We harvest 20-40 pumpkins from our Alpine garden every October, dry them for a month on the warm stones of the veranda to harden them off, then store them in a cool dark area for winter eating. We grow them at 1,100 metres altitude, on dirt mixed with a good dose of the neighboring farmer’s cow dung. These are happy pumpkins!
They are always lovely, lasting about three to four months, but the best is always the first one we cut and use in pumpkin pie. I made one for Scottish friends David and Evelyn from Geneva last weekend, and promised that rather than just sharing the instructions/recipe, I would post them here.
My recipe is an adaptation of my old recipes from the US, for Thanksgiving, but with Swiss ingredients and fresh pumpkin, something I never had access to when I lived in the States.
One small or half of a medium-sized pumpkin like those in the photo is needed for a pie. I use a cleaver to cut them into quarters and cook them in the pressure cooker, usually a couple hours before I need them. If you’re buying at the supermarket, you”ll need a couple good slices. Better: buy whole or slice pumpkin from a farmers market.
One of the secrets of a great pie is a perfect crust, which takes practice. This is why I try to bake pies regularly, to stay in practice. And because they are so delicious!
Pumpkin pie, using fresh or stored pumpkin
1 cup white flour (farine fleur)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening with some butter, Astra 10 is good as it is 10% butter
(note: this hardens in the refrigerator, where it should be stored once opened, so take it out 15 minutes before you need it. The Migros equivalent stays soft)
4-6 tablespoons cold water
If you’re already a dough pro, just read the words in bold. If you’re a novice, the details should help.
Stir salt into flour. Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in the shortening until half the dough is the size of peas and the rest is larger balls.
Using a fork to toss the dough from underneath, sprinkle the water one tablespoon at a time to dampen the dough. It should be sticky enough to hold together without crumbling, but if you add too much water it becomes gooey.
Using your hands, form into a ball.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour on the working surface, flatten the ball using the palm of your hands, not your fingers, until it is 1/2 inch or a couple centimetres thick. Roll out with a rolling pin, from the center, until the dough is about an inch or 2-3 cm larger than your pie pan. I run a large plastic spatula under the dough once or twice while rolling it out, to make sure it’s not sticking to the surface. Sprinkle flour on the work surface as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
Pick up the dough by draping half of it over the rolling pin, which makes it easier to transfer into the pie pan: place the rolling pin over the middle of the pan and your dough will be in the right place.
Mix, in order given:
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 110 grams sugar, preferably light brown sugar but Muscado from Swiss supermarkets works
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger, or very finely slivered fresh ginger
- 340 grams freshly cooked pumpkin: 20 minutes in a pressure cooker or 30 minutes boiled in small amount of water
- 1-2/3 cups condensed milk: 2 tubes, available in Swiss supermarkets
Pour into pastry shell. Bake 15 minutes at 210C/425F. Reduce heat to 190C/350F and bake 25-30 minutes more. If the top or crust brown too quickly, lay a sheet of cooking foil loosely over the top.
Check for doneness by inserting a sharp knife into the center. It should come out clean.
Cool on a rack. Best served cold, accompanied by a light drizzle of cream or a spoonful of good quality plain yogurt.