Pie time

November in Australia is not really synonymous with pies. Unless you're talking about fruit mince pies well in advance of Christmas, that is. But since I have a couple of friends from the US, and the biggest dining table of all of us, last November I was responsible for Thanksgiving dinner. And if there's one thing you have to have at Thanksgiving dinner, other than turkey, of course, it's pie.


Being a pumpkin pie novice, I made a practice pie in the week leading up to the big event. All in all, I was pretty happy with it, but still wanted to experiment a bit. I'm glad I did, because the pie I ended up with was delish, getting nods of approval from the people in the know, that is, the non-Australians.

We don't have pie pumpkins in the supermarkets or green grocers around here, so I used butternut. If you're really worried about getting the pumpkin perfect, it's possible to order American canned pie pumpkin online from US foods. For what it's worth, I'd rather save the food miles given there were no complaints about taste or texture.

Pumpkin pie

Pastry

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 tbspn water

Pie filling

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 cups cream
2 cups pumpkin puree*
1 tspn ground nutmeg
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground allspice
4 eggs

Method

Rub together flour and butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix together the egg yolk and water, then add to flour mixture. Shape in to a disc, wrap in cling wrap, and chill for at least half an hour.

Preheat oven to 190 celsius. Lightly grease a 25 cm deep pie dish. Roll the pastry out and line the pie dish. Blind bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan. Bring to a boil, without stirring. Cook until golden - do not over cook as it will turn bitter - reduce heat and add half the cream. Stir until the caramel dissolves then add the remaining cream and bring to a simmer. Whisk together the pumpkin and spices. Whisk in the hot cream mixture, then the eggs.

Place the pie filling in the blind baked pastry case. Reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees and bake for 55 - 60 minutes until golden and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream.

*Roast a one kilo butternut pumpkin in its skin until the centre is soft. De-seed and remove flesh, then mash with a stick mixer or potato ricer. Alternatively, peel and roughly chop the pumpkin and steam until soft. This method will be quicker, however the pumpkin will contain more moisture and be less sweet than the roasted version.

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