Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving in Estonia: baking a pumpkin pie without Crisco and canned pumpkin

A selection of pumpkins at Tallinn Central Market, September 2007

Last week I got an email from a young American women who had recently moved to a small town in South-West Estonia. She wants to host a Thanksgiving dinner to her family and local friends, but didn't know where to get a whole turkey (not the most popular poultry bird here in Estonia) nor did she had a recipe for pumpkin pie that didn't use canned pumpkin and Crisco. I promised to post a recipe for an "Estonian" version of the American pumpkin pie, using the widely available yellow pumpkin, just like the one pictured above on the left.

This is for you, Laura W. :)

Pumpkin Pie
(Ameerika kõrvitsapirukas)
Serves 10

For the pie crust:
175 g plain flour
2 Tbsp sugar
125 g butter
1 egg yolk

300 g coarsely chopped yellow pumpkin
2 eggs
175 g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
a pinch of salt
2 Tbsp plain flour
200 ml whipping cream (35%)

For serving:
whipped cream and cinnamon

Make the pie crust first, by mixing flour, sugar and butter with a knife until crumbs for. Add egg yolk and knead until the pastry forms a ball. Line a 24-26 cm pie dish with the pastry (either rolling the pastry and transferring to the pie dish, or simply pressing it into the dish with your fingers). Place to the fridge for 30 minutes to relax.
Place cubed pumpkin into a small saucepan, pour over enough water just to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft. Drain thoroughly!!! Cool a little, then pureé with a blender.
Whisk the eggs slightly, then mix with cooled pumpkin alongside with other ingredients.
Pour the filling onto the pie crust.
Bake in the lower part of a 200 C / 400 F oven for 40-50 minutes, until the filling is golden brown and almost set.
Cool completely before serving with some whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.


Kristopher said...

This does seems very Estonian as the #1 pumpkin food I know here is cubed and marinated sweet and sour pumpkin.

I have had so many technical problems with the "ordinary" pumpkins -- getting rid of the excess water. I have done everything, increasing the eggs, prebaking the crust, but it still ends up soggy. Maybe the cubes are the trick.

Anyway, for the past 5 years, I have used only baked sweet potatoes or butternut squash relatives -- also baked. Sweet potato especially has a great texture and cuts the necessary amount of sugar. The spices cover up the difference. Once I even added pureed parsnip.

Maimu said...

For Canadian Thanksgiving, we have been using Tallegg's baking bag roast chickens (ahjukana) for the past few years. They're not as big as turkeys, but very tasty! The ones with ligonberries and the one with apples and plums are super tasty- much much better than frozen turkey from France. (and most of the guests didn't even realize that it was chicken and not turkey!) ;o)

Triin said...

Since I love to use pumpkin in my cooking myself, I have used the exact method described by you, Pille, for making pumpkin puree, and frozen about 10 3/4 cup or 200 ml plastic bags with it. Very convenient! As for turkey, I have found it frozen at Rimi and Prisma supermarkets.

Manya said...

Believe it or not, many of us in America make a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin and we don't use Crisco in the crust! The smaller so-called "sugar" pumpkins have less water content and are perfect for this application. Your butter crust is spot-on and would be my choice for this pie. My only suggestion to improve your method is to let the pumpkin puree sit for a while in a strainer so that excess water drains from it. Ever resourceful Pille!

David T. Macknet said...

No allspice? No nutmeg? No vanilla? No mace? No cloves? No black pepper?

Hmm. Methinks that's a rather bland pie.

Kalyn Denny said...

I am impressed. Would you believe I've never made pumpkin pie even once?

Claudia said...

Yes, to post Crisco, canned pumpkin generation, Pille. Some of us have never used the stuff. My mother did, and made great pies, but after I read the stuff about hydrogenated fats, it just reinforced a proclivity for butter.

I'm going to be experimenting with my pie this year, adding a bit of ground wattleseed to the spice mix. Just got some and am trying it here and there to see how it goes. Also, making more of a pumpkin cheesecake thing.

Kristopher said...

Agree with DaviMack. :S But I've always been a tyrant about this pie. I would also insist on 3 tsp cinnamon per 2 cups pumpkin, fresh ginger, and add traces of carob, cocoa, vanilla, maybe hold the black pepper - though garam masala, that might be interesting... And two eggs sounds really low.

Nii..I'll stop before I make enemies. :)

Maybe you could use coconut fat for that Crisco-like crunchiness.

David T. Macknet said...

Kristopher, Kabocha Squash is the answer to the technical problems. If you can get hold of one, you'll see: they're just so much more flavorful, and denser, than pumpkins.

Coconut Fat would be awesome, I think! Maybe even some shredded coconut in the crust, too.

I include black pepper in my garam masala, so ... ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I can't wait to try it!

stefafra said...

I usually cook pumpkin, diced, in the microwave in a partially covered bowl without any water.
This greatly reduces the amount of water in the cooked pumpkin, and you can leave the bowl uncovered a couple of minutes after cooking, to let more steam (and so water) escape.
However the variety of pumpkin you use is sometimes the main problem and not even cooking it in the (normal) oven will dry it.

Pille said...

Kristopher - nice idea about using sweet potato instead - if they only were more readily available over here!!!

Maimu - apparently they managed to find a whole turkey from Valga's Maxima, so the problem seems to be solved now!

Triin - I should use that pre-bake and puree and freeze tip next year. I'm planning to grow quite a few pumpkins in our new veggie garden!

Mary - I do believe you and am quite sure that most American foodbloggers would avoid Crisco and use "real" pumpkin. However, the lady in need wasn't a foodblogger and only had Crisco & canned pumpkin recipes in hand. Hence this version!

DaviMack - it wasn't bland! There's ginger and cinnamon and the pumpkin itself. But of course, you can add all the spices you like. I might try with Estonian gingerbread spice mixture myself next time!?

Kalyn - well, there's always a chance to correct that shortcoming ;)

Claudia - the pumpkin cheesecake sounds great!!! I'll try to do something along those lines as well. Re: wattleseed - I've read about that Aussie bush spice, but never used myself. I wonder what does it taste like??

Kristopher - the two eggs set the cake beautifully - there's not so much pumpkin and cream in the filling to really justify more (imho) ;) Also, why would you use both carob and cocoa? I thought the first is the "healthier" replacement for the second. And no enemies made (I'm still hoping that you & co will stop by for a piece of cake. Not offering you a pumpkin pie, obviously :D)

DaviMack - I'd love to use Kabocha but it's not grown here and I haven't managed to find seeds yet ,or I'd grow my own Kabocha next year..

Laura - hope you'll enjoy this!!

Stefafra - the pumpkin variety definitely plays a role as well.

Pille said...

Kristopher and DaviMack, the eternal sceptics :) I've got Saveur's "Dessert" recipe supplement with me here, and there's a recipe for Pumpkin Pie by Marion Cunningham, who "knows as much about pie as anybody in America". Hers has a flour-salt-shortening crust (as opposed to flour-salt-butter). BUT - the filling has two eggs, 1 tsp cinnamon, 0.25 tsp on ginger and a pinch of cloves. (so that's different from mine; note the number of eggs). No nutmeg, no vanilla, no mace :P
Surely Saveur wouldn't choose a bland recipe for its pumpkin pie :D