Pumpkin Pie Trial

I’m a bit frazzled preparing for the coming weekend, but here is another experiment: The pumpkin pie recipe from Johannes Coler.

Pumpkin tart (Kuchen)

You cook the flesh of the pumpkin in water and then pass it through (a cloth or sieve) like boiled peas. Pour in milk and stir in a few egg yolks along with it, also add a little butter, and season it with pepper or cloves, otherwise it chills too much.

Book III, page 84 (233 in pdf)

I was trying out a few pie recipes last weekend and since my mother kindly supplied a pumpkin from her garden, I decided this would be one of them. I started out shelling and boiling the pumpkin, then drained it to the best of my abilities and passed it through the medium disc of my foodmill. The result was quite watery, but I decided to give it a try anyway, mixing about 1 1/2 cups of it with four egg yolks, a dab of melted butter and a small amount of milk. My choice of seasoning was pepper and the unmentioned, but likely implied salt. It went into a pie shell made of leftover hot water paste according to a sixteenth-century recipe and into a moderate oven.

It worked surprisingly well, though the filling took a long time to set. That would likely have worked better if I has used a flatter dish. The pie cut easily and held together well enough to be sliced into bite-sized pieces. The flavour took getting used to, but once you get over the ingrained idea that a pumpkin pie needs to be sweet, it is actually quite good with salt and pepper. A little mace would have worked well with it. Still, I ate much of it with chutney or other relishes. It is rather bland on its own.

For future note: I think the recipe will be improved by baking in a flatter dish, and the pumpkin flesh should be drained very thoroughly before it is mashed. The less water it brings in, the more can the milk and butter carry its flavour. Finally, though Coler is clear on using a single spice, a mixture of sharp spices is likely to work much better.

I might also use sugar instead of salt, but that is surely a bridge too far.

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