Introduction: Potter's Portable Pumpkin Pasties

As a chronic American, there were many cultural references I didn't understand in the very British Harry Potter books. For example, what is a treacle tart? A trifle? A...humbug? ...Okay, now I think you're pulling our legs, because no one in the English-speaking world would name a foodstuff "spotted dick".

But the one that always brought my mind screeching to a halt was the pumpkin pastie. What on earth is a pastie? How do you even pronounce that? Paste-y? Past-ee? Past-ay?

My elementary school self would've been interested to know that it's pronounced "past-ee", and that rather than some orange paste that bored wizards squirt into their mouths, the pumpkin pastie is one of the most awesome and American foods possible: a pumpkin pie, to go.They are the very best part of Thanksgiving, in your lunchbox, any day of the year.

I'll give you a basic recipe with some interesting variations, but keep in mind that recipes should be followed about as closely as the rules of Hogwarts, and just like in the children's story from which they're drawn, you will be awarded House Points for flagrant disregard of safety and authority.

Step 1: Reagents

You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of pastie-making. As there is little difficulty here, many of you will hardly believe this is baking.

You will need:

For the filling

  •     4 eggs
  •     1 29oz. can of pumpkin (substitute with 29oz. (800 grams) 1-inch cubed sweet potatoes, steamed for 20 minutes and mashed if canned pumpkin is unavailable in your country. The pumpkin pie flavor comes from the spices, not the pumpkin)
  •     1 1/2 cups (450 g) sugar
  •     1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
  •     1 teaspoon (5ml) ginger
  •     1/2 teaspoon (3ml) ground cloves
  •     24 oz.  (6.5 dl) evaporated milk

For the crust
  • Three cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8ml) salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.75 dl) oil
  • 3/4 cup (1.75 dl) water
  • (NOTE: this will only make enough crust for about 1/2 of the filling. The filling is tasty on its own, though, so you don't have to use it all in pies. If you do want to, just double the recipe for crust.)

Step 2: Filling Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F (220°C).
  2. Put all the ingredients for the filling into a bowl.
  3. Mix it up.
  4. Pour it into a pan.
  5. Bake it for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° F (175°C) for another 45 minutes.
You should let it sit for a while to cool--if you scoop it immediately, it'll be too moist.

Step 3: Crust Procedure

Pie crusts are delicate creatures. You must lovingly combine the oil, water, flour and salt at a low temperature, mixing it all together perfectly evenly without agitating things any more than absolutely necessary. This means drizzling the liquids in very slowly, feeling the way they combine. It is a process which takes years to master, and if you do it wrong, your crust will not be the crumbly delight people expect and you will shame your ancestors.

Thankfully, we're not making a pie. We're making a pastie, and a crumbly crust is the last thing we want. As such, things are a lot less fussy. I like doing this in more manageable increments, but if you have a larger workspace, by all means do the entire crust at once.
  1. Put 1 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a bowl.
  2. Dump in 1/4 cup of oil and mix thoroughly.
  3. Dump in 1/4 cup water. Mix it all thoroughly.
Repeat 3 times as prescribed, or just do it all at once.

Step 4: Assemble the Pasties!

Preheat your oven to 350° F (175°C)
  1. Roll out the pie dough. I find that parchment helps with this. (Note: muggle "parchment" is actually paper impregnated with silicone that's extremely non-stick. It's great for baking, but not great for doing your homework on)
  2. When it's about 1/4-1/2 inches thick, Use the rim of a bowl like a giant cookie cutter.
  3. Place about 2 tablespoons of your filling into the middle, and fold the dough over.
  4. Crimp around the edges of the pastie with the tines of a fork.
  5. Place on a greased cookie sheet
  6. Cut vents in the top of the pasties with scissors.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.

Step 5: Enjoy!

These pies are ready! You can eat them now, but the particular beauty of these is that they're portable. Take them with you to lunch, or on a picnic, or to the dark isle of Azkaban!

I hope you enjoy this wonderful treat. I, for one, can think of nothing better to snack on while telling yourself over and over that the owl with the acceptance letter is just 12 years late, and is still on its way.

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