Pumpkin pie with meringue topping

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes

Vegetables

By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

  • About

This must be the most common vegetable dessert. You’ll find it throughout the USA and, as a kid growing up in New Zealand, I would make it often. It’s also great baked in a pie dish with a biscuit-crumb base in place of the pastry. If you can’t get pumpkin, you can use butternut squash successfully, and kumara and firm sweet potatoes also work surprisingly well. If you want to serve this as a cold dessert, you need to be aware that the meringue will collapse if left for too long. So, it’s better to make the pie(s) up to the stage where you have baked the filling, but then let them cool. Just before serving, whisk up the meringue as described and bake.

Ingredients

  • 300 g shortcrust pastry
  • 300 g pumpkin, peeled and deseeded, flesh cut into chunks
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 4 drops of pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons icing sugar
  • runny cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

Method

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line four 10 cm loose-bottomed tart pans or one 24 cm pan. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Line the tart shell(s) with baking parchment, weight with baking beans or dried pulses and blind-bake until just golden brown (12–15 minutes). Remove from the oven, then remove the beans and lining paper.

While the pastry is being prepared, place the pumpkin and a pinch of salt in a medium-sized pan and cover with cold water. Cover with a lid and boil until just cooked.

Once the pumpkin is cooked, drain off the cooking water and add the cream, sugar and spices. Mash together over the heat until it comes to a gloopy boil. Take off the heat and whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla. Tip the mixture into the tart shell(s) and bake in the oven until the mixture sets. As the mix is already quite hot, it should only take 8–10 minutes. It’s ready when it feels firm to the touch.

While the mix is baking, whisk the egg whites with the icing sugar until fluffy and glossy. Then spread this on the top of the pie(s), covering the crust. Turn the oven-grill to medium and place the pies on a baking tray about 15cm under it. Keep the door ajar and bake until the meringue colours golden. Take from the oven and carefully remove the pie(s) from the tin(s). Serve with runny cream or vanilla ice cream.