Mini Pumpkin Pies

I will stop posting pumpkin recipes after this I promise. I will do my utmost to refrain from all pumpkin related activities until next year. I can't help it, it's such an amazing vegetable (though it has seeds so it's a fruit right?). 

I had to refrain from putting pumpkin pies in any of the pumpkin week recipes because I knew I would be making it for Thanksgiving last week. I made two pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and I used the leftovers to create miniature versions. These are so cute and perfect for any upcoming Christmas or New Year's Parties as they are a great individual dessert. 

This is the best pastry recipe I've ever used. I've spent a long time hunting for the perfect pastry and, of course, different pastries suit different dishes, but this is my favourite sweet pie one. I had no soggy bottoms with this pastry either!

The recipe is from The Smitten Kitchen. It's flaky and buttery and really easy to make. I invested in a pastry blender to make a real effort with the pies, I say invested but it was only £3.96. Sadly it didn't arrive in time but I know I'll get lots of use out of it for pastry, scones and biscuits.  In this instance I used a knife to start with and then dug in with my hands. It's best if your hands are cold, mine are usually quite warm so not the best pastry making tools but a sharp knife is just as good and then you can use your hands at the end. 

I'll be the first to admit that they aren't the prettiest pies but they are rustic and spruce up pretty well with a big dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It's what's on the inside that counts after all. 

We visited the Keele Christmas Market at Keele Hall today and got a little overexcited at the cheese stalls. Walked away with an amazing creamy mini wheel of blue cheese and some wedges of cheddar, mustard and horseradish cheese, goats cheese and sticky toffee pudding cheese (which works way more than you'd expect). We dropped by Trentham Gardens afterwards and had lunch at Pieminister. I love it there, they make the best pies. I had the free ranger and Nick had the Heidi Pie. We only ever seem to go every 6 months but it's a little treat on a Sunday afternoon. I had hoped the Christmas pies would be there but they weren't yet. 

Mini Pumpkin Pies
(Pastry recipe from Smitten Kitchen and filling recipe adapted from Shauna Sever and The Flourishing Foodie)

Yields around 10-12 mini pies in a muffin tray

For the flaky pastry:

160g flour
15 grams sugar
1 teaspoon salt
115g unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
125ml cold water, with a couple of ice cubes dropped inside

For the Filling:
70g ginger nut biscuits, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

75g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
210g pumpkin puree
170ml (1/2 a can) evaporated milk

Whipping cream, to serve

To make the pastry:

  1. Put the cold water and ice cubes to one side. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender or knife, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture so all parts are worked evenly. Stop when all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas..
  2. Start by drizzling 1/2 of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, bring the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 30-60ml of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Bring the clumps of dough together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.
  4. After it has chilled, roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick. Use a 4 inch round cutter and fit each circle into a greased hole in a muffin tray. Decorate the edges how you like or leave plain. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F.
  5. Fill each pie crust with a square of foil or crumpled up baking paper and enough baking beans to weigh down the foil/paper.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the baking beans and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

(Tip from Smitten Kitchen...Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.)

For the filling:

  1. Crush the ginger biscuits and mix with the melted, slightly cooled butter. Sprinkle a thin layer of the biscuit crumbs in the base of each pie crust.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the pumpkin and sugar mixture and whisk.
  3. Slowly add the evaporated milk, and whisk until all the ingredients are combined.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F. Transfer the mix to a jug and pour into each pie shell (just up to the rim, the mix won't expand in the oven).
  5. Cover the pies with foil and bake at 200 C for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 175 C/350 F and bake for 25 minutes. Let the pies cool before serving with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.