Robert May’s Pompion Pie (The Accomplisht Cook c.1660)
Take a pound of pumpkin and slice it, a handful of thyme, a little rosemary, and sweet marjoram stripped off the stalks, chop them small, then take cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and a few cloves all beaten, also 10 eggs, and beat them, then mix and beat them all together, with as much sugar as you think fit, then fry them like a fraise, after it is fried, let it stand till it is cold, then fill your pie after this manner. Take apples sliced thin round ways, and lay a layer of the fraise, and a layer of apples with currants betwixt the layers. While your pie is fitted, put in a good deal of sweet butter before you close it. When the pie is baked, take six yolks of eggs, some white wine or verjuice, and make a caudle of this, but not too thick, cut up the lid, put it in, and stir them well together whilst the eggs and pumpkin be not perceived, and so serve it up.
Whilst I have no problem including herbs in sweet recipes, on this occasion I feel they are unmerited as they compete with the spices. Instead I have replaced them with orange zest which would have been available during the period. I have included currants but these can be omitted if they are not your thing. I have borrowed the idea of the topping from the apple crumble tart in Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book.
22cm pre-baked sweet pastry case, at least 3cm deep (see note below)
500g pumpkin or butternut squash (seeds removed but skin on)
100g-150g golden caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
3 medium eggs, beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Grated zest of a medium orange or half a large orange
3 tbsp currants (optional)
3-4 eating apples (c.350g) e.g. cox, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
100g plain flour
75g cold unsalted butter, cubed
50g chopped, roasted hazelnuts
50g soft golden caster sugar
¼-½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pre-heat the oven to 160℃. Cut the pumpkin or squash into chunks, removing the seeds but leaving the skin on. Place on a baking sheet skin side down then roast it for an hour or until tender. Allow to cool then scoop the flesh away from the skin. Blitz in a food processor until smooth.
Place the pumpkin in a bowl along with 100g golden caster sugar, melted butter, eggs, spices and orange zest. Beat well until combined. Different squash and pumpkin have various degrees of sweetness so add more sugar if you feel the mixture requires it.
Place half the apples in the base of the cooked pastry case then sprinkle with 1½ tbsp currants (if using). Spread half the pumpkin mixture over the top then repeat the layers. Bake at 160℃ for 30-40 minutes.
While the pie is baking make the crumble topping. Sieve the flour into a bowl then rub the butter in until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the roasted hazelnuts, golden caster sugar and ground cinnamon.
After the tart has been in the oven for 30 minutes, remove it then spread the crumble topping over the top. Increase the oven temperature to 180℃ then return the tart to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes or until the topping is brown and the filling completely set. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Can be served warm or cold and is lovely with cold cream or even ice cream.
Note: You may prefer to use shop bought sweet pastry in which case a 500g block would be ample for this recipe. Alternatively, if you prefer to make your own pastry allow 200g plain flour to 100g fat, cut into small cubes (I use 50g unsalted butter and 50g lard but all butter would be fine). Stir in 2 tbsp icing sugar before you rub the fat into the flour. Bind with a beaten egg yolk plus a little cold water if needed to make a firm but not sticky dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. Whether you are using shop bought or homemade pastry you will need to bake the pastry blind before proceeding recipe. Preheat the oven to 180℃. Roll the pastry to fit the flan tin, leaving a little pastry overhanging the edges (reserve a little just in case of splits during cooking). Prick the base of the tart to prevent it puffing up. Line the case with baking paper and fill with ceramic beans. Bake for 10 minutes then remove the beans, brush with a little beaten egg white (to avoid any soggy bottoms!) and bake for a further 10 minutes. The case is now ready to fill.