My first and only experience of pumpkin pie up until now was at my best friends house around the age of 13. With an american father, Thanksgiving is a big deal in their house, but I’d never really celebrated it before. At an awkward age of growth spurts and secondary school I almost didn’t even try the pie and tried to turn down the offer politely. It didn’t look especially appealing and i’d never tried it before, so naturally assumed it couldn’t be that special. Thankfully, her mother persuaded me and just one mouthful of that warm, homemade pie has remained a vivid memory in my mind ever since. I think a section of my brain is dedicated entirely to food, and times or occasions associated with certain foods. Sometimes i can even remember a conversation or event simply because i remember the food we were eating, or the restaurant we were in at the time. I can still see that pumpkin pie, fresh out of the oven, sitting on the countertop and can still smell the warmth of its spices. The sheer brilliance of pumpkin pie makes me wonder why it has taken me this long to attempt it myself. It is brilliant enough made with cheap pre-made pastry or shop-bought in festive packaging, but is even more brilliant if you make it by hand, with fresh pastry, and make it without any unnatural ingredients. So if you like that cream, the sugar and the buttery base, look away. You’re not going to like this version. Well, you’re not going to like the sound of this version, but if you do decide to trust me, you’ll realise it tastes just the same, if not better, than what you’re used to.
Before changing my diet i enjoyed baking brownies and rice crispy cakes on a regular basis - in fact, so often that i knew the recipes backwards, upside down and read with my eyes shut. I’d mastered two very amazing recipes, and they were easy, so making a pie seemed like an impossible task - some kind of art form i was certainly incapable of and which was definitely out of my league. But since i now use vegetables in baking and know how to make pastry with nuts and without gluten, I felt it was about time i revisited that moment in my best friends kitchen, embraced this seasons most delicious ingredients and made that classic holiday favourite, with a lot of things taken out, but with a whole lot of other good things added.
It’s hard for me to remember exactly how mama coleman’s pie tasted, but to me this one is all that a pumpkin pie should be. The base is different, as it is not real pastry. It is made without butter and with no flour - just nutritious nuts and nourishing coconut oil. Where most pies (especially shop bought pies) taste smooth and artificial, the base of this pie is crunchy, nutty and flavoursome. The filling is amazing, especially for people who are intolerant to gluten or just generally don’t desire the feeling of fullness that comes as a side effect of eating cakes. The filling is so smooth and light and, made with coconut oil and coconut milk, is a kind of creaminess you just can’t find in normal, artificial desserts. If theres one thing you make this winter, let this be it. Far better than chocolate, far better than mince pies and far better than the pumpkin pie you had last year. With this recipe, you can have your cake/pie/cheesecake/vegetables and eat them, all at once. Blissfully unaware that you are eating your way through the holidays to a healthier New Year, thanks to all the vitamins and minerals in pumpkin which will keep your immune system in check this winter. Eat up, it’s basically medicine. You neeeeeed it.
1 Cup Walnuts
1/2 Cup Pecans
1 Cup Buckwheat Flour
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil, room temperature
1/3 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoon Agave or Date Syrup
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Cups Pumpkin, chopped (squash will work too) (if you haven’t the time or patience, buy some organic pumpkin puree from a local health food shop)
2 Tablespoons Agave or Date Syrup
1 Tablespoon Coconut Palm Sugar
1/3 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Tin Coconut Milk (the solid part only)
4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
2 Teaspoons Maca, optional
1 Teaspoon Lucuma, optional
Heat the oven to 200c.
Start by roasting the pumpkin for the filling. Remove the skin and place in a roasting dish with a little splash of olive oil or some coconut oil, and roast for 25-35 minutes. It needs to be as soft as possible.
Once the pumpkin is cooked, reduce the oven temperature to 160c.
Blend the nuts in a food processor or blender until they become a fine flour consistency. Pour into a medium bowl and add the flour, salt, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix together with a wooden spoon, then add the coconut oil, combining with your hands. The mixture should begin to form a dough. Make the dough into a ball and it should hold its shape. Take a round baking tray or cake tin, roughly 20cm in diameter (you can also use a rectangle dish if you don’t have a round one) and grease the bottom and the sides with a light coating of coconut oil. Press the dough into tin, making the base no more than 1cm thick, and making sure to press the dough around the sides too. Use a fork to pierce the dough in the middle, and bake for 15 minutes, until it begins to brown, and until it is dry to touch.
Whilst it bakes, make the filling.
+ TIP: Pumpkins with paler skins generally taste nicer and have a smoother less stringy texture when cooked. Look for crown princes or any with a greyish/blueish skin.
Take the cooked pumpkin and place it in your blender or food processor along with the rest of the filling ingredients. I strongly advise using the egg and also maca if you have it, as the egg provides a vanilla-y flavour and a smooth texture and the maca adds an incredible malty caramel flavour. Blend all of the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth. Add a little more coconut milk or oil if the mixture needs help getting smooth.
When the base is cooked, leave to cool for 5-10 minutes and then pour the filling mixture into it. Spread the filling evenly across the pie base, ensuring it reaches the sides too. Return to the oven and cook for 40 minutes, until the middle of the filling is firm to touch. If it is still quite wet or gooey to touch, leave it to cook for a little longer until you can be sure it is cooked through. The top should begin to brown and crack a little, and you should be able to stick a knife in the centre and bring it out clean.
Let cool for at least 20 minutes. I prefer it from the fridge as the filling becomes a wonderful consistency, but it is also delicious enjoyed warm. Serve with coconut yoghurt or coconut cream, fresh berries or a warm berry compote.
+ Save the Seeds
Pumpkin seeds also carry a lot of nutrients, so don’t throw them away. They are high in protein and fibre and also contain tryptophan which is a chemical compound that triggers happiness and positivity and reduces stress. Pumpkin seeds also contain anti-inflammatory properties and essential vitamins and minerals. Toss them in coconut oil or olive oil and your choice of natural sweetener and spices, or use nutritional yeast, tamari and dried herbs and spices to make a quick a savoury snack.
BLEND AND PRESS POP UP
I am excited to announce that next weekend i will be popping up and taking over Blend and Press in Neals Yard. I will be running an exclusive Model Mange Tout brunch menu, and i will be there from 10.30-1.30pm. Pop in and say hi, and choose from my nutritious gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar free menu. I will be serving Cacao Chia Porridge with Almond Sauce and berries, Sweet Potato Cashew Pudding with Christmas Qnola, Cranberry and Rosemary Compote and Toasted Chestnuts, and Buckwheat Pancakes with Coconut Cream, Tahini and Cacao Sauce.
Prices start from £4.95. Hope to see you there! Come in, keep warm and wake up well!