When it comes to literary imagination, it is hard to trump J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. These ingeniously crafted books offer departures from reality across all aspects of the story–from language, to transportation, to food. Being a food lover, I read the books imagining what butter beer, pumpkin juice and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans actually tasted like. Writing this blog has made me stop wondering and start investigating! Recently I made a treat from the Honeydukes cart on the Hogwarts Express: Pumpkin Pasties.
Pasties (pronounced PAS-tees) are a staple of English cuisine. These small hand-pies are most widely associated with the county of Cornwall, and are traditionally filled with a mixture of beef and vegetables. The Cornish Pasty actually has a Protected Geographical Indication, meaning that the recipe is basically a culinary historic landmark (that you can eat!). Having watched many Food Network shows about stuffed pastry, I know that the pastie originated as a way for working people to transport their food with them. The crust originally had only a functional, not culinary, value–it held the filling until the owner was ready to eat it, and kept his hands clean while he did. Sometimes the crust was even discarded, not consumed. Now, the pastie has made it’s way into Harry Potter with an imaginative twist on filling: pumpkin.
When creating my pumpkin pasties, I quickly arrived at a puzzling question: are pumpkin pasties sweet or savory? Traditional pasties tend to be savory, but in the books they are available on the Honeydukes cart–which sells only candy and sweet treats. Instead of choosing between two equally appealing options, I opted to try out both. One savory, one sweet.
I used store bought pie crust, and made the following fillings (all measurements are approximate, I am an imprecise cook):
1/2 can pure pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 can pure pumpkin
1 sauteed shallot, chopped
2 sauteed garlic cloves, chopped
2 boiled potatoes, smashed
salt and pepper to your liking
I made two fancy pumpkin shaped pasties using this little gem, but also baked a few standard circles. For each circular pastie, I laid out the bottom crust and added filling, leaving about a 1/8 inch boarder. Then I placed the top crust on and crimped the edges with a fork. For the pumpkin shaped ones, I simply laid the bottom dough in the mold, filled the dent in the center, put on the top crust and pinched it closed. All of the pasties got an egg wash, and the sweet ones also got a dusting of cinnamon sugar. Easy! I baked the whole batch for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, then removed the smaller circles and left the pumpkin shapes in for another 6 minutes (which was about a minute too long–it oven was a little smoky when I opened the door). The pasties did ooze a bit, but because of my amazing silicone baking mat, they didn’t stick at all.
The resulting pasties were DELICIOUS! The savory ones tasted like jazzed up mashed potatoes mixed with the top of a chicken pot pie, and were a great dinner on a chilly night. The sweet pasties were basically hand held pumpkin pies–I will definitely be reviving those as a fun and easy dessert twist for a party. The verdict: While earwax flavored jelly beans are still a questionable choice to me, wizards really got it right with the pumpkin pastie, savory or sweet.