My wonderful friend Renee is guest blogging today (so play nice!). This girl has known me since I was in junior high and still loves me, she gets major kudos for sticking with me during the awkward years and many crushes she had to hear more about that humanely possible. She’s cool, like we use to make up interpretive dances to instrumental music while cleaning the bathrooms at summer camp cool.
Renee Says: I love Harry Potter. It didn’t start out that way. The books became very popular when I was in high school, so I wasn’t going to read those “baby” books.
However, in college, a friend of mine would not shut up about them. So I decided to take a look. And I was hooked.
Since then, I’ve gobbled up as much as I could about the magical world of Harry Potter. It even extended to a pilgrimage to Universal Studios in Florida to go to the Harry Potter theme park. (I actually just invited myself on my friend’s family trip – I became family, too! Thanks Michele!)
But one of the neatest things I have received (outside of the books themselves, which are now well-worn), was a gift of the Unoffical Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz from a dear friend of mine. The subtitle is “From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory: More than 150 recipes for Muggles and Wizards.”
Being firmly in Muggle territory myself, I knew that the first recipe I was going to try was one I had had my eye on every time I read the novels: pumpkin pasties. Every time the little witch with the snack cart came rolling by Ron, Harry, and Hermione’s place on the train, my mouth would water at the thought of a handheld version of my favorite dessert.
So as soon as the cookbook made it into my hands, I flipped to the pumpkin pasties recipe. It looked simple enough. A basic pie crust recipe with a very simple pumpkin filling. Easy peasy.
So, making pie crust looks simple enough. Flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Knead. Plastic wrap. Refrigerate. Aaaaand, this is where the problem lies.
I live in Florida. Not just Florida – central Florida. It’s the armpit of the state. Hot, sticky, sweaty and occasionally stinky. I like to consider myself somewhat of an amateur chef – I know the difference between a food processor and a blender, at least. However, whenever I get to baking, something always, without fail, goes wrong.
I took the pie crust out of the refrigerator, where it had dutifully sat for its required one hour. I plopped it on the counter, pulled out the rolling pin, and… pastry dough stuck to counter tops, rolling pin, fingers, everything. After some choice Muggle expletives, I tried sprinkling the dough with flour, to no avail. My only choice was to refrigerate the dough longer and try again.
A longer chill time, for both the dough and me, proved to be the solution I needed. However, due to my admittedly amateurish baking, the appearance of these pumpkin pasties definitely leaves something to be desired. Lumpy and bumpy, with varying sizes between them, I baked the little buggers. But I needn’t have worried. The heavenly smell of pumpkin and spices filled the house, and 30 minutes later, my family and I enjoyed our delicious, if ugly, treat.
While I will never be America’s next top chef, or even the little witch who pushes the snack trolley on the Hogwart’s express, I’ll always be game for trying new recipes. I really wish sometimes that I could just wave my wand (a stunning replica of Hermione’s – don’t judge me), and those recipes would look just like they do in the pictures. But the fun is in the trying, and the proof is in the pudding.
1 C canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
¼ C granulated sugar
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
(To be honest, I just use pumpkin pie spice and dump in a lot. I love pumpkin pie spice.)
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter and shortening over the flour mixture. Pulse about 15 times until the mixture resembles coarse yellow meal, with no white powdery bits remaining.
Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture. Toss the mixture together with a spatula until it starts clumping together. If it’s too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time (better too wet than too dry). Gather the dough into a ball and pat it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (or a whole day, if you live in Florida).
Combine the pumpkin, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick. Use a saucer to cut out 6 inch circles.
Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of each circle of dough. Moisten the edges with water, fold the dough over the filling, and crimp with a fork to seal the edges. Cut slits to make vents. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 30 minutes or until browned.
Makes 6 pasties
Renee Becker is a middle school language arts teacher and tries to get her students to love reading as much as she does. She writes blog articles for her parent’s business, The Office Helpers, and spends her summers at Phantom Ranch Bible Camp.