Pumpkin pie will prove just desserts

As we become more and more aware of environmental concerns and issues surrounding sustainability, it is perhaps time to start giving serious thought to the annual pumpkin carve-up. Pumpkin is quite a versatile food, although the mess might put people off, and the flesh and seeds are perfect for turning into delicious meals.
Pumpkin pie is something of an American delicacy, but it’s fairly easy to make and looks great. Ingredients can be switched around and there are many versions available. Why not experiment a little.

You’ll need:
750g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded (save the seeds), cut into chunks; 350g sweet shortcrust pastry (you can make this, but life’s too short); 140g caster sugar; ½ tsp salt; 2 eggs, beaten; 25g butter, melted; 175ml milk (some recipes use evaporated milk); Spices: ½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated, 1 tsp cinnamon, you use ginger if you wish, or even more exotic spices; 1 tbsp icing sugar for dusting (optional).

Here’s what you do:
Place the pumpkin chunks in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain the pumpkin and leave to cool.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and then line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill this for 15 minutes. You will need to blind bake as the pumpkin mixture will be runny. Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and cook for a further 10 minutes until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove the tin from the oven and allow it to cool slightly.
Now, turn the oven up to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon (whichever spices you choose to use). Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk to the spice combo then add to the pumpkin purée and stir it all together to combine.
Pour the puree into the blind baked pastry and cook for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the filling has just set.
Leave this to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. If you want to add an extra detail, mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. You could also add a squirt of cream or a dollop of crème fraîche. Serve chilled.

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