In the days when travellers moved around by horse or carriage and had to carry their food with them, pastry (as a lid or a wrapping) was a useful means of transporting sloppier fillings. If you want a whole day at work in your garden, without the bother of cooking, making portable, sustaining food is a good idea. This recipe requires shortcrust pastry, which I urge you to make yourself. Ready-made is fine if time is short, but cannot be compared with crumbling, golden shortcrust, made with good butter and some dexterity. Home-made pastry is an act of love, a way of showing that you care enough to make an extra bit of effort. If you need help to get your plot ready for winter, food is a good lure. Gather your friends for an afternoon of leaf-raking and reward their efforts with a spiced pumpkin pasty.
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Spiced pumpkin pasties
When making the pastry, keep everything as cold as possible and handle the dough lightly. This will make enough shortcrust pastry for 6-8 pasties. The pasty recipe can be adapted to various fillings. Replace the spices and aromatics with dill and feta to add a twist to the pumpkin, or try a mixture of ham hock, leeks and peas.
- 300g plain flour
- 175g unsalted butter
- 6tbsp, approx, very cold water mixed with a squeeze of lemon juice
- Pinch of sea salt
Spiced pumpkin filling
- 400g pumpkin or squash, cut into 1cm cubes
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch of turmeric
- Sea salt
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1tsp ginger, finely grated
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1tsp cumin, freshly ground
- 8 curry leaves (optional)
First make the shortcrust pastry. Weigh out the flour and butter into a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour to make small cubes. (Making the butter floury stops it from melting.) Mix and cover the bowl, then place it into the fridge to get extra cold. After 10-15 min, remove it from the fridge and rub the butter in with your fingertips. Add the salt. When the mixture resembles coarse sand, add the water, mixing and chopping the pastry with a table knife. When it starts to cohere, quickly draw the mixture together and shape into a ball. Cover with cling film. Massage briefly through the cling film, then place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
While the pastry is chilling, move on to making the filling for the pasties. In a pan of boiling water, simmer the pumpkin, salt, turmeric and bay leaves until the pumpkin is just tender. (I used Boston or hubbard squash for this recipe, which cooked in around 5 minutes.) Drain. Fry the onion in a little vegetable oil until soft, then add the ginger, garlic, cumin and curry leaves. Stir and cook for 3 min. Add the pumpkin. Cook for another minute or two, until it is dryish. Allow to cool.
Now take the pastry out of the fridge, and roll out on a floured surface to around 4mm thick. Using a saucer as a template, cut circles of pastry. Place 2tbsp of filling in the centre, brush a little egg wash around the edge of the circle and fold over, pinching the sides together. If the edges get slippery, dip your fingers in a little flour. Line a baking tray with parchment and space the pasties out so they don’t touch. Make a tiny slit in the top to prevent them from exploding, and brush with egg wash. Cover and chill again for 10 minutes if you have time, then bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool on a rack.