Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Fancy Pumpkin Pie with Meringue Topping

 © Anna Blanch  (all pictures in this post)
I have a confession to make. I have been meaning to post this recipe for two years now. It's hands down the best pumpkin pie I've ever had. I've made it for Thanksgiving dinners, I've made it for Christmas, I even made it once for no reason other than that I wanted to eat some pumpkin pie.
The picture above is actually from the first time I made it. In a springform tin. Because I didn't have anything else left because I had 25 or so people over for Fakesgiving and believe it or not I don't actually own that much baking and cooking equipment.
It was a special day because it was my friend Anna and my first anniversary of being friends (our friendship had started the year before when I, after having cooked for the entire day, had greeted this person I had met the week before at a formal dinner with the now somewhat infamous sentence 'I can I just bitch for a sec?' - see, I can charm complete strangers into being my friends, mum :)).
It was also special because my friend Sandra showed me how to cram two beer-can chickens into the oven at my old apartment, leaving enough space for the sweet potatoes at the bottom. Actually, looking at the pictures I bullied Anna into sending me the other day, we also had a whole baking sheet full of potatoes dauphinoise but I doubt that was in there at the same time...if it was that oven must have been previously owned by Mary Poppins.
I love Fakesgiving dinners because it not only is the best dinner party of the year but also because it means lots and lots of food and nobody complaining that they have to watch what they eat. And people tend to get really creative when they bring stuff along.
This is what our table of awesomeness looked like two years ago:


I'll be sharing pictures of this year's extravaganza with you later this week, but I am forgetting the pumpkin pie recipe again. I found this in Delicious Magazine (I am somewhat in love with the pictures in there...) but made a few changes for ease of execution :) most importantly I don't see a point in buying whole chestnuts and then pureeing them yourself if some genius person in France does it for you and sells it in pretty tins.
I wouldn't bother doubling the filling for this recipe if you are using a 26cm springform tin rather than a pie dish - make a bit more dough and just use the filling as is but if you're really worried, add another half recipe. If you are using a 28cm tart dish, definitely multiply the recipe by 1.5. The meringue topping will easily spread out to accommodate either of these alternative sizes but since you can never have enough meringue topping (I could just start making Pavlova) you could also make more of that if you feel like it. I can't tell you anything about other dish-sizes because I've only tried these three. They all have a somewhat different character but work equally well (adjust the baking time!).

Fancy Pumpkin Pie with Meringue Topping
275g Flour
125g Cold Butter
2 tbsp Icing Sugar
1 large Egg Yolk

450g peeled Butternut Squash, cut into pieces
100g Chestnut Puree (get the unsweetened stuff vanilla is nice, though)
200ml Cream
50g + 65g Raw Cane Sugar
1/2 tsp Mixed Spice
1 tsp Ground Ginger
A pinch of Ground Cloves
50ml Syrup (I've made this recipe both with golden syrup and agave syrup and they're both nice, don't use corn syrup or simple syrup, though...maple syrup should be nice as well, I think)

4 large Eggs,
1/4 tsp Lemon Juice

In a bowl, rub the butter into the flour until your mixture looks like grits. Add a pinch of salt and the icing sugar. Follow with the egg yolk and a tablespoon or two of cold water. Working quickly, bring the dough together. If it helps, use a knife but I find I work faster using my hands. Wrap in cling-film and chill or at least half an hour.
Once he dough is properly chilled, preheat your oven to 180˚C and roll out the dough until it resembles a circle with a diameter of 28cm. Transfer the dough into a buttered 24cm pie dish, prick little holes into the surface and blind bake (use your preferred method) for about 10 minutes or so before you remove whatever you used to hold down the bottom and bake it for another 5-10 minutes.
In a saucepan, bring the butternut squash, 130ml of the cream, first 50g of the sugar to a boil. If the cream does not cover the squash, add hot water until it is submerged. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until you are on the slightly squishy side of tender.
Remove the butternut squash from the pan and boil the cream mixture down until it has the texture of thick double cream. Add the chestnut puree, butternut squash, syrup, and spices. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until it is relatively smooth.
Mix the eggs, egg yolks and remaining 70ml of cream until smooth, then add it to the pumpkin mix. Fill the pre baked shell and bake for 45-50 minutes until the filling is set but the centre has only just done so.
If you over-bake things it won't taste any worse but the filling tends to separate from the shell on the sides and it can start resembling a brick...so err on the side of under-baking here - it will go back into the oven later on anyway.
Whisk the egg whites until they are starting to get fluffy, then add the remaining sugar and lemon juice until stiff peaks form.
Turn down the temperature in your oven to 150˚C, top your pie with mounds of egg whites and return the pie to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the top of the meringue are golden.
You could eat this pie warm or at room temperature and it would be equally nice. I've had it chilled as well and I wouldn't want to repeat that experience but the other two are equally great alternatives.
I hope you have a lovely rest of your week. I also hope I can share some pictures of this year's party with you really soon.

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