The most beautiful pumpkin turned up in our veg box this week, which made my morning when I saw it – I’d been hoping for days that we’d get one, as I’d got it in my head that I wanted to try my hand at a sweet pumpkin pie. I didn’t fancy anything too rich, and my mind kept wandering back to the delicious custard tarts we ate in Lisbon last month. Suddenly, inspiration hit: why not try and fuse one of my favourite desserts, carrot kheer, with pumpkin pie? B made a crisp, buttery shortcrust pastry (thanks, Delia) and I made a creamy custard, flavoured with orange zest, a hint of rose, and spices. The carrot and sultanas gave just enough sweetness for us (although you may well like to add some sugar.) I wish I’d had saffron in stock, as that would have taken the whole thing to the next level, but never mind – any excuse to make it again!
For the pastry:
110g plain flour
A pinch of salt
For the pie filling:
1 small pumpkin or squash (mine weighed 750g whole)
2 cinnamon sticks
50g Demerara sugar
200ml double cream
100ml condensed milk
2 eggs, plus one egg yolk
100g (about one medium) grated carrot
2 tbsp. rosewater
Zest of one orange
Crushed seeds from 6 cardamom pods
A few gratings nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. mixed spice
Ground cinnamon, to serve
Remove the butter from the fridge twenty minutes before you are ready to start the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, then divide the butter, sugar, and cinnamon sticks between each piece. Place in an oven dish, cover with foil, and bake until soft – about 40 minutes.
Put the sultanas in a small bowl, pour over the rosewater, and set aside to soak.
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Chop the butter into chunks and add to the flour, then use a knife to cut into tiny pieces, covering with flour as you go. Stir with the knife to combine, then sprinkle over one tablespoon of cold water. Use your fingertips to gently rub in the butter, lifting the mix and dropping it back into the bowl. You’re aiming to work the pastry just enough to bring it together into a ball of dough – if necessary, wet your fingers with more cold water to help. Once done, put the pastry into a sandwich bag and refrigerate for thirty minutes.
When the pumpkin is cooked, scoop out the flesh (along with the butter, sugary juices) and pulse in a blender until smooth. Tip into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
Butter your pie dish, then roll out the pastry to fit. Gently transfer to the dish, poke the base all over with a fork, and bake blind for 15-20 minutes, until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven, and if necessary, trim the edges.
Next,make the pie filling: in a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add to the pumpkin, along with the cream, condensed milk, orange zest, and spices. Mix until combined. Squeeze as much moisture out of the grated carrot as possible, using kitchen paper, then add to the custard mixture along with the sultanas. Mix well, then pour into the pie dish, and bake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, until set. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon before serving.