Pumpkin and Orange Tart (serves 8) © Kevin Ashton 2008
Around this time of the year pumpkin pie often features on American dessert menus. But I always felt disappointed with the flavour and texture of this very traditionally dish, perhaps because it was often made with tinned pumpkin. So a couple of years ago I decided to make a pumpkin pie but start with fresh pumpkin and see if I could improve the dish. Using fresh pumpkin does take a little more time but this recipe is certainly not complicated but the result is a revelation.
200g (8oz) plain flour
100g (4oz) butter
50g (2oz) caster sugar
1kg (2.2lb) peeled pumpkin
3 large oranges
1/2 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
75g (2oz) caster sugar
150ml (1/4 pint) water
3 whole eggs
100g (4oz) flaked almonds
1. Preheat your oven to 180°C / gas mark 4, rub on a little rapeseed oil if you wish and roast the pumpkin until it is tender (about 45 minutes) turning from time to time.
2. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor until smooth, then allow to drain in a fine sieve to remove much of the water that is
3. Zest the 3 oranges (using a zester not grating) and then blanch the zest in boiling water for 2 minutes. Cool, drain and reserve the zest.
4. Now juice the oranges, removing any pips and combine with the water and caster sugar. Add the reserved zest to the orange juice mix and simmer until you have a syrup consistency and allow to cool. As it cools carefully fish out the candied orange zest and reserved for decoration.
5. Make the sweet pastry by rubbing the flour with the butter, then separately whisk the egg with caster sugar well. Gently combine to bring the pastry together and rest the pastry for 30 minutes. Roll out the pastry thinly and line a lightly buttered 10 inch (25cm) flan case.
6. Make a parchment paper circle, line the pastry and then weight it down with raw rice and blind bake for 12-15 minutes at 180C. Remove the rice and parchment and bake for 4 more minutes then remove from the oven.
7. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks for 4 minutes then add the syrup and nutmeg and cinnamon.
Gradually fold in the pumpkin puree then pour the mixture into your pastry case.
8. Bake in the middle of the oven at 180c for 35-45 minutes or until set.
9. Toast the almonds lightly then scatter on the warm tart.
To Serve: Serve slightly warm with cold creme fraiche and sprinkle each portion with the candied orange zest.
Chef's Presentation Tip
Great home cooks and even chefs often make the mistake of serving dessert on dessert plates which are often too small. Even if you don't own any large dessert plates wash and then reuse your dinner plates. These days most restaurants chose plain white, or glass or a plain colour for their plates so your eyes are drawn to the food not the busy pattern on the plate.
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