The word pumpkin appears to originate from the Greek word 'pepon', which literally means large melon. This was later changed by the French to 'pompon', which the English later termed 'pumpion'. So I was interested to find out whether Pumpkin pie actually originated in America and also during which period. Apparently early American settlers of the Plimoth Plantation (1620-1692), which was the first permanent European settlement in southern New England, made something similar to pumpkin pies, by using the flesh of the pumpkin and stewing it with milk, honey and spices and then baking it in hot ashes, but it doesn't appear to have had a so called crust. Interestingly enough a recipe for pumpkin pie that included a pastry was found in the famous French chef Francois Pierre la Varenne and author of what's claimed to be one of the most important French cookbooks of the 17th Century, known as the 'The True French Cook'. In 1653 this book was translated to English and published in England as 'The French Cook'. This meant that by 1670 recipes for Pumpkin pie were appearing in English cookbooks, but interestingly they used ingredients such as rosemary, thyme, and raisins combined with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, maybe something I would like to try one day. The idea of rosemary most certainly appeals
So where does the idea of eating it around Thanksgiving in America come from? It is lead to believe that the Native Americans brought pumpkins as gifts to the first settlers and taught them the many uses for pumpkin, and this is apparently is how pumpkin pie developed in America. I would be so interested to hear from the American readers to what you have been told about the history of Pumpkin pie.
Here is my Sweet shortcrust pastry recipe for anyone interested.
250g soft butter (or sunflower spread as in my case)
150g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
5ml vanilla essence
420g flour (Doves gluten free in my case)
10ml baking powder
If you are doing it gluten free then add Xanthan Gum to the dry ingredients before you sift it. They say you should add two teaspoons to every 100g of flour. I didn't add 8 teaspoons, but around 6.
Mix the butter and sugar in a blender until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time whilst your mixer is mixing. Add the vanilla essence.
Sift all the dry ingredients and slowly add to the mixture to get a soft dough. Roll it into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and then refrigerate for 15 minutes, or you can do it the night before like I did.
This week I also made some sweet little fabric pumpkins using this fab tutorial, inspired by the lovely Heather.