Don’t waste your pumpkin! – Jo Pratt recipe for pecan pumpkin pie

Images above: Jo Pratt’s latest book The Flexible Baker; her recipe for pecan pumpkin pie

An autumnal dessert from Jo Pratt’s latest book – The Flexible Baker

I dread to think how many tons of pumpkin is wasted every year at Halloween. It is quite a thankless task hollowing out the stringy innards and the big ones farmed specially for carving do not make very good eating, but if you buy one that is labelled for eating, the sweet flesh makes great soup and also a lovely autumnal dessert.

Jo Pratt has recently published the fourth in her ‘flexible’ cookbook series, The Flexible Baker. In it she offers her recipe for pecan pumpkin pie.

“I haven’t come across the two together” she tells The Chiswick Calendar. “I’ve had pecan pie and I’ve had pumpkin pie and I thought I would try mixing the two. It was quite challenging getting the right amount of sweet and savoury.

“The family had to eat five pies before I got the recipe right, and as I wrote this during lockdown I kept leaving parcels on neighbours’ doorsteps to get them to try it as well.”

Image: Jo Pratt

“It shouldn’t be that if you are vegetarian you have to eat something different”

Jo is a chef who lives in Acton and has been involved in various foodie initiatives locally, including the Cookbook Festival and organising supper clubs in Chiswick.  She has worked with big name chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay, and John Torode on TV and earlier this year hosted food demonstrations at Pub in the Park in the gardens of Chiswick House, which she will be doing again next year.

Her flexible series – The Flexible Vegetarian, The Flexible Pescatarian, The Flexible Family Cookbook, and now The Flexible Baker are designed to be adaptable for a family or group of people who have different dietary requirements.

“It shouldn’t be the case these days that if you are vegetarian you have to eat something different” she says.

“This is designed for people who like to do a bit of baking but find they come up against a brick wall when they have someone coming round who can’t eat eggs or is gluten intolerant.”

The 75 baking recipes offer adaptable options for gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and vegan baking, ranging across savoury and bread baking, cakes and traybakes, biscuits, cookies, pastries, puddings and desserts. Each recipe has little icons on the page and there is a dietary index at the back of the book so you can see at a glance what is suitable to bake for whom.

Pecan pumpkin pie is not suitable if you have a nut allergy of course, but is good for vegans and those who are gluten intolerant as it is egg-free and wheat-free.

Images above: Jo’s Pecan pumpkin pie; Jo baking

Pecan pumpkin pie recipe

Jo’s introduction

Pecan pie and pumpkin pie are both well-loved, classic recipes, though traditionally neither are suitable for vegan or gluten-free diets, so I have come up with one pie to suit all. My husband Phil wasn’t convinced about this working when I explained my idea. He had a slice … and very quickly went back for more, so in my book, that’s a winner.

The pastry is made using pecan nuts and has a toffee sweetness from the addition of dates. To top it off there are maple-coated pecan nuts for the crunch.

Ingredients

For the pastry

175g/6oz/1 3/4 cups pecan nuts
35g/1 1/4oz porridge (oatmeal) oats (gluten-free)
100g/3 1/2oz/ 3/4 cup pitted dates
70g/2 1/2oz coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

For the filling

425g/15oz pumpkin purée – fresh *
(or you can buy tinned pumpkin puree so you can make this at any time of year)
200ml/7fl oz/generous 3/4 cup almond milk
40g/1 1/2oz/ 1/2 cup cornflour (corn starch)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
3 tbsp maple syrup
100g/3 1/2 oz / 1/2 cup dark brown muscovado sugar

* Jo says pumpkin puree is very straightforward to make. You will need a cooking pumpkin (not one that is being sold for carving), around 20cm / 8 inches in diameter. This is her recommended method (though if you are using the pumpkin for decoration you will have to find another way of scraping out the flesh!)

Cut in half and scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts from the inside. Place cut side down on a parchment lined baking tray. Bake at 200 degrees C / 180 degrees C fan / 400 degrees F / gas 6 for around 40 – 50 minutes until the flesh is really tender when you insert a sharp knife, and it starts to come away from the skin.

Once it’s cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin into a blender and blitz until really smooth (you may need to do this in batches). Cool completely before using or storing in the fridge for up to one week.

For the topping

4 tbsp maple syrup
100g/3 1/2oz/1 cup pecan nuts

Prep

25 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling

Cooking 

65 minutes

Serves 

8-10

To make the pastry, put the pecans and oats in a food processor and blitz to a fine crumb. Add the dates, coconut oil, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Blitz really well until you have a think doughy consistency.

Press the dough into a loose-bottomed 25cm/10 inch tart tin, pushing into the edges and up the sides to evenly line the inside of the tin. Place in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C / 160 degrees C fan/350 degrees F/gas 4.

Line the pastry case with a piece of baking parchment, making sure the edges of the pastry are loosely covered. Cover the base with baking beans or rice and put in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and baking beans.

Return the pastry case to the oven and cook for a further five minutes until the pastry case is firm and lightly golden.

For the filling, place all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together until smooth. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pastry case and spread into an even layer. Bake for 35 minutes until the filling is starting to set.

For the topping, mix together the pecans and maple syrup, until the nuts are coated. Arrange on top of the pie and return to the oven for a further ten minutes until golden.

Cool the pie completely in the tin, for a couple of hours at room temperature, before turning out and cutting into wedges to serve.

You can buy The Flexible Baker from all good bookshops and online from Amazon here: The Flexible Baker

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: School’s Out – book review

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