Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!! Zero Allergy, Maximum Flavour Good Ol' Pumpkin Pie

Hello crazy caterpillars....

and a Happy thanksgiving to you all xx

Now here in Scotland, Thanksgiving is not something that we traditionally celebrate however the holiday is slowly but surely making its way into our homes and (most importantly) our bellies.

I’m not a skinny-minnie and therefore any excuse really to eat excellent home cooked grub is fine by me and I just love some of the dishes that find their way into family tables at this time of year.  I have a few American cookbooks that I’ve purchased over the years and through my travels and I was struggling to decide what I’d put in my thanksgiving blog but the more I thought about it the more the easy the answer became.  Pumpkin pie.  You cannot surely have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?  That would be wrong and punishable by law, surely?

Everyone I talk to seems to have a different way of making it.  Some have a short crust pie case others have a biscuit base, some have marshmallows and some have nuts but all have the creamy and sweet pumpkin filling that is so synonymous with this time of year.  It’s a really harvest dessert and I think it should be eaten any time of year, not just thanksgiving, it’s that good.

In the States it is easy to buy cans or tins of pre-made pumpkin puree but I’ve never seen these here (in the UK) so this recipe includes how to make your very own pumpkin puree from scratch.  Yes it is another step and if you can find a can of pre-made puree in the shops or online then feel free to skip this step, but it’s not rocket science and just adds to the baking pleasure.

This particular recipe is vegan, nut safe and gluten free and is utterly delicious.  I love this stuff and if you haven’t tried it then you haven’t lived.

If you’re lucky (and stingy with the portions) this might feed about 8 but if you’re Scottish (or just really hungry) this will make about 6 portions.  Be realistic, you’ll have more than one helping so don’t pretend you’re watching your waistline!

So here we go,  

The Carefree Bakers Zero Allergy with Maximum Flavour 
Good Ol’ Pumpkin Pie!


For the gluten free, vegan short crust pastry

480g of your favourite gluten free flour (rice flour alone also works very well)
240g dairy-free spread (straight from the fridge, it needs to be really cold – even put it in the freezer the night before and grate it into the mixture!)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
120 g sugar 
4 – 8 tablespoons very cold water

Pie Filling

2 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (~1 1/2 15-ounce cans) OR 1 medium pumpkin (prepared as below – you need about 700 grams of thick puree)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk
1 tablespoon of olive oil OR melted coconut oil
2 and a half tablespoons corn flour OR arrowroot powder
1 level teaspoon of cinnamon
Half a teaspoon of ginger
Pinch of salt


If you are making your own pumpkin puree then remove the skin of the pumpkin, cut in half (being careful), remove the seeds and chop into small (roughly an inch square) pieces.

Put the pieces into a pot and pour enough water into the pot so that the water goes at least half way up the side of the pumpkin.  You really want to steam this rather than boil all the goodness and taste out of it so don’t put too much water in.  Put the lid on the pot and leave to steam over a medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until the pumpkin is very soft. 

Drain off any excess water and return to the pot to steam for a couple of minutes over a very low heat.  You’re just trying to get the excess water out of the pumpkin so that it’s not too watery.  You want a nice thick but creamy puree that’s not diluted by water.

Once it’s steamed, pour the pumpkin pieces into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a thick puree.  If you don’t have a mechanical kitchen slave then use some elbow grease and use either a potato masher or potato ricer but you’ll probably need to beat the mashed/riced pumpkin until you get a smooth consistency.

Or you could open a can, if you can find one but where’s the fun in that!

Anyway, onwards.... It’s pie crust time..

The principles of ‘regular’ pastry apply (e.g. half fat to flour plus sugar for sweet pastry) and although the results are slightly different they are very satisfying.  The pastry produced is slightly lighter in colour and more crumbly in texture. 

You can use a food processor to make this but be careful not to overwork it. Making the pastry by hand is also easy but takes a little more time and effort.


1.                  Sift the flour and xanthan gum in to a food processor or mixing bowl
2.                 If you’re using a food processes, cut the margarine in to cubes and pulse in the processor, or, if you’re working manually, grate the hard margarine into the flour and then use a dry knife to make sure the margarine gratings are coated in flour and not just gathering into one large lump.  Then use your finger tips, lightly run the mixture until the mixture begins to resemble breadcrumbs.  Your hands transfer heat and you don’t want the mixture to get too hot, so just use your fingertips very lightly, not the palms of your hands.
3.                  Add the sugar now and mix gently using a cold clean metal spoon or fork.
4.         Add the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse (or stir using the fork) until the mixture begins to form a dough. Pull the mixture together in to a ball and kneed very gently until smooth (~1-2 minutes)
5.         Wrap in cling-film or put in a freezer bag and place in a fridge until required.
6.         The pastry will keep for up to a week in the fridge and also freezes well but let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour before rolling out.
7.         Use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry to the required size of your tin.  You want the rolled out pastry to be large enough to completely cover the inside of your tin and up the sides too. Put some baking parchment down on your work surface and a small quantity of rice flour to stop the dough from sticking or roll it out between two sheets of cling film or silicone sheets as this will help get one even thickness.
8.         Using the rolling pin, very gently pick up the rolled out pastry and lay it into the tin.  Make sure you get the pasty right into the corners of the tin and all the way up the sides.  There should be enough pastry to spill over the sides of the tin, do not trim this, just leave it be, the pastry will shrink slightly during cooking and by leaving the excess over the sides this will make sure that after it’s baked the pastry will still cover all the sides.  
9.         Very lightly fork the sides and base of the pastry.  Don’t put your fork all the way through though.  Then using a piece of greaseproof or baking parchment, place over the pastry and fill the tin with a good amount of baking beans or dried pulses. 
Blind bake at 180 (or 175 degrees C for fan ovens) for about 15 minutes.
11.       Remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes to make sure it is golden brown and completely blind baked.  We don’t want any soggy bottoms.
12.       Remove from oven and put to the side.
13.       Once cooled, take a sharp nice and skim the excess crust from the top of the tin.  You should have a nice, smooth crust now.
 14.       For the pie filling, add all pie ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. The spices in this recipe can really be adjusted for personal preference so if you like more cinnamon, add more cinnamon, if you like more ginger..well, you get the idea.  Once you’re happy with the taste, set it aside.
15.       Pour the filling into pastry case and bake at around 175 degrees C (fan assisted) for 30 minutes (but check after 25 to be on the safe side). The crust should be light golden brown and the filling will still be just a bit jiggly and have some cracks on the top.
16.       Remove from oven and let cool completely before loosely covering with tin foil and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set for 4-6 hours, preferably overnight.

17.       Serve a huge chunk of this bad boy with either your favourite 
            shop-bought ice cream or vegan whipped cream (recipe here). 

Eat and enjoy.

So happy thanksgiving y’all; give thanks and be thankful.



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