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Pumpkin Pie // 1920s

Updated: May 1, 2021

Guess what? Before making this recipe, neither of us had ever sampled pumpkin pie before. We'd never really seen nor heard of pumpkin pie outside of American television programs or films; the closest we've ever had was a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte, but Starbucks drinks are always a bit weak for us, so while it's one of the more appetising things on the menu, it doesn't really do us any favours.
Well, 2020 is the year for strange new things, isn't it? So, with Mr. HD having grown a beautiful Bambino Pumpkin and 1920s week coming up, we thought we'd have a go at this 1928 Pumpkin Pie recipe and finally see what all the fuss was about.
The first step was to make a rich short pastry using instructions from the same book. These instructions are the most detailed that we have ever found for a pastry, and we learned a few things about how to make shortcrust pastry the very "best way" (...because it's a Bestway Book, after all).
Then you make the filling, which for us being as unexperienced with pumpkin pies as we are and having no clue regarding what it's meant to look, taste or smell like, was rather daunting as it is extremely liquid before baking. We weren't sure if it'd set at all! But, fast forward 1 hr of baking, it did set (hooray!). However, the edges of our pastry had crisped up to the point where we thought it best to shear them down a little (all that decorative forking gone *sigh*).
It took 3 hours for our pie to cool down completely, but by the time it did and we took our first mouthfuls we could see what the fuss was about. Pumpkin pie isn't like anything we'd had before and after our 30+ years on earth we had to get used to it a little, but we can now say that we are fans. The rich pastry goes so well with the smooth, spiced pumpkin filling... mmmmm! Come next autumn, we'll be making another.
Original Recipe: 'Pumpkin Pie' (Book 4, 1928)
Speed: 3 ½ hours | Serves: 8


For the rich shortcrust pastry:

  • 226g flour

  • 170g butter

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1 tsp. caster sugar

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 2 tsp. water

For the filling:

  • 2 lb / 908g pumpkin

  • 28g butter

  • 114g sugar (we used half caster sugar, half muscovado sugar)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cupful of milk

  • ½ tsp. ground ginger

  • A pinch of cinnamon



1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter lightly, "using the tips of the fingers". When it is as fine as breadcrumbs, add the sugar.

2. Mix the egg yolk with the water and then mix into the dough lightly before working this all together with your hands. The whole time, you should try to be as gentle with the dough as possible and never press it together very hard.

3. Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface just the once and patch up where necessary. We rolled ours out to a thickness of about half a centimetre.

4. Line a pie dish or baking tin with the pastry and decorate the edges. The cookbook photograph shows a very simple decoration of fork marks, which we matched.

5. Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Cut it in slices across and boil for about 10 minutes until tender before removing from the pan and straining away the water.

6. Rub the pumpkin through a sieve or mash with a wooden spoon to make a puree. Then, mix into this the butter, sugar, ginger and cinnamon. If the pumpkin is still warm, the butter should melt into it within a few minutes of stirring.

7. Beat up the eggs and then pour the milk into them, beating together quickly. Add this to the pumpkin mixture and stir until to fully combined.

8. Pour into the pie dish and bake in a preheated oven set to 180°C fan (350°F/Gas Mark 4) for about an hour, or until set. You'll know it's ready when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the filling or 2 inches from the edges, comes out clean.

Note: You may want to turn the oven temperature down after the first half hour or so to spare the edges of your pastry from getting singed!

9. Leave to cool down completely before serving.


Original Recipes for 'Pumpkin Pie'

'BOOK 4': Bestway Cookery Gift Book (Third Book) (1928)

By: Best Way

Publisher: Offices of The 'Best Way' Series (Fleetway House, Farringdon Street, London, E.C.4, England, U.K.)

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