I love Autumn.
The crunch of fallen leaves, colours of the golden trees, that little nip of frost in the morning air, donning of cosy knits and of course, the return of warming and hearty food.
The oncoming of the Autumnal months brings with it a new array of seasonal produce, one of the most popular being the humble pumpkin. Often bred for it’s decorative use at Hallowe’en, the pumpkin is a versatile vegetable, earning it’s place in stews, soups and bakes, including the iconic pumpkin pie.
An American Thanksgiving tradition, I have given it a healthy upgrade- swapping the shortcrust pastry shell for a wholesome gluten-free base and keeping additional sweetness to a minimum. The flavour of the roasted pecans and maple syrup add a real earthy Autumnal dimension to this dessert, along with the heat and natural sweetness of my favourite spice, cinnamon.
I hope you enjoy making this Thanksgiving treat, and that it finds a place as one of your favourite Autumn recipes from year to year.
What you need:
- 650g butternut squash (the top narrower part), unpeeled
- 60ml maple syrup
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 x 170g tin evaporated milk
- 3 large eggs
- 100g pecans, roasted until golden
- 50g oats
- 50g desiccated coconut (toasted first, optional)
- 50g coconut oil
- Handful each of dried dates (roughly chopped) & sultanas
- Small bowl of orange juice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- Coconut oil, for greasing
- Baking tray
- Food processor
- 20cm cake tin
- Mixing bowl
- Electric hand whisk
What to do:
1. Start by heating the oven to fan 200°C and place the unpeeled squash inside (cut side down on a roasting tray), roasting for about 35 minutes until soft all the way through (test with a knife!).
2. While the squash is roasting, get to work on the base. Start by placing the chopped dates and sultanas in a shallow bowl of orange juice to soften and plump up with flavour. Set aside.
3. Now blitz the roasted pecans (can do alongside the squash for 5 minutes until you can smell them) until a fine crumb in a strong food processor/blender.
3. Add in the oats and blitz, followed by the dates which should now be soaking for 10 minutes along with the other ingredients. The resulting mixture will be sticky and smelling good!
4. Try not to lick your fingers (yet!) as you press this mixture into your greased spring-bottom cake tin (thank you to whoever invented these) to make a flat base.
5. Check on your squash- if you can poke a knife through easily, take it out and allow to cool. It will be too hot to handle at this stage! Once cooled, easily peel the skin off and mash in a bowl. I used a fork but a potato masher will work well.
6. In a mixing bowl, mix the roast squash with the other topping ingredients using an electric hand whisk until smooth.
7. Pour this lovely sweet squash topping over the biscuit base and now place the pie in the oven at fan 160°C for about 1 hour, until firm.
8. Allow the pie to cool in the tin before removing, and decorating with pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup before serving.
Store in the fridge for up to five days (if it will last that long!).