My dad’s favourite (although now tied with the Christmas mince apple crumble tart), this is a perfectly spiced semi-classic.
100 grams cold butter, chopped
¼ cup icing sugar
1¼ cups plain flour
1 egg yolk
½ -1 tablespoon cold water
600 grams peeled, deseeded pumpkin, cut into 6cm chunks
3 tablespoons maple syrup
500 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
1¼ cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each ground nutmeg, ground cloves and ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon custard powder
3 large eggs, size 7
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 cup walnut halves
softly whipped cream
Equipment: 25cm deep removable-base quiche tin. Line a roasting dish and a square lipped oven tray with baking paper.
Preheat the oven to 180°C regular bake.
Pastry: Put the butter, icing sugar and flour in a food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and ½ tablespoon water and pulse until the mixture forms large clumps, adding the remaining water only if necessary. Tip out on to a clean bench and pat and squash together into a round disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Filling: Place the chunks of pumpkin in the prepared roasting dish, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup then cover with tinfoil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin can be easily pierced with a knife. Cut into smaller pieces to cool.
Spray the tin lightly with oil. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured bench. Release from the bench if necessary with a spatula and fit into the tart tin. Press into the sides and base, patching any holes and trimming away any excess pastry. Prick the bottom lightly with the tines of a fork and put in the
freezer for 5 minutes. Line the pastry with a circle of baking paper and fill with baking beans, weights or rice. Bake for 12 minutes, remove the baking paper and weights and cook a further 8 minutes.
While the pastry is cooking, put the cooled pumpkin in a food processor with the cream cheese, sugar, spices, salt, custard powder and the remaining 1 tablespoon maple syrup and blend until smooth. Add the eggs and pulse briefly to combine, then pour into the base. Tap the tin on the bench to pop any air bubbles, then bake a further 35-40 minutes, or until it still has a bit of wobble in the middle. Cool completely on the bench then place in the fridge to chill.
Praline: Put the caster sugar and water together in a pan and whisk to start the sugar dissolving. Cook, without stirring, over a medium heat until the mixture has crystallised then turned a transparent light golden colour. Keep an eagle eye on the caramel so that you don’t miss the magical point between golden and rich, and black and bitter. As soon as you have a golden amber liquid add the walnuts, swirl to coat, then pour them onto the prepared tray, making loose patterns if desired. Once the praline is cold you can smash it into chunks with the end of a rolling pin, or peel it off the paper and use it in whole pieces.
To serve: Serve the tart topped with the walnut praline and softly whipped cream on the side.
Cook’s note: Use 400 grams purchased shortcrust pastry instead of making the pastry if desired.