sweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin piesweet & spicy rustic pumpkin pie

A.K.A. the "SPY-PIE". . . but please let me explain ! I'm sure you're all familiar with the 1977 British fictional Bond movie called "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME", right ? But are you familiar with the 2009 French movie and non-fictional spy story called “FAREWELL” or "THE FAREWELL AFFAIR" based on the true-life events that occurred between Paris and Moscow in the early 80's ? This rustic pie is made with a pumpkin that was grown by the real-life daughter, my friend and former work colleague of the French engineer who was pushed to become a spy for his country. It's a complex spy-thriller account about competing governments, spies, double-agents, secret documents and stolen technologies.

It's not a secret anymore, which is why I know all of this, but it still intrigues me. Today, this ex-spy is 95 years old (we share the same birthday of January 7) and living in the countryside and his daughter/my friend and former work colleague who etired last summer wrote to me on Friday, so I thought it would be funny to post this recipe (that I wrote yesterday but photographed last year) and story this weekend and surprise her !

But no worries my friends, no danger nor excitement nor secrets here. This is just a simple, rustic, sweet & spicy pumpkin pie, inspired by my real-life poached apple pie ‘pucks’ that I started making a few years ago (see the recipe here) but this time, it’s less complicated, less mysterious but still palate-thrilling. It's a PIE. What more do you want ?

This pie is prepared with fresh pumpkin slices that are poached and home-made spice mix. The result is a relatively easy and very hearty dessert for 8-12 guests because it ends up weighing almost 2 kg when baked.

My pumpkin-gift weighed over 6 kg so make some soup with the rest of the pumpkin flesh (see this recipe but replace the squash with pumpkin) and don’t hesitate to try to use up all those pumpkin leftovers like the seeds and filaments like I did last year (see the recipes here). But if you prefer SMALLER things and projects, you can replace the larger pumpkin with other types of orange-colored winter squash.

Anyways, there's no rush. Why not make it for Halloween or Thanksgiving or anytime in the next few months because the smaller pumpkins and winter squash are quite abundant in October and those larger specimens will be around in November and December too.

So, do you think you’ve got any ex-spies in your entourage too ? . . . :)

sweet & spicy rustic pumpkin pie




pie dough :

  • 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 50 grams (¼ cup + 2 tbsp) whole-wheat flour
  • 25 grams (3 tbsp) icing sugar
  • 2.5 grams (½ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 200 grams (¾ cup + 2 tbsp) cold butter
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) apple cider vinegar
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) apple brandy (or use cognac or whisky)
  • 45 grams (3 tbsp) ice water (or use 3 ice cubes)
  • 20 grams (1 large) egg yolk

pie dough coatings :

  • 38 grams (1) beaten egg white with 1 pinch of salt (for brushing)
  • 38 grams (2 tbsp + 1 tbsp) granulated golden cane sugar (for sprinkling)

poached pumpkin :

  • 1.5 kg (8 cups) sliced ​​fresh pumpkin flesh
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 500 ml (2 cups) unsweetened apple juice (you can increase it to 750 ml if needed to cover the pumpkin slices in the pot)
  • 500 grams (2 ½ cups) granulated golden cane sugar
  • 500 grams (2 cups + 2 tbsp) butter
  • 12 grams (4 long) cinnamon sticks
  • 8 grams (3) vanilla pods split in half (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 4 grams (1 tsp or 2 cm) thinly sliced ​​fresh ginger root
  • 3 grams (1 tsp) nutmeg (I use the already grated ends & bits)
  • 2 grams (1 tsp or 16-20) whole cloves
  • 2 grams (1 tsp or 10 peppercorns) whole allspice
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) salt

pie filling :

  • 7 cups (1.25 kg) cooked/poached and strained pumpkin slices
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) granulated golden cane sugar (add up to an extra 50 grams or ¼ cup if you like extra sweet pies)
  • 3 tbsp (30 grams) cornstarch
  • 35 grams (¼ cup) dried cranberries
  • 35 grams (¼ cup) dried raisins
  • 45 grams (¼ cup) dried nuts (roasted & flaked almonds, hazelnuts)
  • 8 grams (1 tbsp) roasted pumpkin seeds
  • optional : for a spicier filling and after tasting the pumpkin slices, feel free to add up to ¾ tsp ground cinnamon powder + ¼ tsp ground ginger powder + 1/8 tsp ground clove powder + 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/8 tsp ground allspice powder to the pre-cooked and strained pumpkin slices


pie dough :

  • measure out the dry ingredients for the pie dough (flour, sugar, salt), place in the bowl of a food processor, blend (pulse) together for 2-3 seconds until well-mixed and chill everything in the refrigerator (the ingredients in the mixing bowl)
  • cut up the butter in small and thin square pieces, place and space them out on a flat dish (or two) and chill in the freezer for 15-30 minutes
  • combine the apple cider vinegar with the brandy and the ice water or ice cubes (wait until the ice cubes melt) and whisk in the egg yolk
  • remove the butter from the refrigerator and the flour mixture from the refrigerator, toss the sliced ​​butter pieces with a few pinches of the flour mixture to coat the pieces (to avoid them from sticking together and to keep them separated)
  • add the chilled butter slices to the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse 2 times for 1 second each time, then add the liquid mixture in 3 additions and blend/pulse for 1 second each time until grainy (but not creamy)
  • note : if your food processor is small, you can do a half of the mixture at a time and repeat …
  • empty the contents of the food processor in a bowl or a work surface, form into a round ball and wrap up tightly with plastic film
  • place inside the refrigerator and let it hydrate, firm up and rest for at least 1 hour or even overnight for the next day
  • remove from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes until softer, then roll out into a large disk about 37 cm in diameter and at least 5 mm thick, then cut out a perfect circle of 35 cm in diameter, place on a large piece of plastic film, wrap well and re-chill in the refrigerator

poached pumpkin filling :

  • in a large pot, combine the apple juice, butter, sugar and all spices and flavorings and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes
  • squeeze the juice from 2 lemons, peel and slice the pumpkin flesh into flatter 5 mm thick pieces and toss with lemon juice
  • add the pumpkin slices to the hot poaching liquid, let it simmer again for 5-10  minutes at low heat, then turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let cool down, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 hours (but not too much longer or the butter starts separating from the liquid and hardens)
  • note: if the pumpkin is not tender enough, then simmer at low heat for another 5-10 minutes and then let cool down again …
  • remove the pumpkin slices from the poaching liquid and strain for a few minutes (if not spicy enough, you can toss with additional ground spices)
  • note : you can reuse the poaching liquid again either by reserving in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or freezing for much longer …
  • toss all the pumpkin slices with the additional sugar, cornstarch and half of the dried nuts and dried fruits (the other half of the dried fruits and nuts and all the roasted pumpkin seeds will be used as a final topping)

assembly :

  • remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a large piece of baking paper covering your baking sheet
  • brush the top surface (which will be the inside) of your pie dough with some beaten egg white and sprinkle with some sugar
  • place an empty spring-form pan (without the bottom and measuring 24-25 cm in diameter) in the middle of the pie dough and then fill and layer with your pumpkin slices mixed with the dried fruits and nuts to create a nice compact shape
  • remove the empty spring-form pan, fold the dough edges over part of the pumpkin pie filling , pinch the dough edges together and also brush the exterior with some beaten egg white and sprinkle with the remaining sugar
  • sprinkle the remaining dried fruits and nuts and pumpkin seeds on top of the pie filling
  • place inside the freezer for at least 1 hour
  • note : you can freeze the pie for longer and let it partly thaw for 60-90 minutes in the refrigerator before baking …
  • preheat the oven at 210°C for 30 minutes
  • place the pie that is on the baking paper covered baking sheet directly on the floor of the oven (without a rack) and bake for 5-10 minutes (to crisp up the bottom)
  • move the tart to the lowest rack and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until crispy and golden (loosely cover with some aluminum foil after 20 minutes if the top surface of the pie becomes too dark too quickly)
  • serve slightly warm or cooled, use a bread knife to cut into 8-12 thick slices and serve.