Spiced Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Friday, January 02, 2015

We don't tend to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia as much as it's celebrated in America. Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated widely in the United States, on which thanks is given for the harvest season or simply to celebrate and be thankful for the preceding year. Traditionally held on the fourth Thursday of November, it is a family affair that evokes the aromas of roast turkey, cranberries, cornbread, baked root vegetables and good ol' pecan pie. 
Our family friends, who spent a long time in America, held a Thanksgiving dinner this year to gather old friends together for a nice home-cooked meal. On the menu was roast turkey with stuffing, biscuits and gravy, pulled pork sliders, cornbread, peach cobbler, and pecan and pumpkin pies. It being known that I love to bake, we were given the task of making Pumpkin Pie.

The culmination of savoury and sweet in this popular all-American dessert is the perfect flourish to the end of many a Thanksgiving meal. Other than being hailed as the stalwart of Halloween, pumpkin is also traditionally seen as a symbol of the harvest, and in this dessert is cooked into a custard laced with cinnamon and ginger and baked in an open pie shell.

In America today it is common to find canned pie pumpkin on supermarket shelves, but this recipe takes the more traditional (and perhaps better for you) method of steaming or boiling the pumpkin before mashing and folding into a mixture of evaporated milk or cream, brown sugar, spices and eggs. 

 Cooked pumpkin

The pie crust is made from sweet shortcrust pastry, which is blind baked before filling to ensure a crispy, golden base for the velvety pumpkin filling to be poured into. When making pastry, I always used chilled, cubed butter straight from the fridge and find it most successful to only handle the dough a much as it needs to be handled. This is essential for a lovely short, crumbly crust. 

Shortcrust pastry

I've made quite a few shortcrust pastries before and always seem to stumble when it comes to rolling out and lining the tin with pastry. The best technique I've learnt to transfer the pastry successfully (thank you, Lifestyle Food) is to roll out the disc using the rolling pin in a rotating motion, so that you aren't rolling the dough in just two directions (most of that time, that is up and down). Rotate either the dough or the rolling pin every couple of rolls to achieve a near-perfect circular sheet of pastry. Then, provided that the surface you're rolling out on is floured enough, you should be able to loosely wrap the disc around your rolling pin, lift it up and unroll over the prepared tin. It may take a few attempts to master. If all else fails, patch up any holes with any pastry scraps you have. 

Pre-blind baking

Post-blind baking

There are other versions of Pumpkin Pie that have a silky smooth pumpkin centre, but this recipe gives a surprisingly light, almost sponge-like texture to the filling that borders the line between eggy custard and cake. This texture comes from whipping the evaporated milk before adding the filling ingredients, to achieve a lighter, airier finish that is not unlike a sponge cake. 

Whipped evaporated milk

Combined filling ingredients

This recipe makes a very large, deep Pumpkin Pie; we used a 23cm tart tin and had pastry left to make two mini tarts, as well as filling to make a whole extra shallow pie (sans pastry). A deep pie dish would be perfect for the quantity of this recipe. We also used butternut pumpkin, but any type of pumpkin will do. Just be sure to drain off any excess water before mixing into the filling.

Ready for baking

Thanksgiving or not, there's never a reason you shouldn't make pumpkin pie, even if it's just for the sake of being able to boast that you've made a pie containing pumpkin. I love the myriad of warming spices that add depth to the sweet pumpkin: ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Oh, and it's absolutely heavenly with a dollop of thick double cream.

Spiced Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Adapted from this recipe

Makes one large pie or one 23cm tart and two mini tarts

  • 625g OR one medium sized pumpkin (I used butternut), peeled, seeds scooped and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 can (400mL) evaporated milk, chilled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (185g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Baking beads/rice for blind baking
For the sweet shortcrust pastry:
  • 3 cups (375g) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 220g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup (125mL) cold water
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius fan forced. Grease pie dish or tart tin. 
  2. Place pumpkin chunks in a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool, then mash to a puree. 
  3. For pastry, in a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Rub chilled butter into flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add water 1 tablespoon at a time while kneading using hands. Only add enough water so that pastry is moist enough to hold together. 
  4. Lightly flour hands and shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in cling wrap and let rest in fridge for 30 minutes or overnight. 
  5. Once pastry has rested, roll out on a floured surface or between sheets of baking paper using a rolling pin to 5mm thickness. Transfer to prepared baking tin/dish, pressing gently into sides and edges. Leave a little excess around the edge, as the pastry will shrink in the oven. 
  6. Chill lined tin in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Once chilled, line tin with baking paper and fill with baking beads or rice. Blind bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove baking beads and return to the oven for a further 5-8 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Trim excess off edges and cool slightly. 
  8. For filling, using electric hand beaters whip evaporated milk in a large mixing bowl until frothy and increased in volume. In a separate bowl mix together beaten eggs, sugar, spices, salt and pumpkin until combined, then gently fold into the whipped evaporated milk. The mixture will look frothy and light in colour. 
  9. Pour filling into prepared tin. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. 

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  1. Your pumpkin pie likes awesome. And lol my pastry always turns out wonky - will have to remember your Lifestyle Food tip!