the pumpkin and the pie

October was a dizzy month, a month marked by pumpkin festivals in West Berlin, international art fairs, Halloween parties at soviet themed bars, and hunts for furniture. (We now have a table, but no couch meaning that because we can't afford the ridiculous prices, that both stores and private sellers alike demand for couches that resemble the carcasses of dead fabric, I have taken to drawing furniture and pinning pictures of attractive couches and chairs to our walls).

Somewhere in between, I developed a horrible case of homesickness for Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving of course). This translates as a homesickness for pumpkin pie.

It isn't as if Germany doesn't recognize the brilliance that is the pumpkin. I did, after all, stumble across a pumpkin festival. (Read: another excuse for Germans to sell beer and sausages in the middle of the street on a nice day, something that they are able to justify doing just about every weekend or so. From the Obama speech to pumpkin festivals to neighbourhood celebrations to the birthday's of small children, beer is poured and sausages are grilled.) Sure we did have pumpkin soup - really, isn't pumpkin soup just a terrible waste of the precious pumpkin guts that should be reserved only for baking and perhaps also jams - and we did eat pumpkin cupcakes complete with cream cheese icing, but we all know that pumpkin soup and pumpkin cupcakes do not equal to pumpkin pie.

Something had to be done, a thought that visits me often when I begin to crave a certain food. This thought is usually followed by a large wooden spoon.

The North American solution is to buy a can of pumpkin and a frozen pie crust, something that would make even the most sever of pumpkin cravings smile with its mouth full. However, Europe hasn't caught on to the idea of canned pumpkin, or to frozen pie crusts. Frozen tart crusts are a different story, but a tart just doesn't sound as satisfying as a pie.

One October afternoon, somewhere between the Joseph Beuys exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhoff and attempts to buy a a somewhat couch like couch on ebay, I baked a pumpkin pie. By bake, I mean to make a pie crust, to cool it, and to dissect a pumpkin (or more accurately, have my partner dissect a pumpkin, of which he did an excellent job), to boil its flesh until soft, to mash it, and then to bake a pie in the convenient North American sense of the word.

Once again, Epicurious was my first source and after several recipes were snipped, trimmed, and then assembled into a single recipe this is what I ended up with.

Butter Pastry Dough
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter crumbled into bits
4 tblsp. (and perhaps more) of ice water as needed

Combine flour and salt. Add crumbled bits of butter gradually until mixed. Add ice water and kneed until dough forms. Wrap in baking paper and refrigerate for at least an hour before use.

Maple Syrup Spiced Pumpkin Pie
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tblsp. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups pumpkin (no canned pumpkin for this one, we used a combination of two different pumpkins)
3 tblsp. maple syrup
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream

and a handful of toasted walnuts to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 180F/350C. Whisk together sugars, flour, salt and spices in a large bowl. Gradually add in pumpkin, maple syrup, eggs, and then cream. Roll out dough between two pieces of baking paper. If you don't have a rolling pin, then an empty beer bottle does the trick. Once thin, place dough into a pie form and patch any holes. Trim off excess dough. Finish it off by pouring the pie mixture into the crust. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the center is just set. Top with a ring of chopped toasted walnuts and eat with a generous serving of fresh whipping cream.

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