No pudding is more synonymous with Thanksgiving than pumpkin pie, and our managing director Renée, who moved to the UK from California three years ago, has shared a little bit of history on this festive sweet treat – as well as her favourite recipe for it:
History of the pumpkin pie
More often than not, any mention of pumpkin pie to my British friends is met with a sceptical raised eyebrow (polite response) or the facial expression a toddler might make when served mushed broccoli. While it’s a staple of the American Thanksgiving table, history attributes the use of pumpkins in baking (or ‘pumpions’ as they were known in the 16th Century) to the English.
Ingesting pumpkin for pudding rather than as a side dish (or as a seasonal spiced latte) may not be your slice of pie, but, if you’re given the opportunity, don’t be afraid to try a bite. You won’t be alone if you find you love the taste (50 million pumpkin pies are devoured each Thanksgiving). If it’s not to your liking, you can be thankful it’s only served once per year.
Pumpkin pie recipe
For the crust:
Yields 1 double crust or 2 single 9″ pie crusts
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 1/2 a cup ice water (can be substituted half water/half vodka for a flakier crust)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
Mix flour, salt and sugar (if desired) in a large mixing bowl. Blend in the cubed butter by hand or using a pastry mixer until pea-sized pieces have formed. Add half the water (or water/vodka) and mix until the dough comes together. If more water is needed, add in tablespoons. Shape the dough into a ball and separate into two pieces. Flatten both into disks, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (dough can be frozen for up to 1 month before using).
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12’’ – 14’’ diameter and transfer to a 9’’ pie tin, crimping the edges to seal. If you have pie weights, line the crust with parchment paper or aluminium foil ; else use a fork to prick the dough to prevent it from rising. Bake at 175C for 15-20 minutes (until crust is lightly browned).
For the pumpkin filling*
- 1 can pumpkin puree (or 450g fresh pumpkin puree)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp table salt
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup (100g) brown sugar
- ¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup
- 3/4cup (175ml) heavy whipping cream
Whisk eggs, sugar, and maple syrup together until smooth. Add pumpkin purée, cream, vanilla, spices and salt until blended.
Heat the oven to 225C. With your pre-baked pie crust on a baking sheet, pour the pumpkin filling into the crust and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 175C and bake for 35-45 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes, until a toothpick about 2’’ from the edge comes out cleanly. If the crust edges are browning, cover with a thin strip of aluminium foil. Cool on a wire rack and top with whipped cream when ready to serve.
*Note: there are many ways this recipe can be adjusted to be dairy free or suitable for vegans. Sweetened condensed milk or dairy alternatives such as coconut milk can be used instead of cream, and caster sugar can be substituted for maple syrup. Sugar, spices and salt can all be adjusted to taste. The one non-substitutable ingredient is the pumpkin!