pumpkin pie

The special trick to transform your pumpkin pie

I’d never had pumpkin pie before moving to America but I love it. It’s not that different to a nutmeggy British egg custard tart (one of my faves) really. It is the perfect end to an Autumnal dinner so I’ve written my recipe which includes a special stage that you won’t see in many other recipes.

You can see a picture of my first every pumpkin pie below (well half of it) when I made it in a cabin in Tahoe on our second Thanksgiving in America.

Buy canned pumpkin or make your own?

Canned pumpkin puree is the way to go here, aside from being a faff, I have found that making my own pumpkin puree can be watery. Unfortunately the pumpkins sold to carve aren’t grown for flavour so I would just compost the innards rather than spend time and money on accompanying ingredients to try and make them into something.

In the UK, canned pumpkin is a newer addition to our shelves and is often only stocked in the Autumn. Different supermarkets put it in different places so check out the international aisle with the American foods, the baking aisle or the vegetable aisle. Always ask as it is often in strange places.

The extra stage that elevates things

Roasting the pumpkin and spices before making the filling makes the flavours extra toasty and removes some of the water, giving a firmer set custard.

Get ahead

The pastry can be made ahead of time and frozen or kept in the fridge, well wrapped for 3 days. Or you can line the pie dish and freeze it. If cooking from frozen, add 10 minutes to the blind baking time.

The pie is best made the in the morning or a few hours before eating. Leftovers are best with a coffee for breakfast the next day but if you must, they can be kept in the fridge for 3 days.

Pumpkin pie ingredients

Pastry/pie crust

  • 250g (2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 50g (just over a third of a cup) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 150g (10 tablespoons) cold salted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • around 15ml (just under a tablespoon) iced water


  • 1 can of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon plain or all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • half a teaspoon ground ginger
  • quarter of a teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • Half a cup (125ml) pure maple syrup, Grade B if you can get it
  • half a teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Serve with
whipped cream mixed with maple syrup (around 2 tablespoons maple syrup per cup of double/heavy cream).

thanksgiving in the cabin


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  • food processor
  • digital scales
  • measuring cups or jug
  • measuring spoons
  • foil or parchment
  • rolling pin
  • baking tray
  • silicone liner or parchment
  • 9 inch (22cm) pie dish, around 2-3 inches deep
  • baking beans
  • silicone spatula
  • balloon whisk

How to make pumpkin pie:

Pastry/pie crust

  1. Put the pastry ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it just comes together in a ball. Squeeze the pastry into a thick pancake shape and wrap in foil or parchment and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. The pastry can also be frozen.
  2. Roll the chilled pastry out until it is around 5mm (about an eighth of an inch) thick. I put the chilled pastry between two pieces of flour-dusted baking parchment and roll out to stop it sticking.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C Fan) or 350°F (320°F convection)
  4. Peel the top layer of parchment off the pastry and lay the pastry in a glass, metal or ceramic pie dish around 9 inches (22cm) across, around 2 inches deep. Press any cracks together. Leave 2 inches of the excess pastry hanging over the sides – you can trim it off after the pie is cooked for a neat modern edge. If you are the decorative sort, cut the excess into strips, braid it and lay that around the edge. Prick the base of the pastry case about 8 times all over with a fork.
  5. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill the parchment with baking beans or dried lentils, then bake for 10 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and starting to crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare your filling.

Filling and finishing

  1. Mix the canned pumpkin with the spices and spread thinly onto a parchment or silicone-lined baking tray. Cook at the same oven temperature as you cooked the pastry for 15 minutes.
  2. Scrape the cooked spiced pumpkin into a bowl then add the milk to cool it slightly before adding the eggs, flour, maple syrup and salt. Whisk until smooth before pouring into the pastry. Cook for 55-60 minutes until the centre is just set then leave to cool before using a sharp knife to cut the over hanging edges off the tart (cook’s treat).

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