In which I bake my last pie for the time being
I broke my pie dish. I was in the middle of baking a spinach, mushroom and homemade ricotta pie when I banged it against the door and dropped it and that was the end of everything. Pies in my opinion are the best comfort food along with custards (and being south Asian, all combinations of rice) and I am in a situation where I need a lot of comfort food. There is something supremely comforting and serene about rolling out the perfect buttery crust and filling it in with buttery, creamy, eggy goodness and putting it in the oven to condense and become the perfect pie. And then there is the eating of it. Not as comforting, but still. I am one of those cooks who love to give away all the food they make because once it is made it loses all its allure for me. There have however been a few things I have baked in my life which I have loved eating as well and this pumpkin pie is one of them.
Comforting pumpkin pie
For the filling:
1 kg pumpkin plus 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cream
50 g butter
3/4 cup sugar put through a blender to make it superfine
4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks (I use small/ medium eggs)
1 tablespoon mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves)
For the pastry shell:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar blended to make it superfine
100 g butter cubed and frozen
Ice water, if required
When it occurs to you to make this pie, start a day earlier. Cube some cold butter and bung it in the freezer to harden overnight. This needs at least a few hours.
In the morning when it is still cool, take out the butter and put it in a blender alongwith the flour and the sugar.
Pulse a few times until the mixture looks shaggy and there are small pieces of butter coated with flour in it.
Empty this in the bowl you’re going to work the pastry in.
Beat the egg and add it to the mixture making a well in the middle as you do so.
Gently bring together the buttery floury bits, mixing with the egg, taking care to not overknead. There should be whole bits of butter in the prepared dough. Add a bit of ice water if necessary. The aim of this is to not get the butter to melt.
If you feel the butter is melting, put the dough in the freezer for 10/ 15 minutes before taking it out and working it again.
Once the dough just comes together, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate (not freeze) for two hours. It is very important to not knead this dough because that will melt the butter. You need the butter to be whole and solid so it can melt in the oven and help the pastry puff up.
Coat the pumpkin liberally with the two tablespoons butter and bake in a 190C oven for an hour and 10 minutes, or until a knife goes in without any resistance. Wait for it to cool, and when it is cool, scrape off the flesh using a spoon, a fork and a knife.
Purée this in the blender along with the butter, cream eggs, sugar and mixed spice till pourable.
At the end of two hours, preheat the oven to 165 C, take a large piece of wax paper (if you are in India tracing paper does fine) and flour it liberally. Seriously you cannot have enough flour.
Take your pie dish and cover it with aluminium foil.
Take out the dough and put it on the floured surface and coat it liberally with flour.
Roll it carefully and don’t worry if it cracks. Just push it back in and roll again.
Upend the prepared pie dish on the rolled out pastry and using the paper as backing flip over the pie dish along with the pastry. Peel off the paper. If you have used enough flour, it should not be a problem.
Lift the pastry a little bit from the edge using your hands, a bit at a time and push it in towards the inner edges of the pie dish, so as to not leave any gap between the pastry and the pie dish.
Using a knife cut off the overhang. Prick the pastry all over with a fork.
Now cover it with another sheet of aluminium foil and fill the dish with pie weights. (I used red kidney beans. You can use any kind of beans or coins). This is to help the pastry to not puff up or shrink.
Blind bake this in the oven for 15 minutes and then take out the pie weights and the aluminium foil and bake for another 3 minutes or so.
Pour in the blender mix, taking care to not overfill the shell.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the filling jiggles slightly when nudged.
Let it cool in the oven for 20 minutes to 1/2 an hour before taking it out and cooling it. The pie bakes in its own heat so it is not advised to cool this in the fridge.
Once cooled completely, demould and eat with whipped cream.