Well here’s a tongue twister if ever I did see one. Kumquat Curd. Try say that ten times in a row without messing up! Have you ever eaten a kumquat? They have very sweet skins and very sour middles. I love using them for curd rather than lemons because all you need to do is remove the seeds, the rest of the fruit can be blended up and simmered into this perfect preserve. No need for zesting and juicing.
This stunning little curd is delightfully sweet and tangy and so simple to make. The perfect use for this tiny citrus. I love curd on toast as an alternative to jam but it also makes the best filling for a cake or topping for a tart. Curd is great sandwiched between shortbread biscuits or rolled up in pancakes. I think a sunny jar of kumquat curd makes the perfect Mother’s Day gift, especially if accompanied by a stack of pancakes in bed and a vase of daffodils!
I am such a vegetable geek, I always get overexcited when a new vegetable comes into season. So I eagerly wrote a pumpkin custard pie recipe, back in October when pumpkins and squashes were the veg of the moment. But one of the many beauties of these sweet, fleshy gourds is that they keep well for up to 6 months if properly stored, so you can have pumpkin pies up until March if you like, they are not just for Autumn! Pumpkins and winter squashes can be stored in a well-ventilated position at a temperature under 15°C and no colder than 10°C. I suggest finding a chilly part of your home, for example a shady windowsill. Watch for signs of rot, and remove any affected fruit immediately. I think their cheerful, bright colour and sweet, nutty flavour make them a gorgeous addition to your festive table too.
Pumpkin pie is a very American, Thanksgivingy thing and like much of American food culture, it’s seeping over the pond and onto our plates. Pumpkin spice lattes and the like don’t seem to be going anywhere and why would they? The sweet, heady mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves is pretty irresistible. Pecan pies are another classic American dish, traditionally served at the festive table, so I couldn’t resist combining the two here in my layered pumpkin and pecan pie. I think you’ll agree, it’s a great combination.
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Shortcrust pastry is very easy to make if you have a food processor with a blade attachment. (And by the way this recipe makes a brilliant mince pie, apple pie or cherry pie crust too!) Just blend up the flour, butter, salt and sugar until it resembles wet beach sand. Then add a couple of tablespoons of very cold water and briefly blend again and it will magically form into a neat ball of dough!
If you don’t have a food processor you can just use your hands. Use the tips of your fingers to work the butter into the flour, salt and sugar until it reaches wet sand consistency, then add the water and gently bring it together into a ball of dough. The trick to a really short, melt in the mouth shortcrust pastry is not overworking the dough and getting it too warm. Then wrap it with a damp tea towel and let it rest in the fridge while you make the pumpkin custard.
I’ve never bought a tin of pumpkin puree, it seems that’s what most Americans use. Instead I just roast a halved and deseeded pumpkin or squash, cut side down, until it’s soft. Then scoop out the flesh and mash or blend it. I call this pie a ‘custard pie’ because this filling is a riff on my custard recipe. Simply blend all the ingredients until smooth. (And by the way, if you ever want to make regular plant based custard, just replace the pumpkin puree with another mug of oat milk, leave out the spices but keep the vanilla, then whisk and simmer on a low heat until thick and delicious.)
Then roll out the chilled pastry and carefully line a flan dish or a cake tin with it. Prick little holes in the base of the pastry with a fork to prevent a pocket of hot air forming under the crust and making it rise up in the oven. Then pour the custard into the pastry case and bake for about 30 minutes at 175C or until both the pastry and the custard are mostly cooked through. In the meantime, make the pecan pie topping.
Pecan Pie Ingredients
1.5 tbsp cornflour
1.5 tbsp milled linseeds (if you don’t buy them already milled, just blend some whole ones up in a small spice blender or smoothie maker until ground into a course flour consistency)
Mix all the ingredients except the pecan nuts together in a bowl. Then stir through the pecan nuts, ensuring they are all coated in the caramel-like mixture. Then once the pumpkin pie is par cooked enough so that the pumpkin custard is mostly set, carefully spoon the pecans and caramel over the top of the pie.
Return it to the oven to cook for another 10 minutes or until the custard, pastry and pecan pie mixture is all cooked through.
Allow the pie to cool and set before carefully removing it onto a serving plate and slicing it up. Serve it with whipped coconut cream or vanilla ice cream.