Hello my American friends approaching Thanksgiving. I have adapted below Karina Allrich’s recipe for a gluten free crustless pumpkin pie from the excellent “Gluten Free Goddess” website. Her version is vegan, because it includes egg replacer* (which I think we are supposed to avoid on the WA diet). I made it with 2 eggs and consequently omitted the oil. She advised using canned pumpkin to get a firmness and lack of wateriness, but we can’t get that over here, so I made a fresh puree (see “Notes on using fresh pumpkin” after the recipe).
I really need your comments if you try this recipe. I am at a disadvantage because we just don’t eat pumpkin pie over here. As such, I have no idea how it is supposed to look or taste. My version (with eggs and fresh puree) took longer to cook and had a cracked top. I don’t know which of the many variables I changed caused the cracked top. I also don’t know how firm or wobbly the pie is supposed to be. This is what Karina says about knowing when it’s done: “The pie should be firm- but still give a little when lightly touched. The center should not be wet. It will fall a bit as it cools.” But does she say this because she doesn’t use eggs? If you use eggs, would you expect the middle to be completely firm or would you remove the pie from the oven when it is not quite set in the middle (as for a custard tart)? After all, the eggs do keep cooking under those circumstances and firm up, don’t they? The first time, I cooked the pie for 1¼ hours, and the second time for 1 hour 40 mins in order to get this fully firm centre, but I think the second time was too much.
Anyway, do let me know how yours turns out, and if you don’t get a cracked top, please tell me what you did!
Vegan Pumpkin Pie (with my alterations/comments in brackets)
by Karina Allrich
… I have two more secret ingredients that make this pie work. No wait. Three. Good tasting hemp milk is a must. The reason is the thickness and richness (and the good-for-you fat- EFA's, in fact). If you can't find hemp milk, coconut milk would be the next best option. Thin non-dairy milks like rice milk aren't gonna cut it.
Next up is tapioca starch. I prefer it to cornstarch for thickening gluten-free pie filling. There's not much in here, but it works hard to keep your custard together. Which brings me to the final magic ingredient.
Xanthan gum. I know xanthan gum is a weird and scary ingredient but in this recipe it's worth it's weight in gold because it lends a silky smoothness to the custard as well as helps to bind it (akin to what egg whites do).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch glass pie plate.
I made the pie in a food processor. It helps to thoroughly process the ingredients. If you don't have a food processor, a macho stand mixer will work.
In a food processor bowl add:
1 14 to 15-oz can pumpkin (I used 14oz/400g fresh puree, see below)
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) plain hemp milk (I used full fat coconut milk)
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla (this is alcohol based and I did use it. If you have alcohol-free, perhaps you’ll need more?)
2 tablespoons light olive oil (omit oil if using eggs)
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer (or sub 2 large eggs)
3/4 cup organic brown sugar (I used 5 tsp FOS/stevia mix)
1/2 cup (90g) buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (I used ¼ tsp Vit C crystals mixed in a cup with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (leave this out if using the raising agent I did)
1 teaspoon cinnamon or pie spice (I used mixed spice, which I’m guessing is equivalent)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (if grating your own whole nutmeg, try ¼ tsp not ½ if using in addition to pie/mixed spice).
Cover and process until smooth and creamy. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl, if necessary to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. (I suggest you process all the ingredients except the sweetener, then add your sweetener to taste, processing again).
Pour into the prepared pie plate and smooth evenly. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about an hour until done. (Check after one hour. If it’s not done, cover loosely with foil and bake for longer – 15 mins? I don’t know how long – see above!). The pie should be firm- but still give a little when lightly touched. The center should not be wet. It will fall a bit as it cools, like my Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe.
Cool the pie on a wire rack completely. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until serving.
Makes 8 slices.
Notes on using fresh pumpkin
Can you get canned pumpkin in the UK?
The short answer is “only with great difficulty”. If you have access to a store with a posh food hall (e.g. Selfridges, Harvey Nicholls, Harrods), you might find it in there. If you intend to make a special journey, I suggest you phone first to see if they stock it (if it ever was available there, I bet all the US ex-pats have cleared the shelves at this time of year).
If you want to buy online, Libby’s 425 g can (= 15 oz) is available from these websites in the UK: “American Sweets” and “American Soda” (sold out on the latter - Nov 08). Put the names into Google to find the websites. However, you will of course have to pay p+p on top of the product price.
All in all, I think it’s easier to make your own puree.
Making your own puree
I used butternut squash because I read that it is less watery than pumpkin for this purpose and that what is labelled as pumpkin on the American cans is in fact very often butternut squash, presumably for this reason.
The first time I made the pie, I bought 2 extra large butternut squashes, with a total unprepared weight of 2.2 kg. The second time, I bought 4 smaller butternut squashes with a total unprepared weight of 3.1 kg. In each case, this gave me enough puree for 14oz (400g) for the pie + one cup (8oz/225g) to freeze for a later recipe. So, bear in mind that the smaller the squash, the more proportional space the seeds will take up and make sure you buy enough.
To make the puree
One option is to peel, deseed, chop and boil the squash till tender, then drain, cool and puree. I chose instead to bake the squash in the oven (and I had to use two tins/dishes and two oven shelves when I baked the smaller ones). I washed the squash, cut them in half lengthways and took out the seeds. Then I placed the halves flesh side down in an oiled roasting tin/large Pyrex dish and baked in the oven at 200 C/ 400 F/ Gas Mark 6 for about an hour and a half. When I used the smaller squash, I moved the second dish to the top shelf after removing the top dish and cooked those squash for a little longer.
Then I removed the squash from the tin/dish and place on plates to cool. When cool, I tore off the skins by hand and discarded those, placing the pulp in the largest bowl of my food processor. I processed until smooth. Then I placed a colander over a large saucepan, placed an old, clean tea towel inside the colander (the towel will stain) and placed the squash puree in the towel, covering the top of the puree with the towel. I placed this whole apparatus in the fridge till the next day to drain. (Tip – check you can fit this in your fridge before you put the pulp into the tea towel).
Next day, I discarded the water that had drained into the saucepan, scraped the squash puree off the tea towel and weighed it ready for the pie. I had one cup of puree left over and froze that to use later.