I have been meaning to write this post for over a month now. No matter; somethings are better late than never. I have often wondered, whilst browsing through blogs, what sort of things people actually write about. Somehow, I find myself so overwhelmed by the beauty of the photography, that the message the writer tries to portray gets lost or finds itself less bountiful then the illustrations that extensively express deeper emotions and stories. However, there also some blogs that capture the imagination and taste buds of the reader through such a eloquently manner, that I find myself hynotised by a string of sublimely chosen words.
As I sit here, typing away, I can hear my boyfriend playing a melancholic tune on his guitar, somehow reflecting the descending darkness and solidarity of the wintery evening here in this sleepy little town. The nights have remained cold and the winds eery. Warm glows silently flicker from neighbouring windows, a welcoming reminder of the coming of the yuletide festivities.
The last of the brittle leaves, once shaken from their branches, begin to dance wildly outside my kitchen, the trees burdensomely swaying to the sighs of wintertide.
Although I have lived in the moody, dramatic landscapes of the Peaks for almost several years now, I still find joy in the changing colours of the year. Every season provides a wonderment and alluring beauty that does not cease to capture my imagination. Even now, I count the days till Solstice Night which will mark, not only the gradual return of summer but the onset of mid-winter. I try, as best I can, to eat with the seasons, ensuring the produce is local and organic, where possible. Each month delivers something wholesome and nourishing, and I endeavour to appreciate and experiment with these flavours.
It has been almost six years since I made a pumpkin pie and for a few months now, I have been craving to bake one again. Having already bought a few squashes from local farms for a Friends giving a few weeks ago, and with the approach of the Winter Solstice, it seems rather decorous to experiment with these beauties, especially when it reminds me, perhaps wrongly, of warmer, sunnier days. The thought of elevating spices, earthy tones and the blankety softness of meringue peaks, seduced my inner child; a somewhat hybrid of a summery biscuit based meringue pie and Thanksgiving was in order.
(For a Gluten Free option, substitute the ginger nut biscuits to a ‘free from’ alternative)
Cooking time: 2+ hours
1 medium winter squash
2 tbsp muscodavo sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup water
2 1/3 cups ginger nut biscuits, crushed with a rolling pin
2 tbsp tahini
6 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp caster sugar
1/8 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt
4 tbsp pumpkin puree
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground star anise
Small pinch black pepper
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup muscodava sugar
2 tbsp extra thick cream
1/4 cup full fat milk
6 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar (+6 tsp)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 200c (392f). Cut the squash into slices and mix with the muscodova and maple syrup in a baking tray. Pour the water into the baking tray and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes until soft. Leave to cool.
Turn down heat in oven to 190c (375f). Mix ginger nut, sugar, butter, salt + tahini in a bowl till well mixed (should have the consistency of wet sand). Mould crust in a tin (I used 10 inch ceramic pie dish) and place into fridge till cold.
Remove the outer skins of the squash and place the squash + the pumpkin purée into a blender and blend. Add spices, sugars and dairy and leave to the side. When ready, take out the crust and pour filling into it. Place crust in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and solid. Leave to cool. Turn down heat once again to 180c (356f).
When ready, in a mixer, make the Italian meringue by whisking the egg whites on medium speed with the cream of tartar whilst adding the 6 tsp of sugar intermediately until it reaches soft peaks (2 minutes). The peaks should be able to hold their shape. Place the rest of the sugar into a saucepan with water. Let it come to a boil and let it melt into a syrup (should reach 110c/230f on the sugar thermometer). Pour the syrup slowly into the egg white mix whilst mixer is on high speed until you reach the desired stiffness. Place on the top of the pie filling and place in the oven for 20 mins or until golden. Please keep a close eye on the meringue as it can easily burn.
I am rather partial to this pie warm but cold is equally as delicious. Eat within 3 days.
Thank you for reading.