Classic American dessert, pumpkin pie, gets a festive twist in the shape of cranberry layer, adding tang and cutting through sweetness. And the pie crust is made from scratch, and to die for.
Love or hate festive desserts?
What is it with classic holiday desserts and their Marmite quality? For the information of the uninitiated: Marmite is the hideous (delicious) yeasty gunk (spread) that you put on your breakfast toast everyday (stay away from the farthest you can). There – that hopefully explains what ‘Marmite quality’ means.
We have the Christmas pudding. The Americans have the pumpkin pie. Both loved or hated in equal measures.
British Christmas pudding
Christmas pudding is an over-fruited, over-boozed (yes, there is such a thing, when it comes to food) concoction which is weirdly steamed instead of baked.
You then put a flame to it, probably in a weak attempt to turn it to ashes so no one has to eat it, but the flame dies smothered with fruit and booze and the pudding is thrown at the defenceless, over-turkeyed Christmas crowd.
American pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie is a strange product: delightful shortcrust pastry case ruined by the bland and sickly at the same time, vegetable (wrong on so many levels) goo. Search ‘why I hate pumpkin pie’ and you get a thousand returns.
Still invariably it rides out at Thanksgiving, Halloween and festivities in between the two. They’d serve it at Christmas too if the Christmas celebrations weren’t somewhat austere in America.
For the lovers of festive desserts
But there are lovers of both too, of course, otherwise they would perish in culinary hell with tongue in aspic and syllabub. For those lovers I have tried my best featuring a baked, unboozed Christmas pudding and now zinging up the blandness of a pumpkin pie with cranberries.
What do you know? It is an improvement – and marrying the festive, autumnal couple clearly produces a stable relationship.
How to make the best pie crust
It is actually easier than going out to the shops, trying to fins a ready made pastry with some decent ingredients in it. Shortcrust or pie crust is basically butter mixed into flour, with a cohesive ingredient: egg or egg yolk, cream or simply water. Mine is the richer variety with yolk and cream - all the nicer for it.
Crust doesn't need to be chilled for hours and hours as long as it's cold enough before going into the oven. This pastry is forgiving, even if it tears or breaks when rolling it out, you can patch it up easily in the dish.
How to make the cranberry and pumpkin filling
Once the crust is blind baked, the filling comes in in two layers: a slightly jammed-up cranberries at the bottom, followed by the pumpkin mousse. That's it; the pie is then baked until set, for about an hour. If your oven has the bottom heating element, your pie will not dry out quite as much as mine on the surface. But it will be just as delicious.