into a large mixing bowl add the tinned pumpkin.

Add the sugar and salt

Add the spices

Add the beaten eggs

Lastly, add the evaporated milk

Whisk everything together until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the case and bake for an hour. 
The way I did this was to bake the pie for 30 minutes, turn it 180 degrees, bake for a further 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave it in there for the final 5 minutes. I felt this gave it a nice, even finish.

During the baking process you will notice the filling 'puffs up'. When the oven is turned off the filling will drop again and will be left with a flat surface.

Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool before decorating.

I decided I would decorate the pie with whipped cream and pecans. Pecans and pumpkin go well in my opinion. I left the pie to thoroughly cool and the cream came out the piping bag in pretty, professional swirls... but then quickly melted into lifeless blobs! I think it's because I made this pie in July and the kitchen was very warm. Melted cream probably isn't something that happens when you make Pumpkin Pie at the end of October!

Anyway, you live and learn. It still tasted AMAZING!


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