Seasonal produce - pumpkins and pumpkin pie

With Halloween and Thanksgiving upon us, now is a great time to get creative with pumpkins.  These huge striking orange fruit look almost surreal growing on the earth connected by their stems, which begin to crack as the pumpkins ripen.  They need a sheltered sunny spot to grow well and to be placed on a brick or straw as they begin to develop.

Pumpkins are lovely roasted, thrown into salads with feta and pomegranate seeds or blended in soups flavoured with chilli and coconut milk.  When it comes to desserts, you can’t get more indulgent than spicy pumpkin pie, the perfect warming autumn comfort food.

To make the pastry, sift 200g of plain flour into a bowl and rub in 90g of butter plus a pinch of salt with your fingers to make fine crumbs.  Add 2 tsp of cold water and knead into a dough then wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam 600g of diced pumpkin, ( butternut squash works well too) for 15 minutes until tender.  Drain, transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Put the pumpkin in a mixing bowl and use an electric or  hand whisk to beat in 100g brown sugar, 2 eggs, 150g single cream and your choice of spices, including 1 tsp ground cinnamon and ½ tsp ground ginger.  You could add a few tbsp of cognac for an extra kick!

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a flan dish.  Blind bake for around 20 minutes, until firm to the touch.  Pour in the pumpkin mixture and bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees for 45 minutes until set.  Serve with a dollop of cream.  Yum!  Or clotted cream – very yum!