“Please can we make pumpkin pie, Mummy? Pretty please?”
“But EldestGirl,” I say, trying to remember that saying “yes” is positive, “I’m not sure you like pumpkins. You refuse to eat anything that looks like it’s been near a butternut squash, and that’s what we make pumpkin pie out of.”
“I love it, Mummy, I do!” promised EldestGirl faithfully.
I tried to take the easy option, readers, truly I did. I scoured all the supermarkets (well, two of them) for ready-made pumpkin purée, and failed to find it. My fallback was the BBC GoodFood website.
Luckily, I already had two egg yolks in the freezer from previous meringue experience, so the sweetcrust pastry was fairly disaster-free. EldestGirl enjoyed rubbing the butter in with her fingers (I usually give this job to the stand mixer because I loathe the feeling of butter and flour on my fingers, but that might be just me.). The pastry went back in the fridge.
A couple of days later it was time to make the pie. Peeling and chopping up a butternut squash is no mean feat, so I did this myself, calling EldestGirl when it was time for her to come and help. Turns out she was watching Stuart Little 2 so I could do it by myself for now.
Fuck me, readers, pumpkin pie is a fiddly bastard. Boil the squash/pumpkin until tender. Fine. To me, tender means soft-ish but not mushy. Fine. Now push the pumpkin through a sieve. What? Tender pumpkin does not go happily through a sieve. After fifteen minutes of really hurty arm, I gave up and used my stick blender. It still wasn’t easy to get it through the bastarding sieve.
Meanwhile Stuart Little 2 giggled from the living room.
The pastry, meanwhile, despite having been out of the fridge for a good hour, showed no signs of becoming warm enough to work with. I gave up, and put it in the microwave for a few seconds – at which point it immediately fell apart and I had to put it back in the fridge. Eventually I gave up, and instead of rolling it out, I basically play-doughed it to the bottom of the pie dish (OK, cake tin, but who’s watching?), squidging it into the sides to make it look like I rolled it out.
Then back into the fridge it went for another 20 minutes.
Then blind baking. Great. Interlude here whilst I spent a good half an hour searching the garage for the baking beans I haven’t seen since we moved house well over a year ago. Eventually I gave up and used rice instead, but did find some BBQ skewers that would have been really useful over the summer.
Then the pastry went back in the oven for a bit longer. Then it had to come out of the oven and cool for a bit.
Then I had to add some shit to the pumpkin mush (can you see why I don’t write recipe books), bung it into the pastry shell, and put it on a high temperature for a bit. Then for longer on a lower temperature.
By the time I got the pie into the oven, Stuart Little 2 had finally finished (I hope he got eaten by the cat), and EldestGirl was keen to join in. A tantrum almost ensued when she realised that a) not only had she missed out on the baking but b) the whole fucking performance had taken so long that she would be in bed before it came out of the oven. The tantrum was only averted by promising (rashly) that she could have pumpkin pie for breakfast.
This morning the pumpkin pie was debuted. After liberally dusting with cinnamon and icing sugar (and swearing as I dropped half a pot of cinnamon on a hungry cat who was reminding me of his existence by weaving in and out of my legs), the pumpkin pie was finally served.
“I don’t like it, Mummy,” said EldestGirl.
TheBloke(TM) doesn’t like it either. I’m ambivalent myself. It’s not a very healthy thing to feed to YoungestGirl, what with it being full of sugar and everything, but someone’s going to bastarding well eat it.