My Scottish-Canadian cousin, Deirdre, introduced us to this when living with us in Scotland in the 1960s. Unimaginable now, but it was so exotic to us, having never even seen an American pumpkin (the Scots made turnip or swede lanterns at Hallowe'en). We had a wonderful shop nearby, known as an Italian Warehouseman, and there we found imported cans of pumpkin purée. It has remained a family favourite ever since. Butternut squash purée makes an ideal substitute and gives a brighter colour to the filling.
Use my quick shortcrust pastry recipe for the base.
1 quantity basic shortcrust pastry
475g can pumpkin purée or 500 ml of homemade puree
100g packed soft light brown sugar
200ml evaporated milk or double cream
120ml golden syrup syrup or light molasses
A good pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons golden or spiced rum (optional)
A 20.5-cm metal or enamel pie plate
A maple leaf pastry cutter (optional)
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.
To make your own puree, cut 750 g of unpeeled pumpkin or squash into large chunks and bake in an oven preheated to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3 for about 1 hour. Alternatively, cook the chunks of pumpkin in the microwave in a covered heatproof bowl. (Boiling it won’t work as it will make the pumpkin too wet.) When cooled, scrape the flesh from the skin and purée in a food processor. Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and use it to line the pie plate, trimming off the excess pastry. Either crimp the edge of the pastry or use the pastry trimmings to cut leaves to decorate the edge. Prick the base all over with a fork, then line with baking parchment or kitchen foil and baking beans and bake blind for 12–15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry out the pastry. Leave to cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3.
Place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Set the cooled pie crust on a baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until just set. If the pastry edges are beginning to brown too much before the filling is set, cover the edges with kitchen foil before returning to the oven. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and leave to cool in the pie plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, not chilled.
Recipe taken from Pies Glorious Pies by Maxine Clarke (Ryland Peters & Small.
Photography: Copyright of Ryland Peters & Small.