One of the earliest recipes for pumpkin pie was published in a French cookbook in the 17th century. Even the word pumpkin is said to come from the French word pompion which came from the Greek pepon, meaning melon.
Recipe for French style pumpkin pie
For the pastry base: (or use shop bought short crust pastry)
250 g flour
50 g icing sugar
125 g unsalted, cold butter of good quality, in small cubes
1 large egg, beaten
a dash of milk
Oil to grease the spring form pan
For the filling:
1500 g pumpkin, peeled, seedless and diced into 2 cm cubes
500 ml whole milk
200 g light brown granulated sugar
1 vanilla pod, split length ways and scrape out the seeds
2 large eggs
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
If you’re not using shop bought shortcrust pastry – here’s how to make your own sweet pastry for this pie. It can be made by hand or in a food processor. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Use your fingers to work the butter into the dry mixture until it has the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg and milk and knead the dough into a smooth ball. Do not knead too long, otherwise the base will become elastic and tough instead of crumbly and crispy.
Dust the ball of dough and a clean work surface with flour and press it into a thick, flat disc. Dust with more flour, wrap the dough in kitchen foil and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Grease a 25 cm non-stick springform pan with oil. Dust a clean work surface and your rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of about half a cm. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and roll it over the springform pan. Press the dough well into the edge. Cut off any overhanging edges and use the pieces to fill any holes. Pierce the dough with a fork, cover with kitchen foil and freeze for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 180 °C (gas oven setting 4).
In the meantime, put the pumpkin, milk, sugar and vanilla (stick and seeds) in a small deep pan and put it on medium heat. Keep stirring so that the mixture does not burn and turn the heat down when it boils. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, then put the lid on at an angle and cook for a further 15 minutes until the pumpkin pieces are soft and cooked. Remove the pan from the heat, fish out the vanilla pod and very gently chop the mixture with a hand blender until smooth and velvety. Leave the filling to cool and put a lid on the pan to prevent it from becoming coated.
While the pumpkin mixture is cooling, place a piece of baking paper in the pastry base and press it firmly into the edge. Fill the base with uncooked rice and bake it blind in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove the rice and the piece of baking paper (save for next time) and put the tin back into the oven for another 10 minutes until the dough is firm and almost cake-like. Allow the base to cool completely and reduce the oven temperature to 160 °C (gas oven setting 3).
Beat the two eggs, add them to the pumpkin mixture and mix well again with a pinch of nutmeg if you’re using it. Pour the mixture into the pastry and put the pie into the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the surface has solidified but the filling is still a little lumpy inside. Allow the tart to cool and serve with a dash of cream or a spoonful of crème fraîche.
Pumpkin Crème brulée
A slice of pumpkin pie makes for a delicious crème brulée! Simply sprinkle some sugar over your pumpkin pie and toast it with a kitchen blow torch…
Recipe by My little French Kitchen www.instagram.com/mylittlefrenchkitchen
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