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For anybody celebrating Thanksgiving this week, venison would almost certainly have been on the menu alongside wild turkey and corn at the original feast. Not a pumpkin pie in sight! That came later. Here at Cactus Kitchens, we’d be happy to eat Chef Chris King’s pumpkin pie at any time of year.


This delicious and sophisticated tart recipe comes from Chris King, the Executive Chef at The Langham Hotel in London. This has featured as part of Chris' cookery experiences here at Cactus Kitchens. An essential part is making your own sweet pastry - a little daunting but it will come with practice!

About this recipe

Preparation Time 90 Minutes
Cooking Time 35 Minutes
Serves 8 People


For the sweet pastry

  • 700g plain flour
  • 375g unsalted butter, diced & at room temperature
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, free-range & at room temperature
  • 75ml ice cold water
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. milk, beaten together

For the pumpkin filling

  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 30g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • half tsp. ground ginger
  • quarter tsp. ground nutmeg
  • half tsp fine salt
  • 400g pumpkin purée
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 10g unsalted butter, melted
  • 40ml double cream
  • 2 tsp dark rum
  • icing sugar (dusting to serve)



This pastry recipe makes more than you need for the one tart. It’s very hard to make a small amount of pastry, but any you have left roll into a tart shell, wrap it tightly and freeze it for up to a month. Just defrost and bake.


For the pastry: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment slowly mix the icing sugar and diced butter (at room temperature) just until it’s homogenous. Try not to whip any air into the mix, or the texture of the tart will not be as ‘short’ and crumbly.


With the mixer paddle still moving slowly add the egg yolks one by one to the mix. Once they’re all incorporated add the flour, all at once, to the bowl. Mix gently until the pastry starts to come together then drizzle in some of the water. You may not need it all, it depends on the flour you’re using, and the size of your egg yolks.


As soon as you’ve added enough for the pastry to form a ball and come away from the sides of the bowl stop mixing, it’s ready.


Separate the dough into 2- 4 balls (depending on the size of your tarts) and slightly flatten them (it makes it easier to roll later) wrap them in cling-film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


On a cool surface, lightly dusted with flour, roll out one of your balls slightly wider than your tart tin and no thicker than 2 millimetres. Lightly dust your rolled pastry with flour and place your rolling pin on top. This takes a little leap of faith, roll the pastry over and around the rolling pin then lift it up and gently unroll it into your tart mould. If all’s well it should have unfurled perfectly into the tin.


Make a little marble of excess dough and use it to gently push the pastry into the corners of the tin. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the edges of the mould, it is better to trim them later. 


With a fork prick the pastry base all over and leave to rest in the fridge for another thirty minutes.


Line the base with greaseproof paper and pour baking beans up to the top (fancy ceramic or dried chickpeas will do). Bake at 165°C for about 20 minutes.


Remove the baking beans and paper and brush the tart with the egg yolk and milk mixture, this will patch up any cracks and waterproof your tart shell from the filling keeping it crisp and short.


Return the tart shell to the oven for five minutes, or until golden brown. At this point leave the edges (which will probably look a little dark by now) hanging over the tin.


For the pumpkin filling: Making pumpkin purée from scratch is a bit tricky since the water content of different pumpkins varies widely. If I’m honest I would buy a good quality tin (which more supermarkets stock now) if I was making the tart at home.


If you want to make your own purée choose a firm, dark coloured pumpkin like Muscat de Provence and roast it quartered, in the skin, until tender.


Scoop out the flesh and blend in the liquidiser, then leave to drain overnight in a muslin lined colander.


In a stand mixer whisk together the eggs and the two sugars until they fluff up and turn a pale colour, doubling in size. Then gently fold in the flour and spices. Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add to the mix.


Fold in the pumpkin purée followed by the melted butter, double cream and a generous slug of rum.


For the tart: Pre-heat the oven to 160C.


Pour the mix into the tart shell and bake until it’s just set like a custard tart, about 20 minutes. The top will go slightly golden brown and it should still have a slight wobble in the very middle like a custard tart.


Let the tart rest and cool slightly then trim off its sides.


Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm.

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