I decided to make some mince pies and a pumpkin pie as my contribution to the Thanksgiving dinner my friends were hosting. As I like to make my own pastry (homemade is always the best I say!)I set to work on making the mince pies and pastry the day before Thanksgiving following this recipe, which always usually works for me...spent a good deal of the morning on the Internet trying to find out the conversions of grams to cups or tablespoons, seeing as I don't have my scales here. I cheated a bit with the mincemeat as I bought a jar of Crosse & Blackwell's mincemeat- I keep saying one day, I will have to make my own mincemeat but as it's usually hard to find all the ingredients in Spain and it's more convenient anyway, I end up just buying a jar from thefoodhall.es. I usually use Delia Smith's recipe for perfect pastry (hopefully) After making your pastry then, comes the most difficult bit rolling it out! Dust the countertop(clean of course!)with flour and dust the rolling pin with flour also, so pastry doesn't stick to either. Roll out pastry to required thickness. As I also didn't have my cookie cutters, I made do with a wine glass dipped in flour to cut out pastry circles....who says you need fancy equipment?!!!Usually you would cut out bigger circles for the bottom of mince pies and a smaller circle for the tops but as I have limited cooking equipment here, mine were the same size. Fill pastry with a teaspoon of mincemeat,not too much as it will all splurge out whilst cooking, causing a lot more cleaning-and who wants that?Wet rhe edges of the pastry top with water and cover the mince filling. Mark with a cross or two little arrows for ventilation. Cook for 25 mins at 395 degrees F/ 250 degrees C (not sure if I've got the temperature right in C!) So far so good. I made the pumpkin pie using the Better Homes and Gardens recipe with a minor adaption as I don't want to end up with loads of spices I don't end up using:
5oz plain flour
pinch of salt
cold water to mix
1 15oz canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup half-and-half, milk, single cream
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or if you can't get it, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg)
Make the pastry and line a 9 inch (25cm) pie dish with pastry.
Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices. Add eggs and beat until combined. Add half-and-half gradually and mix. Pour into pastry shell and cook in preheated oven for 25 mins, lower pie to bottom shelf to prevent pastry from getting too crispy and cook further 25 mins until knife comes out clean, when inserted into centre. Cool and refrigerate.
I had a lot of problems making the pastry base...the pastry kept cracking when I was rolling it out and breaking when I was trying to place it in the pie dish. Don't worry though, if you have these problems...my Gran always says it's supposed to be good pastry if it cracks! Perserverance is the key here and lots of patience although I have to admit after 3 or 4 attempts mine was wearing pretty thin! If the pastry cracks a lot or is too dry, add more cold water and if it ends up to wet and watery, add more flour. Eventually I managed to transfer the pastry to the dish with only mild breakage and as I had some pastry leftover from the mince pies, I was able to patch it up and make a more or less crimped edge...so an important lesson, always hang on to your scraps...you never know when they may come in handy.