Tarts and Pies

Pumpkin Pie-Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween! And happy semi-final of The Great Irish Bake Off day! So many things happening today to celebrate…well that is until tonight’s episode. I may have an extra drink or seven before watching it. But I’ll say no more you’ll have to watch and see whether I manage to get over this final hurdle.

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Pumpkin Pie is just fantastic. The first time I ever attempted to make one was back in my first year of University, which was around the time that I had really started to take a liking to baking. I’m quite a decent cook so I know what flavours and ingredients go together or are similar to each other. This is perhaps what is to blame for the confusion and resulting failure that followed. Squash, I knew, was a near perfect substitute for pumpkin and Squash is nearly always part of a savoury dish. So I assumed pumpkin pie would be savoury. After scouring the internet for recipes I kept coming up with sweet recipes so I gave up and took a recipe, omitted the sugar and spices and added some seasoning resulting in the most bland (and runny) pie I’ve ever tasted!

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It wasn’t until next year I reattempted. Now more able and experienced in all areas of baking I used a recipe from my sister husband (who is American) with amazing results. Since then I have loved all things pumpkin spiced/flavoured. Speaking of you should try out my Pumpkin spice Brioche Buns.

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This recipe is taken straight from Eric Lanlard’s book ‘Tart it up’ with only 1 addition of my own in the form of the mixed spice. I highly recommend this book as well as his others. Eric is perhaps the pastry chef whom I admire most. I think we have a similar train of thoughts and his style really suits me. Meeting him would be one massive tick off the bucket list.

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You will need:

Pastry:
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
4 tbsp caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, cubed and cold
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cold water

Filling:
1 kg pumpkin puree, canned or freshly made*
400g canned condensed milk
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmed
½ tsp mixed spice

Icing sugar for dusting

*Simply cut open a pumpkin and roast for about 35-40 minutes at 200°C/180°C fan. The flesh will become very soft. Scoop out the flesh and blend until smooth.

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How to do it:

  1. Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl and add the butter. Rub together with your fingers until breadcrumb like. Make a well and add the remaining ingredients apart from the water. The pastry will be very sticky so you may not need all or any of the water, just mix until the dough seems to come together.
  2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently a few times to make a ball. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
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  3. Meanwhile place all the ingredients for the filling into a large bowl and mix well to combine.
  4. Roll out the chilled pastry until slightly bigger that the size of your tart tin and about 5mm thick. Using the rolling pin wrap the pastry around it and drape over the tart tin. Use your fingers to push the pastry into and up the sides of the tin.
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    Roll the rolling pin over the top to cut off any excess pastry.
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  5. Pour the filling into the prepared pastry case.
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    Bake at 180°C/160°C fan for 50-55 minutes or until just set but with a slight wobble in the middle. Cool in the tins before serving.

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Super silky and bursting with flavour this really is a special treat. Maybe that’s why pumpkins are only in season once a year otherwise we would be eating pumpkin pie non-stop and be the size of houses!

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You can also jazz this pie up by making it look a little more Halloweeny. For a simple chocolate ganache melt 2 parts chocolate to 1 part double cream and leave to set slightly. When ready pour over the pie evenly. Melt some white chocolate and draw a few concentric circles.
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Using a toothpick drag from the centre out all the way around the pie. You will end up with a spider web design.

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So tonight Maryanne, Will, Oonagh and myself face the judges again, one of us for the last time and for 3 of us the penultimate time. I have loved my Great Irish Bake Off journey thus far and all the support has been incredible so thank you. Cheer on for me tonight!

Thanks for reading,

Stephen

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