Oh yeahhh. Alriiight. North American for Life.

I’m not going to go through a whole thing about how living here has allowed me to fully realize what I want from lifeblahblahblah mostly because it is Saturday and even though it isn’t particularly early in the day, my coffee is quite cold so I don’t feel like going on some kind of spiritual rant.

What I will talk about, however, is pie.

Pumpkin pie, to be precise. Those of you who have access to my more to-the-minute bits and bobs about London Town on the Book of Face may remember my suspicions that someone went into the Whole Foods in Camden and bought all the precious pumpkin puree, leaving me pumpkin pie-less for Canadian Thanksgiving. Fair enough.

I waited patiently for the puree to come back, visiting Camden for something other than ice cream (but also ice cream I admit) the weeks between the two Thankgivings, eventually accepting that the second wave (American-styles) was probably when my luck would strike.

And oh my how my patience was rewarded.

Venturing not to Camden but to the largest Whole Foods in London, Kensington (well known borough that boasts all things fancy-pants like Harrods and Harvey Nichols in Nightsbridge, and Chelsea).

Buy-what-you-need blue eggs. Whole Foods may have the only bulk-style shopping in London.

As a Canadian who does not live in Toronto or BC, I had never actually had a Whole Foods experience until I combed through ex-pat message boards online trying to find somewhere that carried pumpkin puree, and finding that Waitrose was a highly unreliable source.  Whole Foods is some kind of magical foodie playground, but for people who don’t really know much about cooking. For someone who is too tired to cook by the end of a day spent in a kitchen, it was pretty great. Except it isn’t near where I live so living in a Whole Foods world is not an option.

I would love to grind my own flour. But I need to make pie instead.

Shops with an ounce of humour do it for me. You can have all the money, Whole Foods.

The English don’t get sweet pumpkin. I’ve found people who aren’t from North America don’t get sweet pie. Regardless, I chose a recipe from a London food shop, Leon, because I wanted to try their take on it. This is where I make a quick note about how I have been dying to make something, anything, without following someone else’s recipe or being instructed over-the-shoulder how to stir something. It was just a pumpkin pie, and the process lasted for about 7 1/2min, but it was good enough.

Leon Pumpkin Pie

450g Pumpkin Puree

3 free range eggs

100ml double cream

150g light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground star anise

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Okay, so I forgot to add the Maple Syrup. Mostly because after I combined everything the filling was really quite sweet and not quite spicy (I upped the spices to at least 1 teaspoon per, using 2 teaspoons ginger and cinnamon) To be fair, I couldn’t get brown sugar and used Demerara instead.  Also, ground star anise? Nope. I don’t know where or how that happens as I’ve never seen it. Therefore it must not exist. I steeped the cream with whole star anise instead. I must say, I did really like the addition of the star anise, even to the exclusion of the most delicious Nutmeg.

And I admit I committed a bit of a pastry sin…the pre-made tart shell. I have my reasons. I don’t want to get into it. Bake for 35 minutes at 180 (350 in Canadia).

This recipe was delightful, save for the slightly-too-sweet aspect, but I think I’m the only one who complained about that. It had a bit of a texture to it because of the high pumpkin ratio (they suggest you sieve it one or two times, but for serious all my tamis are in Canadia), my favourite part since the pumpkin flavour and mouth feel wasn’t diminished by evaporated or condensed milk that is so often included. Topped with Maple Double Cream, it was like a bit of Canada…err…in my mouth….eh?


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