Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pumpkin Pie - Danish/Scottish/Australian Style!

Today's dish has had an interesting journey to get to you - from Denmark - via Scotland, via Australia. The original recipe was passed on to me from my sister, who lives in the Highlands of Scotland. Where she is in the Northern Hemisphere, they have recently celebrated the old festival of Samhain, a celebration marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter on October 31. This old Pagan festival has morphed into what is celebrated around the world in modern times as Halloween. Foods of the harvest are traditionally shared at this time of the year, with pumpkin being a very common ingredient to go into Samhain celebration dishes.

Andrew has been asking me to make a pumpkin pie for a while, and so when my sister sent me a Danish pumpkin pie recipe this week that she had made and recommended - and we had a glut of pumpkin at our house - I thought it was a great time to give it a try. I made a few changes to the original recipe, omitting the brandy (not being brandy drinkers, we didn't have any in the house so I just left it out), tweaking the dairy and spice component and adding vanilla, as well as a pecan/hazelnut pastry base.

You could easily use store bought plain shortcrust pastry for this recipe if you wanted to simplify the preparation, but if you have time, the nutty base is really delicious and adds another taste and texture element to the dish. I used a mixture of ground hazelnut and pecans - just because I had them in the pantry. I blitzed the nuts in the food processor until they were blended finely. You could use almond meal too if you liked.

Pumpkin Pie
with Hazelnut & Pecan Pastry

The pumpkin pie is rich, so I served it in quite small slices, dusted with a little icing sugar and eaten with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, a few walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup. It would also be great with some thick cream on the side, dusted with some praline.

The very warm, spicy aroma of this dish remind me very much of traditional Christmas flavours. The pumpkin pie would be a great addition to a Christmas dinner - or if you are in the States, Thanksgiving.  Although the flavours are rich, the texture is light, so it gives you lots of taste without heaviness. You could also do little individual tarts which would look fantastic.

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween or Samhain - or even if you are not - this is a delicious dish to serve and share.

Pumpkin Pie
served with walnuts & maple syrup

You will need:

For the pastry - 2 1/2 cups plain flour, 1/3 cup caster sugar, 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts, 1/2 cup ground pecans, 175g chilled butter, 2 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons iced water.

For the filling - 500g peeled pumpkin, 175g brown sugar, 4 eggs, 2 cups cream, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon salt.


Chop the pumpkin into cubes and steam until very soft (I do this by putting the cubes of pumpkin on a large flat plate, covering with plastic wrap and cooking on high in the microwave for about 6 minutes - you do not need to add any water at all) Place the cooked pumpkin in a strainer for at least 30 minutes and allow the excess moisture to drain away.

In the meantime, make the pastry. Place the flour, sugar, nuts and butter in a food processor and blend until just combined.

Whisk together the egg yolks and cold water. Add to the flour mixture and process until it mixes and then forms a large ball of dough. Do not over process your mixture.

Turn the ball of dough onto a floured board and knead gently until the dough holds together well. Shape into a rough disc shape, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Once the pastry has rested, roll the pastry flat and line a pie dish. Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set aside.

To make the filling, put the pumpkin and all of the other filling ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. The consistency will be quite runny - don't be concerned - it will firm up during the cooking process.

Pour the filling into the pastry case.

Bake the pie at 180C for about 1 1/4 hours. Allow to cool before dusting with icing sugar. I serve mine with walnuts, a drizzle of maple syrup and a scoop of cream or ice cream.


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