‘Pumpkins and squash can withstand our harsh summer heat and Halloween is a good reason to celebrate our autumn harvest.
Surprisingly there are still a few in Catholic Malta who are reluctant to acknowledge the feast of Halloween, for the obvious reasons that it is associated with being anti-Christian or perhaps seen as another over-commercialised celebration that is not part of our heritage. But carving lanterns with the kids is something I look forward to every year.
The varieties cultivated locally are endless and it is an ingredient I like to use all year round because it is so versatile and can be incorporated in soups, stews, salads and desserts. Pumpkin adds a great consistency to cakes and baked goods. They are also so visually attractive and decorate a kitchen beautifully.
Depending on which type of pumpkin you are using, the skin can be tough but there are varieties with skin that is edible and soft when it is cooked, such as the butternut or onion squash. Once Halloween is over, the price drops and because of the abundance, it is best to look for other ways to use it more.
If you wish to store pumpkins or squash, try to buy them with the stem on as they will last longer.
My crust-free pumpkin pie makes a great dessert. I used buckwheat flour to cater for gluten free diets and a combination of linseed, Bird’s custard powder and egg replacer to make it vegan and reduce the cholesterol content.
Here is the recipe I made on tv this week but I have baked it a few times before using regular flour and eggs. You will find the substitutes in brackets near the ingredients.’
For my crust-free pumpkin pie you will need:
2 cups undiluted pumpkin puree [as a rough guide 500g peeled pumpkin makes around 1 cup]
1 cup buckwheat flour [you may also use plain regular flour]
2 tablespoons Bird’s Custard powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
a pinch of salt
1 cup agave [OR maple syrup OR stevia]
1/8 teaspoon zest of a fresh orange [lime also goes very well]
1/8 teaspoon of grated fresh turmeric root
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons hazelnut milk [OR cashew milk OR almond milk OR a plant-based milk of your choice; you can also use regular cow’s milk]
1 tablespoon gluten free, lactose free spread [OR 1 tablespoons olive oil]
3 teaspoons Orgran Egg replacer [OR 2 extra tablespoons linseed ground with 6 tablespoons water] [you can use 2 eggs if you do not wish to use an egg replacer]
Pie dish of 21cm
Cooking spray, I used avocado oil
1 tablespoon warm maple syrup to brush the top
Chopped pistachios for the top
You will also need a hand held blender
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Prepare the pie dish by covering the bottom with baking paper.
Spray it with non-stick avocado oil cooking spray.
Sieve twice the buckwheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder, custard powder into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl place the pumpkin puree, fresh grated ginger, fresh grated turmeric root, vanilla extract, hazelnut milk, orange zest and agave. Use a hand held blender to make a very smooth puree.
Prepare the egg replacer by mixing 3 teaspoons Orgran Egg replacer with 3 tablespoons water OR
Prepare the linseed egg replacer by mixing 2 tablespoons linseed with 6 tablespoons water.
Add the egg replacer of your choice to the pumpkin puree bowl and mix in.
[If you do not wish to use an egg replacer you can use 2 eggs in place of the linseed or Orgran powder]
Use a large metal spoon to fold in the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pie dish. Smooth the top with the metal spoon dipped into cold water.
Bake for 45 minutes. After 35 minutes take out of the oven, brush with warm maple syrup and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Allow to cool down in the pie dish for a few hours before transferring it to a serving dish. This makes a great ‘slice’ accompanied with a cup of tea or quick and convenient dessert which can be served with cream or ice cream. It does not freeze well but can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You may wish to try making this traditional Maltese savoury Pumpkin Pie
Photography by CJ Baldacchino