Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
Published on October 29th, 2011
by Clarabella

Halloween Pumpkin Pie

I’m not sure about halloween. I did not grow up with it as a tradition as South Africa, with all houses behind big walls with electric fencing and guarded by at least 3 Rottweilers, is not conducive to trick-or-treating. Now I’m in the UK, all around me is orange, black and purple, and I guess I will have to stock up on sweeties on the weekend in case any little dressed up kiddies knock on the door hoping for a treat.

(tip: sprinkle leftover pastry with cinnamon sugar and cut into strips and bake with the pastry shell for a yummy snack) 

The pumpkin-ness of this time of the year also seems to have snuck across the pond, in the form of the Pumpkin Pie. The coffee shop that I supply cakes to has asked for a couple of pumpkin pies in the last couple of weeks and this weeks pies they requested to be decorated in a halloween theme. Cool 🙂 I like decorating, but me and the pumpkin pie have had a turbulent relationship in the last couple of weeks. The first one went well. The second one, not being made in my lovely pie dish but rather with a bottomless tart ring, went wrong, twice. The first time, when I picked the tart up after poured the filling into the pastry, the pastry sprung a leak and the filling was all on the floor in a matter of seconds. The second attempt saw the pie make it into the oven safely, but after 10 minutes or so of baking, it sprung a leak and it was the bottom of my oven that ended up with a pumpkiney coating. It was a long day.


Yesterday, I used a large quiche tin borrowed from a friend. The pastry was ok, apart from one big bubble. The filling went in without leaking. It baked without leaking, and its still in one piece. Awesome. I have just adorned it with little sugarpaste pumpkin jack ‘o lanterns. It looks cute, and tasty, and I hope they like it. Little do they know how long it takes to cut up a pumpkin, bake a pumpkin, scoop the flesh out of a pumpkin, and blend it all silky and smooth. Its ok. As long as they like it.


As far as my running note for the day goes, I had a good one yesterday. Up at Alderley Edge. It was cloudy and blustery. The ferocious wind seemed intent on battering me with the leaves that could hold on to their branches no longer, and deafening me with its constant howling. I wear a hat most of the time when I run. When its hot and sunny, it keeps the sun off my face, when its raining, it keeps me dry. When its blowing a gale, like yesterday, it keeps my hair all together and protects my face from the barrage of debris falling from the sky. Granted, it should not help if a whole tree blew down on top if me, but its something for the small stuff.

The wind seemed to have kept the casual walkers and even most of the dog walkers in. The trail was quiet, and apart from one dog walker at the end, it was just me, alone on the carpet of leaves that seemed like it had been laid just for me. At one point I was in the woods but on the border of the farmland, and I came across a few pheasants. The first thing that comes to mind when I see pheasants, is a book from my childhood. Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World. I wondered what farmer’s land these pheasants had escaped from, hoping to survive the season when most of their number will end up on someone’s dinner table. They are such pretty birds, and they make me smile, imagining Charlie and his dad bundling hundreds of sleeping birds into sacks in the dead of night. And then they started to come around the next morning. Haha, you have to have read the book to understand. Its a lovely story. My run ended at twilight. That funny time when the light starts to fade but it isn’t dark yet. Its funny how your depth perception vanished in that kind of light. You can no longer discern distances and the the inky colours on the path blur into each other like an oil painting which has run. Breathless, awesome.


Pumpin Pie WITHOUT tinned pupkin

Serves 16

What you will need:

  • For the filling:
  • 500g (1 1/4 lb) mashed, cooked pumpkin
  • 1 (410g) tin evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 175g (6 oz) dark brown soft sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the pastry:
  • 350g (12 oz) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 200g (7 oz) butter
  • 125ml (4 fl oz) cold water

What to do:

Preheat oven to 200 C
Halve pumpkin and scoop out seeds and stringy portions. Cut pumpkin into chunks. Roast the pumpkin for 40 minutes or until soft. Scoop the flesh out of the skin with a spoon or ice cream soup.
Puree the cooked pumpkin in a food processor, or mash with a potato masher. Drain well, and measure 500g of the mashed pumpkin; reserve any excess pumpkin for another use. (like pumpkin cupcakes, they are AWESOME!)
Prepare pastry by mixing together the flour and salt. Rub butter into flour, and add 1 tablespoon cold water to mixture at a time. Mix and repeat until pastry is moist enough to hold together.
With lightly floured hands, shape pastry into a ball. On a lightly floured board, roll pastry out to barely a .25cm thickness. Transfer to a 20 or 23cm pie dish, gently pressing pastry into the bottom. Cut off any excess pastry hanging over the sides of the dish, and pinch pastry securely around the inner edge. Blind bake, with greaseproof paper and baking beans, for 15 minutes, then for an additional 5-10 minutes with the baking beans and greaseproof paper removed, until lightly browned.
In a large bowl with mixer speed on medium, beat pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Pour into a prepared pie dish. Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.