Friday, 21 October 2016

Halloween 2016: American Pumpkin Pie (Wheat Free with Dairy Free Option)

And for another American treat, here's a classic: pumpkin pie! I've never actually eaten one before, let alone made one, so this was a genuine adventure!


This for me was quite a stretch. Not because it was in any way a stretch of my ability, because this was actually incredibly simple, but it was a test of what my palate can tolerate when it comes to weird and wonderful foods. Maybe it's because I wasn't brought up by Americans who eat this treat every year, but the idea of making a custard pie out of a vegetable is a bit out there as a concept to me. Nevertheless, I gave it a try!

To my understanding, dessert pies are enjoyed prolifically across the Southern United States: pecan pie, chess pie, Mississippi mud pie, buttermilk pie, key lime pie, and pumpkin pie are all slight variations on the idea of a custard pie. All of these are baked in the oven using egg as a thickener, and rely heavily on dairy, whether whole milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, buttermilk, or cream; butter, also.

I always think of pumpkin being fairly bland in flavour, but definitely savoury. So the idea of mixing it with evaporated milk, brown sugar and spices didn't make much sense to me. That didn't stop me, though.

The pie cooked well, and the surface was pristine, until I accidentally knocked it with the top knuckle of my pinky finger! Marred!


Another mistake I made, and this was a biggy, was I forgot to chill the dough. This meant it shrank when I blind baked it. As such, I had a few spoonfuls of filling left in the bowl that didn't fit into the case. If it had not shrunk, the filling would have been the perfect amount. The recipe is written with this in mind.

I wasn't brave enough to eat the final pie myself, to my shame. I did however try some of the uncooked filling: it was definitely sweet, with a nice spicy warmth, and a slight nutty flavour from the pumpkin. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't to my taste. However, I fed it to my friend Josie and she enjoyed it, so that's good enough for me!

FREE FROM
☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Wheat
☑ Nuts

CONTAINS
☒ Eggs
☒ Dairy (dairy substitutes can be found in italics)
☒ Gluten
☒ Refined sugar products


INGREDIMENTS
For one 9 inch (23 centimetre) pie

For the pastry
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) white spelt flour
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) butter, at room temperature, or margarine
  • 1½ ounces (40 grammes) icing sugar
  • Cold water, to bind
For the filling
  • 8 ounces (225 grammes) pumpkin purée (buy it, or see below for how to make it)
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) caster sugar
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) light brown sugar
  • 4 fluid ounces (120 millilitres) evaporated milk, or coconut milk
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) ground mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence
  • Pinch of salt

METHOD
  • Make the dough according to the instructions found here. Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film, and chill for an hour.
  • When chilled, preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mk. 4)
  • Roll out the dough to a quarter of an inch (5 millilitres) thick, keeping it as circular as possible. Lie over the rolling pin and lay into a 9 inch (23 centimetre) pie tin or dish. Press into the tin.
  • Cut a piece of baking paper to fit over the pastry case, then scrunch it up. This helps it fit into the case better. Un-scrunch it and lay it in the case, fill with coins or dry rice, and bake for 20 minutes.
  • While the case is cooking, prepare the filling. Mix all the ingredients together at the same time in a mixing bowl (preferably with a pouring spout) with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Don't be tempted to use a whisk: this will make it catch air, which will crack it during baking. See below for how to make pumpkin purée.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC (325ºF, Gas Mk. 2), and gently slide out the shelf with the case on it just enough that you can pour in the mixture. Pour the filling into the case slowly but surely, then push it back in gently.
  • Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until dry on the surface, set about an inch (2 centimetres) all away around the edge, but still jiggly in the centre.
  • Gently remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.

I have it on good authority (that is, the woman who ate this pie) that it was delicious. I wasn't brave enough to try it myself though, so if you want to try this recipe and take that leap of faith, be my guest!


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