It is widely believed the pumpkin first originated in North America (Northeastern Mexico) and served as an important food staple for the Native Americans. An excellent source of potassium, Vitamin A and Beta-carotene, pumpkins are surprisingly low in energy density... probably because they are over 90% water. I know, what?! One of the oldest domesticated plants, pumpkins were used as early as 7,000 to 5,500 BC. Today, there are over 45 different varieties that are grown food as well as aesthetic and recreational purposes: pumpkin carving is an American tradition that, interestingly, was introduced to the States by the Irish - who would have thought?!
A very versatile autumn vegetable (technically a fruit, but let's keep it simple!) made even better when it transforms into a delicious desert. If you lived in Canada or the US this would be served for Thanksgiving and Christmas... here in NZ we just need it to pick us up and bring some cheer during our cold winter months.
When the Americas were colonised by the British (way before our time, back in the 1620's), they adopted pumpkin into their pie-making culture - usually incorporating things like apple, spiced rosemary and a touch of thyme. Nowadays, Americans make their pie from canned pumpkin... well, here's a throwback to truly traditional times and pumpkin with the skin on!
1 kg pumpkin, skin-on, halved and seeds removed.
250gms sour cream
½ cup soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamon
zest of one orange
250 g gingernut biscuits, finely crumbed
140 g melted butter
250gm creme fraiche
250 gm cream cheese
1 tsp honey
½ tsp cinnamon
The How To:
Preheat oven to 180c fan bake. Grease and line a 25cm pie dish. Arrange pumpkin halves, cut side down, on a lined baking tray and bake until easily pierced with a fork (about 40mins).
Once cooked, scrape out flesh into a bowl or food processor, discard the skin. Puree the pumpkin– this should make about 3 cups.
To make the crust, combine biscuit crumbs with ginger. Mix in the melted butter until evenly combined Press the crumbs evenly over the base of a prepared tin and 4cm up the side. Chill until needed. Increase oven temperature to 200c.
Add sour cream, brown sugar, golden syrup, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, orange zest and salt to the pumpkin puree and blend until smooth. Bake until filling is set (35 -40 minutes) While pie is baking, make the Cream Fraiche topping by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Allow the pie to cool before serving at room temperature, with a nice big dollop of cream on the side.