If you’ve ever been invited to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas at a friend’s home in the US, you’d be treated with a huge turkey dinner that usually 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 here and you would be hard-pressed to find it in any grocery store or supermarket in Malaysia.
Although it is not unheard of for Americans to use fresh pumpkin for this dessert, many prefer the convenience of the canned stuff. It’s not really difficult to make your own pumpkin puree. The most important step is to press the pumpkin pulp through a wire sieve to get rid of the fibres so that you get a smooth puree for the pie filling. You may also use an electric blender, but I find that some fibres 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 24-centimetre pumpkin pies, and 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 their 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.
The surprising twist for me is the addition of apple cider vinegar in the pie dough, which is said to create a more tender crust because acid is supposed to inhibit the formation of gluten in the wheat flour. Although the science of it doesn’t hold up, I found that my crust is fluffier but carries a slight vinegary note. You may substitute lemon juice for the vinegar if you prefer a more citrusy aftertaste.
Because the filling is basically a custard, I recommend blind-baking the crust to avoid a soggy bottom. However, be sure to cool the crust completely before filling, or the hot crust will absorb any liquid that you introduce to it.
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.
- 1 medium pumpkin, about 1kg
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 large eggs
- 170g light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 320g evaporated milk
- Pie Dough:
- 315g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp castor sugar
- 225g cold unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Garnish (optional):
- 25g pumpkin seed
- Sift together flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut up cold butter into 1-centimetre cubes and stir into the flour mixture. Crumble the butter into the flour until they resemble a fine meal. Sprinkle in 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 allow to rest in a chiller for about 1 hour until firm but not hard.
- Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Brush the cut surface with cooking oil. Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and brush with cooking oil. Then place pumpkin cut-side down on the paper and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 30-40 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 two centimetres 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 filling with the pumpkin filling.
- Scrape the pumpkin pulp out from the skin, then push through a wire sieve to get about two cups of pumpkin puree, discarding the fibres that are left in the sieve.
- Whisk eggs with sugar and salt until dissolved, then stir in two cups of pumpkin puree, flour, spices and evaporated milk until well combined.
- Carefully ladle 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.