The incomparable smell of honeyed pumpkin pie flooded our home each time my mother decided to work on a pie project. She never made just the one pie – she almost always started out with spinach pie and then continued with a pumpkin pie or even another pie with trahana. This habit, which – sadly for us – she has abandoned in the last few years, was passed down to her by her own mother.
My grandma, like most women of the Greek countryside, used to bake pies in one of those awesome wood ovens they had out in the yard. Their families were usually big and there was no chance everyone’s appetite would be satisfied by just one pan of pie. The common picture was 2 or 3 neighborhood women getting together in one houses, making the stuffing for the pies, “feeding” the oven with a lot of wood to keep the heat up and then baking the pies. It was usually 5 or 6 pans of pie baking at once, and sometimes there would even be a second round of baking.
Pies are almost by definition a satisfying but not very expensive recipe to make, so they were worth the time and the effort to make them. The whole process was laborious and time-consuming, as it started early in the morning and was done by noon, but cooking with company was probably a fun solution against stress.
Consider how many times we cook with more gusto if we have a couple of good friends with us in the kitchen, to share not only the chores, but also a glass of wine while the food gets ready…
INGREDIENTS (28cm round pan)
- 500g orange pumpkin (net weight, weigh it after it’s lost most of its fluids, ie about 600g original weight)
- a little salt (about ½ teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon of rice
- 100g brown sugar
- 60g almond and walnut, grated and mixed
- 1 full tablespoon of raisins
- 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, lightly roasted
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, grated
- ½ teaspoon of clove, grated
- 1 vanilla capsule or the seeds of a vanilla pod
- 8 sheets of crust
- 3 full tablespoons of honey (lightly warmed so as to be fluid)
Clean the pumpkin from its peel and chop it into large cubes.
Grate the pumpkin in a blender, but not so much that it becomes mushy. We want it to feel like it was grated by hand.
Of course you can also grate it on the thick side of a grater. Empty the pumpkin into a colander and put salt, add rice and stir well. Cover it up and let it strain for at least 3 hours.
The rice needs to be added from the start because it has to keep a bit of moisture from the inside of the pumpkin, so the stuffing isn’t completely dry.
Place the strained pumpkin in a big bowl and add sugar, the grated nuts, the sesame, the cinnamon, the clove, the raisins and the vanilla. Stir very well.
Pour olive oil in a pan and spread 6 out of the sheets of crust, after buttering them up one by one.
After spreading all 6 sheets, pour some grated rusk on top, before emptying in the stuffing. This will absorb all excessive liquids to keep the sheets from being drenched.
Empty the pumpkin mix in the pan and even it out with a span. Fold in the sheets that our hanging out of the pan and cover the pie.
Cover with the remaining 2 sheets of crust. Don’t forget to butter those up as well.
Carve the pieces into the pie and bake in 170 degrees Celsius, for about 50 minutes.
If you like a strong taste of cinnamon, you can add a bit of grated cinnamon on some of the sheets.
When the pumpkin pie is baked, take it out of the stove and while it’s still hot, pour some honey over it. Let the pie absorb the honey and cool off a bit. You can eat it in tepid room temperature, or even cold.