Pumpkin Pie – Chef Scotty B

Pumpkin Pie…… I have to admit that a few years ago I couldn’t have imagined a more horrendous concept. My childhood experiences with the wider cucurbita family were less than positive one could say.

Queensland grey pumpkin. Image credit: sakata.co.za
Queensland grey pumpkin. Image credit: sakata.co.za

As with most of my unreasonable food phobias it surely stemmed from a case of mistaken identity during a Blomfield family dinner free-for-all. Now, back in the Blomfield house of old, the only pumpkins we ever got were those disgusting grey skinned demon squash from the flavour void (Queensland blue I believe they are called here). During the course of the good old kiwi roast, were everything was ceremoniously drowned in 2 inches of pan gravy (fuck I love pan gravy!!) and as was tradition in those days, all the roast veg was varying shades of black, and barely indistinguishable from one another. Having selected the finest specimens of roast potato at the family buffet one evening, I unwittingly acquired a stowaway.

All gravied up and parked up in my usual spot at the end of the couch in front of the television (we didn’t eat at the table too often as I recall), I loaded up my first fork full of what I could only assume to be potato, and, salivating with anticipation, proceeded to drive the payload into my ravenous maw. What I had expected was the familiar crunch of slightly over crisped skin, followed by the comforting creamy, rich filling of the earths greatest gift to a roast meal; what I got instead was akin to a mouthful of hair mixed with damp dirt, and an alien kind of sweetness similar (in my mind at least) to fermenting grass clipping from the compost heap. The regret of my hasty decision at the feeding trough washed over me like a fever.

“What the fuck is this? What have I done?”

This starchy, fibrous disaster had, in one bite, plastered its filth all over the interior of my unsuspecting gob, and leached its stench into my sinuses. The horror! In that hideous instant I immediately assessed my options and found myself with only 2 sane choices. Either eject this foul intruder from the inside of my head at great velocity, or man up and swallow this shit, trying to chew the minimum amount of times it would require to get this unholy mess down my throat hole without choking! After weighing up possible death from choking, and the certainty of the savagery from the back of my mothers hand upon spitting this poison back onto my dinner plate, I chose, of course, the possibility of death.

From this day forth, having barely survived my encounter with the demon fruit of dirt, I determinedly avoided the conspicuously crescent shaped offerings at the roast pit. And despite my efforts, every now and then one of these oily little land mines would find its way onto my plate. No amount of mums badass pan gravy could mask that foul flavour; it was one of the first things I can remember truly hating.

Flash forward some 20 years or so, (approximately 8 of those spent in commercial kitchens) and I had somewhat made my peace with the dreaded pumpkin. Having prepared it a multitude of ways, and discovering a host of varieties, all of which significantly more palatable than that dirty grey skinned shit of my youth, I still wouldn’t call myself a convert. So when my good friend, who was dating an American girl, offered me a slice of her homemade pumpkin pie, I politely declined while attempting to conceal my gag reflex. He, of course sensing my discomfort, maliciously insisted I allow this monstrosity into my mouth. So, against my better judgement, and bowing to my damnable good manners I took a slice of pie. It was a sublime experience, one bite and I was sold. How is it that my old nemesis (the pumpkin, not my friends girlfriend) was capable of producing such a velvety, almost brulee like filling? I clearly had to rethink some old prejudices.

So, reborn into a brave new world of pumpkin love, I learned to live again, free from the fear of pumpkin kind, at least in confection form; here I present to you my very first attempt at a good ole American style pumpkin pie. And despite my initial reservations about the star ingredient, and the fact that being from New Zealand means that dessert pies are just a bit weird as a concept, this pie is the business people! Enjoy.

Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: med-hard
  • Print

Pastry

Ingredients
  • 260g flour
  • 20g sugar
  • 2g salt
  • 60g vegetable shortening cut into small chunks
  • 180g unsalted butter cut into small chunks
  • 50g egg yolks
Method

Preheat your oven to 220ºc. Sift the dry ingredients together, mix in the butter and the vegetable shortening with your hands until a sandy texture is achieved. Add the eggs yolks one by one, and knead until the dough comes together. If the dough is a bit dry add a Tablespoon of ice cold water and mix until it comes together. Roll the dough into a ball and then flatten, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30mins. Roll out to approximately 1cm thick and then using your fingers, press into a greased cake tin. Trim the excess from the overhanging pastry and reserve for another use (it should keep in the fridge for roughly 5 days), line the pie case with baking paper and fill with either rice or grains and blind bake at 220ºc for 15-20mins or until the edges begin to brown, remove the grains and paper and bake for another 5-10 mins to firm up the bottom of the pie crust.

Placing the pastry into the dish
Placing the pastry into the dish

Filling

Ingredients
  • 1100g butternut pumpkin peeled, diced, and deseeded
  • 110g sugar
  • 70g browns sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 4g ground ginger
  • 8g ground cinnamon
  • 1g ground nutmeg
  • 0.5g (one pinch) ground cloves
  • 190g cream
  • 170g whole milk
  • 3 whole eggs
Method

To make pumpkin puree, put the pumpkin dice into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer and cook for 10-15minutes until the pumpkin is very soft. Once cooked drain the pumpkin in a colander and set it over the warm pot and cover with a towel. This will steam dry the pumpkin. Transfer the dried pumpkin to a blender and blend on high speed until very smooth. Pass the puree through a sieve. Measure out 900g of puree and combine that with the sugars, salt and spices. Transfer into a pot and cook out on a low temperature until the mix is smooth and glossy. And milk and cream and stir until well combined. Whisk eggs together and then add to the mix. Pour the mix into warm pie crust and bake at 190c for 50-60 mins. The edges should be quite firm and there should still be a slight wobble in the middle of the pie filling when it is ready. Cool at room temp before cutting. Serve with a butt load of whipped cream.

Pumpkin pie fresh from the oven
Pumpkin pie fresh from the oven

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