Pumpkin Pie With A Pecan Crust
It’s that silly time of the year again when I start going a bit nuts for all things pumpkin, which we all know tastes of virtually nothing until we add those lovely spices and a pint of syrup – and we’ll overlook the fact that those famous tins of “pumpkin” puree are actually butternut squash. It just wouldn’t be Hallowe’en without a spot of pumpkin carving and of course an orange-hued, possibly-pumpkin themed bake!
I’ve got a sort of love/hate thing going on with pumpkin pie. I love me some sweet, all-American pie. Key lime, chocolate, pecan…. I will fight you for the last slice of pie. But until I recently came up with this version, pumpkin pie was one that I remained undecided about – even after churning them out at my husband’s request for well over a decade. I posted his previous favourite pumpkin pie here on this blog a few years ago and I’ve spent the last couple of autumns trying to veganise it, with varying degrees of success. The texture is all important with pumpkin pie – it has to be firm enough to slice, but it’s also a soft pie with a consistency lying somewhere between a cheesecake and set custard. Tricky to achieve without the evaporated milk and egg – until you stop faffing around trying to create vegan versions of those things and opt instead to simply crack open a carton of good old silken tofu. It’s honestly the most effortless replacement ever, giving the texture you expect from a pumpkin pie.
I wanted to put my own little twist on this recipe so decided on a sweet pecan pastry for the pie crust, and scattered a handful of broken pecans to decorate. For me, the added crunch makes for a much more interesting pie – this is by far my favourite pumpkin pie to date. I also recommend adding a little orange zest to the filling, which really lifts the flavour and smells so good! Honey loves this pie too, both eating and making – she enjoyed helping me roll out the pastry, although she did pause frequently to nibble on the pecans she kept picking out.
Serve chilled, topped with a scoop of vanilla Swedish Glace or a little non-dairy cream if you like. This pie keeps well in the fridge for a few days (in fact it seems to improve over time).
- You will need a 9″ pie/tart tin – I use my usual fluted, loose-bottomed quiche tin.
- Just use shop-bought pastry if you aren’t bothered about a pecan pastry and just want a good vegan pumpkin pie!
For the pecan pie crust:
200g plain flour
50g Trex (Crisco in the US)
50g vegan butter (I like Stork)
45g caster sugar
35ml lemon juice (squeeze bottle is fine)
35ml cold water
For the pumpkin filling + topping:
425g (1 x tin) pure pumpkin puree
250g silken tofu (pour away any excess water)
200g caster sugar
75ml maple syrup
3 level tbsp cornflour (cornstarch in the US)
1 tbsp orange zest (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
For the topping: A couple of handfuls of pecans, roughly chopped – approximately 50g. Add some chocolate chips too, if you’re that way inclined.
To Make The Pecan Pie Crust:
Place the flour, Trex/Crisco, vegan butter and pecans in a processor and blitz until sandy (if you’re using a Vitamix you may need to lift the jug and shake it every couple of seconds). This shouldn’t take more than ten seconds. Add the sugar and briefly pulse. Don’t be tempted to over process at any stage – this will over develop the gluten and you won’t get that melt-in-the-mouth pastry! If making by hand, rub together the fats with the flour until sandy, stir in the sugar and chopped pecans then add the liquid and bring together, continuing as below.
With the motor running on the lowest speed, slowly pour in the lemon juice/water mix until the pastry clumps together. I deliberately use a tiny bit more water here than I normally would, as the pecans will absorb a bit of it. The dough will be soft but not sticky. Scrape down the sides and tip the whole lot on to a clean surface. Lightly bring it together with your hands and pat down into a disc. Don’t knead it! Wrap it in clingfilm or – if you’ve stopped buying clingfilm like me – put the disc of pastry onto a plate, cover with another plate and place in the fridge for a good 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6.
After the pastry has rested, roll it out the enough to allow an overhang of about 1-2 cm over the sides of the tin. Gently line the tart tin, pressing the pastry down gently and paying special attention to the fluted edge and bottom. You can trim the overhanging excess at this stage if you like, but personally I like to leave it in case the pastry shrinks back a little down the sides of the tin during the blind-bake.
Prick all over with a fork (you can also line with paper and baking beads if you prefer, I never bother), place on a large shallow baking tray or sheet and blind bake for 10 minutes – while you get on with the making the pumpkin filling below.
After ten minutes, remove the pie crust from the oven and use a serrated knife to carefully trim off the excess pastry*. Reduce the oven temperature to 180c /350f / gas mark 4 and set the pie crust aside for a moment.
*transfer the off-cuts to a dish and sprinkle with sugar for a tasty snack. What else are you going to do with them?!
To Make The Pumpkin Filling:
Simply place all of the ingredients – the pumpkin, drained tofu, sugar, syrup, cornflour, zest (if using), spices and salt – into a processor and blend until completely silky smooth and creamy.
Pour the pumpkin filling into your pie crust and place in the middle of the oven (180c/350f/gas mark 4) and bake for 40-45 minutes (check after 40). The top of the pie will look puffed up and the centre should be set, maybe with the faintest wobble. It will flatten – and firm up – as it cools. Crush up the pecans and sprinkle around the edges and chill completely before serving – it’s even better the next day.