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The most delicious spiced pumpkin pie
Now that autumn is here, the best way to celebrate the new season is to embrace all it has to offer. From the beloved hot chocolate to the sweet pumpkins and spiced mulled wine, ’tis the season with the best flavours!
Pumpkin pies are a universally loved and cherished autumnal treat for their distinct aroma and enticing smell. Pumpkins are some of the most versatile squashes, and I just love them roasted, baked or pureed. Back in my home country, Romania, pumpkins are especially popular because we simply grow so many of them each year! I remember the gorgeous smell coming from my grandmother’s kitchen whenever she used to bake her signature pumpkin pie. Pies in Romania are very different to Western ones, as they are typically made with filo pastry and are not baked using intense spices. The pumpkin flavour is left to speak for itself.
I had my first American style pumpkin pie a few years back, at an autumn fair. The intense flavour of all the spices and delicate cream is still a memory I cherish to this day. Ever since then, I have started my quest for the perfect spiced pumpkin pie; one that celebrates pumpkins but packs a full flavour. I am proud to say that I have finally found it!
My recipe for the pumpkin pie has roasted pumpkin, a mix of spices and delicate cream cheese frosting. Decorated with candied lemon slices, caramelised ginger and crunchy leaves, this pie is guaranteed to be a hit with everyone!
Let's talk about crust baby!
It’s no secret that a great pie needs to have a crispy, yet light crust. I find it that more often than not, the crust of pies tends to get overlooked. Pie crust can very easily go wrong, and you can end up with the dreaded ‘soggy bottom‘ – Mary Berry knows what I’m on about!
There are a few ways to avoid a wet crust on the bottom, but the most efficient one is blind baking your shell before pouring in the pumpkin filling. In order to blind bake simply add some baking paper over your pie crust, then fill the inside with baking marbles or beans or rice. Afterwards, bake the crust for 10 minutes until it starts to get a bit of colour.
For the crust in this recipe, I went with a French pastry called pâte sucrée (or sweet pastry). This is one of my favourite ever tart crust, and also the one I used for my Blueberry Meringue Tart from Crazy Delicious on Netflix.
This type of crust is more commonly used for tarts, as it is quite crunchy, yet delicate when baked. Making it is really easy, and all you need is: flour, sugar, butter, eggs and salt.
Canned or roasted pumpkin?
Although convenience is quite important, I believe that a truly special bake needs to be made from scratch. Canned pumpkin works well if you’re in a rush and don’t have an extra hour to make your own. However, if you truly want to get the most fragrant pumpkin aroma you can, it’s definitely worth making your own.
It’s genuinely super easy, all you need is a pumpkin and an oven. For this pie, you need a small pumpkin, either a sugar pumpkin or a Queensland blue. These two types of pumpkins are quite fragrant and sweet, perfect for making spiced pumpkin pie.
Cut the pumpkin into quarters, remove the seeds, then sprinkle with a bit of salt and drizzle with some olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes at 180C until the pumpkin flesh becomes soft and fragrant. To make the puree, let the roasted pumpkin cool for a few minutes, then scoop it out with a spoon. Place in a blender or food processor and pulse until you obtain a smooth paste. Et voilà, your freshly made pumpkin puree is done!
Spicing up the spiced pumpkin pie
Here’s my favourite part: the spices! The perfect flavour for the spiced pumpkin pie is a combination of:
I like to highlight these spices by adding orange zest, as well as some maple or butterscotch syrup.
250g plain flour
100g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter
1 egg (50g)
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
400g roasted pumpkin (pureed)
300g double cream
3 whole eggs
100g light brown sugar
1 tangerine or orange
Zest of one orange
1 tbsp butterscotch sauce
1 tsp dark maple syrup
1 tsp orange extract
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cloves powder
½ tsp ginger powder
Cream cheese frosting
200g double cream
100g cream cheese
½ tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
100g icing sugar
- In a food processor place the flour, icing sugar, a pinch of salt and unsalted butter (cold) cut into cubes.
- Mix until you get a sandy texture.
- Beat 1 egg quickly and pour it over the dough. Mix until the dough just about sticks together.
- Place in a cling film and press it slightly into a flat rectangle for ease of rolling later on. Chill for 20 minutes.
- Once chilled, roll out thinly (around 4mm thickness) and place in a 25cm (10”) tin.
- Place some baking paper over it and fill with baking marbles. Bake at 180deg C for 15 minutes.
The pumpkin filling
**If using canned pumpkin, go to step 4.
- If you’re using fresh pumpkin, cut in quarters and remove the seeds. Sprinkle with salt and olive oil and roast for 40 minutes at 180deg C.
- Let the pumpkin cool slightly, then puree in a food processor until you obtain a smooth paste.
- Add one peeled and sliced orange or tangerine over the pumpkin puree. Pulse the mixture in a food processor to combine into a fine paste. Sieve the mixture to remove any skins or seeds.
- In a large bowl add the pumpkin puree, cream, spices, zest, sugar, syrups and extracts. Combine well, and taste to see if it’s spiced enough. Add more spices if needed.
- Add the eggs and combine well.
- Place the filling inside the pie crust, then bake for 35-40 minutes at 180deg C. The pie should be firm, with a slight wobble in the middle.
- Let the pie cool at room temperature before chilling. Do not remove from tart tin until completely chilled.
- Decorate with cream cheese, candied lemon slices and ginger, and leaves made from tart crust.
The cream cheese frosting
- Mix the double (heavy) cream with the icing sugar and use a hand mixer to combine.
- Once you get firm peaks in the cream, add the cream cheese, salt and lemon juice.
- Mix to combine and firm up for piping.
- Place in a piping bag and decorate the tart or store in the fridge for later use.
Canned pumpkin can be used, although freshly roasted pumpkin is recommended. Spices can be adjusted to personal preference, so please remember to taste the filling before adding in the eggs. Maple syrup or butterscotch sauce can be left our or substituted for more light brown sugar (extra 2-3 tsp). Let the pie chill completely before removing from the tart tin. I recommend using a tin with removable base.