Pumpkin pie. It sounds weird to anyone born in Australia, where pumpkin is reserved for soup, roast dinners and occasionally for mixing in with mashed potato to make it a little bit healthier. We certainly don't see it as a sweet food, much less a dessert, though as it turns out pumpkin pie is actually a delicious dessert that every Australian should try at some point in their life.
Pumpkin pie image from Shutterstock
Unlike in the good old US of A, you can't walk into a supermarket or a cake shop here and pick up a premade pumpkin pie, so you'll have to make it yourself. Finding a good recipe can also be a struggle, as most of the US sites assume you can just pick up a can of pumpkin puree or a jar of premixed pumpkin-pie specific spices. So I've hunted down and adapted a recipe for a perfect pumpkin pie, using only ingredients that can actually be bought in Australia. You'll find that the recipe is surprisingly simple — just mix everything up, pour it into the base and chuck it in the oven — but be sure to leave at least an hour for cooking time.
You can use a premade crust for this, or any sweet pastry recipe you happen to favour, but this is my favourite easy pie crust.
•1 cup self-raising flour •60gm butter •2 tbsp white sugar •Water
Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Place the flour, butter, sugar and a splash of water in a food processor and pulse until the dough starts to pull together. If it stays crumbly, add another tiny splash of water and pulse again, repeating this process until the dough forms into a ball inside the food processor. Place the dough ball on your greased 9 inch (22cm) pie dish and press the pastry into the dish. Place baking paper over the pastry, pour over a cup of rice (or baking weights if you have them), then bake the shell for about ten minutes at 180 degrees. In the meantime, start on the filling.
As we don't really have the big, sweet orange pumpkins that Americans use, most sources suggest using a Queensland Blue or Kent instead. I've had good results with butternut pumpkins as well, though for this recipe I've used a Kent.
•500gm pumpkin •3 eggs •1 cup brown sugar •300ml cream •2 tsp cinnamon •1 tsp ginger •½ teaspoon of nutmeg •½ teaspoon of allspice •Dash of cracked pepper
Roughly chop the pumpkin and set it in a pot of water to boil until soft. Take it off the heat and drain the water. From here you can mash the pumpkin with a potato masher for a more rustic texture, but I prefer to chuck it in the food processor and blend until it's perfectly smooth.
Add the eggs, sugar, cream and spices and blend until smooth. When it's ready to go in the pastry base, the mixture should be a dark orange colour with little flecks of spice. Turn the oven up to 220 Celsius. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pre-baked crust and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170 degrees and bake for another 30-40 minutes. The pie will still be a little wobbly when it's done cooking, but it'll firm up once it cools down a little.
This pumpkin pie is best served warm with a little bit of cream on the side — canned whippy cream if you want the full American experience, or a dollop of fresh double cream for a more gourmet experience.
Pumpkin pie image from Shutterstock
We invited some of our co-workers to give this recipe a try. Some of them have never tried a pumpkin pie before in their lives, and some of them weren't even sure what a pumpkin pie even was. Here's what they thought:
Chris Jager, Lifehacker Editor: "I'm not a particularly big fan of pumpkins in any of its forms. I used to abhor it as a kid with the same vehemence as beetroot and Brussels sprouts. These days, I tolerate the taste — but only when it's foisted upon me."
"With that disclaimer out of the way, I found Hayley's pumpkin pie to be surprisingly moreish. It was sweet and had a pleasantly soft texture. The worst thing I can say about it is that it's American. Irrational cultural prejudice aside, this is good eatin'. I'd totally scoff another slice if it was offered."
Amanda Yeo, Early morning sub editor: "The concept of pumpkin pie did not initially appeal to me. I was expecting a one note savory ordeal, like congealed pumpkin soup in a pastry shell, or a dinner of roast pumpkin on a bed of roast pumpkin slathered in roast pumpkin sauce. However it was sweet, with a distinct cinnamon flavour that brought to mind spiced cakes. The pie was also more moist than any cake could ever hope to be while still being baked, and the pumpkin made the whole thing feel fresh and healthy (or healthier)."
Rob Hussey, Technology Manager: "I’ve never tried pumpkin pie before, and I can’t say by tasting it that I could tell it was even made from pumpkin. However, it tasted good, with a good amount of crust and super smooth texture to the filling. The additional cream was a nice touch too."
Eric Swenson, Account Manager: "Ah so good."
Benjamin Hutton, Sales Co-ordinator: "I first Pumpkin Pie I ever had was on Thanksgiving a few years back made with all the love and sweetness of mid-western American hospitality. This pumpkin pie took me back to this moment when I first discovered the beauty of pumpkin in a pie."
Alex Walker, Kotaku Journalist: "IT’S F**KING DELICIOUS. I’m a massive fan of pumpkin, but can’t stand preparing pumpkin. I also refuse to pay for that pre-cut nonsense they sell at Coles and Woolies (or just Woolies, for me, because that’s all that services my area), so I generally don’t get anywhere near enough pumpkin in my life as I’d like."
"I was a little worried initially because it was getting heated up in the microwave – microwaved pastry can be a bit sad – but the extra bit of warmth is totally necessary for the earthy filling that Hayley concocted. Having had it with a bit of double cream, I don’t think I’d be satisfied smashing it straight from the fridge (I imagine it’d be like having a cold quiche)."
"The fact that it was missing half the sugar from the recipe is probably what made it for me. It was a real savoury, hearty pie that didn’t feel like a cheat meal and didn’t taste like a sweet. I’d happily eat something like that once a week knowing there was less sugar in it. Pumpkin pie’s great. No wonder the Americans are all over this stuff."
Rae Johnston, Commercial Editor: "I haven’t had pumpkin pie since I worked in a café in the Blue Mountains. No one bought it when it was labelled “Pumpkin Pie”. We changed the signage to “Russian Caramel Cake” and it became our best seller. I think people don’t like the idea of vegetables in sweet things, maybe? In any case, I love pumpkin pie. It’s the best. Especially with a little spoon of good-quality double cream and a light dusting of cinnamon."
This story has been updated since its original publication.