At this point, it feels almost redundant to say that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I mean, most of my generation is—we grew up reading the series, going to midnight premieres, and living in a worldwide obsession of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As I get older, I still find so much comfort and meaning in rereading the books and interacting with the enduring fan communities, like that of Harry Potter & The Sacred Text.
I’m rereading the series for the umpteenth time. Of course, I always get extra excited about all the magical food and drinks. A few years ago, I hosted a dinner with friends and made a few inspired treats like pumpkin pasties, treacle tart, butterbeer, and pumpkin juice. They were intermingled with some British staples of a Sunday roast: slow-cooked beef, Yorkshire puddings, and roasted veg.
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Harry Potter dinner, complete with roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pasties, treacle tart, pumpkin juice, and butterbeer 🎃 🍽🍻 . . #harrypotter #yum #fictionalfoods
A post shared by Ashlee (@ashredger) on Aug 6, 2017 at 3:49pm PDT
But… I didn’t write any recipes down. I can recall just a few details of a pumpkin juice that tasted exactly like what I imagined or the aspects I wanted to change about the treacle tart. Since I can’t just wave a wand and make all of it appear again, I’ve decided to recreate my versions of the fictional favorites from Harry Potter—starting with pumpkin pasties.
Curried Pumpkin Pasties
Last time I made pumpkin pasties, I came across a post from Bijoux & Bits where she made a sweet variety along with a savory one. This idea stuck with me, and I started thinking about what kind of flavors would be used in a snack like this one. It came to me almost immediately: curry. The English love their curry houses and tikka masala—it makes sense that if pumpkin pasties were savory, they’d probably be spiced with an Indian-style curry blend.
So I started with a pie pumpkin (also called sugar pumpkins), which are meant for baking as opposed to the gigantic squashes that we carve up for jack-o’-lanterns. You could absolutely use butternut or acorn squash here, or even sweet potatoes! It should be roasted just until it’s soft and can be cubed, but not so much that it turns to mush when it’s mixed with sauteed onions and toasted curry powder. After baking, these pasties totally resembled samosas, with their super buttery crust and the warm, spiced squash filling. Perfect autumn snack!
I have to be totally honest though: I don’t actually think pumpkin pasties are savory. Although I’d love to think that the kids had a savory, salty snack thrown in with all the treats, it seems like most of the witches and wizards in the books have major sweet tooths. So I made a sweet version as well!
Sweet Pumpkin Pasties
Okay, let me come clean. This recipe uses half of a pumpkin for the curried pasties and a portion of a can of pumpkin puree for the sweet. It’s a crime, I know. Why did I commit this atrocity, you may ask? It came down to my stubborn imagination of a realistic shelf-stable sweet pasty. Pastries with diced veggies in them just aren’t going to stay fresh and edible for as long as ones with pureed fillings potentially could.
I know what you’re thinking: why not just puree the second half of that pumpkin we just roasted? I’ve got an answer for that too. Canned pureed pumpkin is actually made of closely related varieties of squash that have more concentrated sweetness and the “pumpkin” flavor that we’re familiar with, more so than the sugar pumpkins that you can find in stores. Sure, you could totally blend that other half and use it for your sweet pasties—but I strongly prefer the canned stuff when it comes to pumpkin puree. Don’t worry though! The other half of the roasted pumpkin is an excellent addition to cooked grains, chili, or pasta and the remainder of the canned puree can be used to make pumpkin juice (stay tuned for that recipe).
For the spices in the sweet pasties, I didn’t want to just sprinkle in some pumpkin spice blend and call it good. I wanted these pasties to be lighter and brighter than the standard pumpkin pie filling. Yes, I did use cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but the warmer flavors are balanced with zingy ginger and floral cardamom. Make sure you taste your filling—you can always add more of the spices to your taste!
Okay, so we’ve made our filling and you’ve already prepared your pie crust (of course!). Now comes the hard part: crimping. I did a lot of research on Cornish pasties for this recipe, and found that there are two crimping styles: the top crimp and the side crimp. I loved the way the top crimp looked, but I think side crimping might be a tad more tradish. I compromised and crimped the savory pasties on the top and the sweet pasties on the side. If crimping by hand isn’t your forte, try the top crimp first as I had an easier time with it. If it’s still not working out, go back to folding them on their side and press the edges with a fork to seal. Don’t stress—do what works best for you!
I’ll be honest, my kitchen was warm on the day I made my pumpkin pasties. I kept all of the pie dough chilled except for when I was working with portions of it. Still, when it came time for crimping, it felt like the dough was “melting” almost immediately. It made getting a good seal on the pasties more difficult and the final product didn’t look as cute as they could have on a cooler day. One small way to avoid getting the dough too warm while you prepare the pasties is to dip your hands in cold water and dry them thoroughly before working with the dough. On the plus side, I made King Arthur Flour’s recipe and, even though conditions were less than ideal, they still came out so flaky and buttery. Highly recommend!
Curried & Sweet Pumpkin Pasties Recipe
Makes 8 curried and 8 sweet pumpkin pasties (16 total)
Ingredients Curried Pumpkin Pasty Filling 1 small pie pumpkin, about 2 lbs Oil, to drizzle 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter ¼ cup finely diced yellow onion 1 ½ tsp. yellow curry powder* 2 tsp. honey Salt & pepper, to taste Sweet Pumpkin Pasty Filling 1 cup canned pumpkin puree** 1 egg ¼ cup light brown sugar ¼ tsp. kosher salt ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon ¼ tsp. ground ginger ⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg (or freshly grated on a microplane) 1/16 tsp. ground cardamom 1/16 tsp. ground allspice Assembly 2 unrolled pie crust doughs (enough for a double crusted pie) 2 eggs, beaten (for egg wash) Preparation Curried Pumpkin Pasty Filling Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the tough stem off of the pumpkin and cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds*** and stringy “guts.” Place cleaned halves on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and flip cut-side down. Roast on the middle oven rack until a knife slides through the skin and flesh with slight give, about 30 minutes. Carefully flip pumpkin halves over to allow steam to escape and prevent continued cooking of the pumpkin flesh. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove the pumpkin skin (it should peel off easily when pulled). Cut 1 half of the pumpkin flesh into small cubes, about 1/2-inch (you should have about 2 cups). Reserve the other pumpkin half for other uses****. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sweat until transparent and softened, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and add curry powder. Toast for until very aromatic, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cubed pumpkin and honey. Season with salt & pepper to taste and let cool to room temperature. Sweet Pumpkin Pasty Filling In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Set aside. Assembly Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375°F. Split each dough into 8 portions (16 portions altogether) and roll each portion into a ball. On a floured surface, roll one ball at a time into a 6-inch circle (don’t worry about them being perfectly round). Keep any dough you aren’t working with in the refrigerator. For 8 of the circles, fill with 2 heaping Tbsp. curried pumpkin filling. Brush edges of circle with beaten egg, fold, and crimp edges to seal (I used a top crimp for savory pasties). Keep any unused dough or prepared pasties in the refrigerator while not working with them. Repeat with remaining 8 circles, using about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of sweet pumpkin filling per pasty (I used a side crimp for sweet pasties). Place prepared pasties on baking sheet and brush the outsides all over with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool and enjoy. These are best when eaten within a day of being made, but you can store leftovers in the refrigerator and re-crisp in a warm oven. Notes
* There are so many curry powders. Since this is a British dish, I stuck to a “standard” Indian blend and used Spice Islands Yellow Curry Powder. It was pretty cumin-heavy, so I added 1/2 tsp. coriander and 1/8 tsp. ground ginger to the pumpkin mixture to brighten it up. Feel free to use your favorite bottled or homemade curry blend!
** Save the rest of the puree from the can! You can use this to make pumpkin juice (stay tuned for that recipe) or follow some of these great suggestions.
*** To roast pumpkin seeds, rinse off all of the pulp and let them dry on a baking sheet. Drizzle them lightly with oil and salt or season as desired. Roast in a 375°F oven until they start to brown, about for 10 to 15 minutes (shaking the sheet every 5 minutes or so). Let cool and get snacking!
**** The remaining roasted pumpkin half can be cubed and stirred into pastas dishes, grain salads, or stews. Alternatively, you can puree it for your own scratch-made pumpkin pie or creamy soup. Pureed pumpkin can be frozen and kept for up to a year.