Halloween is one of my favourite seasons. I have so many fun memories of it from childhood starting with playing bobbing apples and having a nose filled with water, to having friends over to watch horror films as well as the yearly tradition of watching Hocus Pocus or Practical Magic!
I used to love trick or treating and continued going until I was far too old! One year, my siblings and I went knocking on our neighbours doors and one person asked for a trick instead of a treat and we had nothing for them so the following year we filled a plastic bag with rotten eggs and ketchup and made them put their hand inside. Wild I know.
One of my favourite memories was watching the film Candyman with my friend Christopher when we were about 13 years old and we were sitting in a room where there was a mirror directly to Christopher’s left. In the scene where Candyman comes out from the mirror I remember screaming so much and then laughing hysterically after at how scared we both were.
Like Christmas, Halloween is a time of year that I have always loved and looked forward to. I love the effort people put into dressing up and although sometimes seen as not safe anymore I think trick or treating is such a fun way to engage with your neighbours and have some fun. It’s not all too often we let our hair down and talk to strangers and it’s great to meet other people who get into the spirit of the season.
I have always wanted to spend Halloween abroad, ideally America, however last year I got to experience it in Vancouver and saw how buzzing the streets were with kids trick or treating at all the incredibly decorated houses. There were fireworks on every street I turned and it was an amazing atmosphere.
Another thing I got into last year, especially as it’s a tradition to have for Canadian thanksgiving is Pumpkin Pie. Since watching the film Waitress a few years ago I became a bit obsessed with baking pies but it wasn’t until I was in Canada last year that I tried pumpkin pie and now that I have there is no turning back. The delicious mix of nutmeg, cinnamon & pumpkin creates such a wonderful combination for a sweet dessert with its incredible spice kick. The smell when baking is enough reason to make the pie alone however the end product especially with cream is quite the winner too.
I hadn’t made pastry in a while so decided to make the sweet shortcrust pastry from scratch and found it a lot easier than I thought it would be. It takes less than 15 minutes and you can wrap it up in cling film and leave in the fridge whilst you get on with making the pumpkin pie mixture.
The recipe is quick and easy to make, the hardest part is probably cutting up and de-seeding the pumpkin so if you can buy it already peeled and packaged it will save you some time but it’s not too difficult to scoop it out.
Served with cream, vanilla custard or some ice cream this pumpkin pie is definitely the perfect Halloween treat.
Sweet shortcrust pastry
- 500 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100 g icing sugar, sifted
- 250 g good-quality butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 lemon, zest of
- 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
- 1 splash milk
- Sieve the flour from a height on to a clean work surface and sieve the icing sugar over the top. Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar by rubbing your thumbs against your fingers until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture.
- Add the eggs, lemon zest and milk to the mixture and gently work it together till you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly. Don’t work the pastry too much at this stage or it will become elastic and chewy. Flour your work surface and place the dough on top. Pat it into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
- 750g/1lb 10oz pumpkin peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
- Sweet short crust pastry
- Plain flour, for dusting
- 140g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 eggs beaten
- 25g butter melted
- 175ml milk
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- Place the pumpkin in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain pumpkin; let cool.
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 mins. Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.
- Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Serve chilled.