Pumpkin pie that’s perfect for holiday season


IF you have ever celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas at a friend’s home in the United States, most likely you would have enjoyed a hearty turkey dinner that ended with a dessert of either pecan pie or pumpkin pie.

While it is common for pumpkin pie to be prepared with canned pumpkin puree in the US, it is not a very popular ingredient in Malaysia, and you would be hard pressed to find it in any grocery store or supermarket here.

Although it is not unheard of for Americans to use fresh pumpkin to make this dessert, many prefer the convenience of the canned version.

It is not really difficult to make your own pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin pie is a festive dessert that is usually served with whipped cream. — Photos: RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The StarPumpkin pie is a festive dessert that is usually served with whipped cream. — Photos: RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

The most important step is to press the pumpkin pulp through a wire sieve so that you get a smooth puree for the pie filling. You may also use an electric blender, but I find that some of the fibre may be too tough to be properly blended.

One medium-size pumpkin will yield more than two cups of puree, and you can use the remainder for making kaya or bread filling.

This recipe makes two 24cm pumpkin pies. Depending on the depth of your pie pan, you may end up with enough filling for one more pie.

The main seasoning for this dessert is pumpkin pie spice, which you may be able to get from the supermarket or baking supply store.

It is essentially a powdered blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice, and every manufacturer will have its own specific ratio of each spice.

If you are unable to get this spice, or if you don’t wish to be left with a whole jar of unused spice in your pantry, then you can create your own mix of pumpkin pie spice using these four common spices.

When the flour and butter resemble a coarse meal, stir in water and vinegar. Lightly knead into a ball of dough.When the flour and butter resemble a coarse meal, stir in water and vinegar. Lightly knead into a ball of dough.

The surprising twist is the addition of apple cider vinegar in the pie dough, which is said to create a more tender crust because the acid is supposed to inhibit the gluten formation in the wheat flour.

Although the science of it doesn’t hold up, I found that my crust to be fluffier but with a slight vinegary note.

You may substitute lemon juice for the vinegar if you prefer a more citrusy aftertaste.

Since the filling is basically a custard, blind baking the crust is recommended to avoid a soggy bottom.

Be sure to cool the crust completely before filling, or the hot crust will absorb any liquid that you introduce to it.

Split the pumpkin down the middle and scoop out all the seeds.Split the pumpkin down the middle and scoop out all the seeds.

Americans usually serve pumpkin pie with a big dollop of whipped cream to help cut the sweetness of this dessert.

However, because making it in a tart pan gives me a shallower pie with a higher ratio of crust to filling, I can omit the whipped cream. But it tastes amazing when served with whipped cream or ice cream.

This recipe makes two 24cm pumpkin pies.

Pumpkin pie

Filling

1 medium pumpkin, about 1kg

1 tbsp cooking oil

2 large eggs

170g light brown sugar

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice)

320g evaporated milk

Pie dough

315g all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

2 tsp castor sugar

225g cold unsalted butter

¼ cup ice water

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Optional garnish

25g pumpkin seeds

Method

Sift together flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut cold butter into 1cm cubes and stir into the flour mixture. Crumble the butter into the flour and blend until the mix resembles coarse meal.

Sprinkle water and vinegar and gather the dough until it comes together into a ball.

Divide the ball of dough into two equal portions, then lightly knead together and press into a round disc. Wrap each disc of dough in baking paper and leave to chill for about one hour until firm but not hard.

Meanwhile, cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Brush the cut surface with cooking oil. Place a sheet of baking paper on a tray and brush with oil.

When the roasted pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape the pulp out, then press it through a wire mesh to get a smooth puree.When the roasted pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape the pulp out, then press it through a wire mesh to get a smooth puree.

Then place pumpkin cut-side down on the paper and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 30 to 40 minutes until tender. Allow to cool until warm to the touch, for about 20 minutes.

Roll out pie dough between two sheets of baking paper into a circle 2cm larger all around than the tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and fold in any overhanging pieces into the side crust.

Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Allow the pie crust to cool completely before adding the pumpkin filling.

Fill up to the rim of pie crust with the pumpkin custard, without it spilling over.Fill up to the rim of pie crust with the pumpkin custard, without it spilling over.

Meanwhile, scrape the pumpkin pulp out from the skin, then push through a wire sieve to get about two cups of pumpkin puree. Discard fibres left in the sieve.

Whisk eggs with sugar and salt until dissolved, then stir in the pumpkin puree, flour, spices and evaporated milk until well combined.

Ladle the pumpkin filling into the cooled pie crust until level with the rim of the crust. Garnish with pumpkin seeds, if desired, in a ring around the edge of the rim, then bake at 180°C for 40 minutes until set.

Cool completely before serving, either on its own or with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

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