Pumpkin Pie with Shortcrust Pastry | Hocus Pocus

Tis’ the season, friends! Halloween is upon us and while I’m not exactly prepped to go trick-or-treating or even to dress up for a Halloween party, I still wanted to mark the occasion this year with a film-inspired Halloween bake. My deliciously sweet and seasonal pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry seasoned with cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger. This pumpkin pie is decorated with icing sugar and painted to represent the story book at the very beginning of the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.

About the film:

I grew up in a household where a “NO TRICK OR TREATING HERE” sign was about as Halloween-y as we got. Which is fair enough, of course. Halloween isn’t everyone’s cup of spiced tea. 

But, once I hit my late teens and realised my liking for the holiday, I started getting into the (undead) spirit every October 31st. Starting small with a few Halloween films and some themed snacks. It wasn’t until my University years that I was introduced to a true Halloween classic: Hocus Pocus

Introduced by the very friend that I baked my Jack Skellington character cake for, as it happens. Also very appropriate for this time of year! 

Slightly off topic but… where do you stand? Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween film or a Christmas film? Let me know your side on the socials.

Back to business…

In 1993, Disney released a film that would eventually become a true Halloween cult classic. Directed by Kenny Ortega, Hocus Pocus delighted us with the story of the Sanderson sisters: three seventeenth-century witches who were hanged for the ‘crime’ of witchcraft, only to be brought back to life by a teenage boy in Salem… on Halloween night. 

Side note: I’d LOVE to visit Salem. We’re all descendants of witches in some form or another, right? Own it. Celebrate it. 

The Sanderson sisters proceed to wreak havoc through Salem, haphazardly adjusting to life in 1993 in the most ridiculous and hilarious ways. On the hunt for children to consume, this trio of witches pick up right where they left off. Or hung off. 

Max, the boy who accidentally resurrected the Sanderson sisters, works to put things right alongside his adorable little sister, Dani, and new friend, Allison. 

Thanks to the creative team behind the film, including the writers of Hocus Pocus; David Kirschner, Mick Garris and Neil Cuthbert, audiences are continuously delighted by this film, even thirty years on. It’s partly why the sequel was so highly anticipated. Hocus Pocus 2 was a joy in its own right and may well become a classic like its predecessor.

What I love most about this film is the pure joy that it brings audiences, as well as the humour that is well executed throughout. The Sanderson sisters, played by the glorious Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, are the butt of most of the jokes. 

Seventeenth century witches in twentieth century Salem is a recipe for golden comedy moments.

Hocus Pocus gives us just that. 

Alongside this iconic trio, the Hocus Pocus cast included Omri Katz as Max, Thora Birch as Dani, Vinessa Shaw as Allison, and Sean Murray as Thackery. Plus, the ever-talented Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson. 

Now, I despise anything zombie-looking or zombie-related. It’s a genuine irrational fear. So, I can’t actually keep my eyes on Billy Butcherson for more than a few seconds, but that’s more than enough to appreciate Doug Jones’s performance. I also think he’s brilliant in his other works, like What We Do in the Shadows and Teen Wolf

I know I’m a few days early with this bake, but I rather enjoy the build up to holidays like Halloween. The anticipation can be just as sweet as the day itself.

Talking of sweet things…

About the bake:

As Hocus Pocus is set in Salem, Massachusetts, I chose a traditionally American dessert for this bake. An American dessert that is in keeping with both the season and the film. Three guesses what it could be… 

Pumpkin pie is not common in the UK, so this was a really exciting recipe for me to create. I had to do quite a bit of research and focused on a couple of different recipes to draw inspiration from. The first one being a Tesco recipe for pumpkin pie, purely for guidance on measurements. 

The second being a recipe for pumpkin pie by Sally’s Baking Addiction. She talks in her post about how adding black pepper into the filling mixture adds another level of deliciousness, and she is so right. It’s a great tip!

To save wasting anything and for better ease of access, I used the flesh of a carving pumpkin for the filling of my pie and then carved the pumpkin for a Halloween decoration. This is a great way to find a purpose for nearly every part of the pumpkin, but if preferred, you can use a sweet pumpkin.

Another option is to use pre-prepared pumpkin that is already chopped and ready to go, but I wasn’t able to find any locally. A whole pumpkin, I could find locally.

It’s a pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry. A sweet shortcrust pastry!

No copyright infringement intended.

It’s so simple to make and so delicious, especially with the added hit of cinnamon in it. It only needs a little chilling time which makes it even better. 

The key with the pastry in this pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry is to try and find the balance between a super dry base before filling, and a base that is too wet before filling. You don’t want to bake it completely so that it’s bone dry, but you don’t want want it to still be oily before adding the filling.

Find as much of a balance as you can.

As I used raw pumpkin flesh, I made sure to inject some heat through it before putting it in the oven. It spends so long in the oven that one would say it doesn’t need the extra cooking time, but I prefer to air on the safe side when it comes to these things. It’s only a few extra minutes.

If you manage to find pre-prepared pumpkin flesh for your pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry, then simply follow the cooking instructions on the packet before pulverising and adding the remaining ingredients. Better yet, if you find a tin of pumpkin puree, use that! It’ll save a whole lot of time.

Has anyone here tasted raw pumpkin?

I tried some once I’d pulverised it just to see and let me tell you, it’s NASTY. But, once the spices and sugar are added, it tastes just like Autumn: warming and utterly delicious.

I opted for a light brown sugar instead of a white sugar in my pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry because I wanted a deeper, more caramel-like flavour. It worked like a treat. If preferred, you can swap the brown sugar out for caster sugar in equal amounts. 

The same goes for the pastry; I added caster sugar for a slightly more refined taste but you can evenly swap it out for icing sugar. I went for a rugged vibe with the pastry because it suits the theme of the film, but you can make it neater if you prefer.

As for the spices, I added the measurements that I knew would provide a really wonderful taste.

But, they are adaptable. You can forgo the ginger, for example. However, I would strongly recommend that you stick to the recipe for this pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry that I have created, as it really lifts the whole dessert.

When it came to the overall aesthetic of this bake, I considered a few different ideas before settling on this particular decoration. I simply dusted icing sugar over a template that I made by cutting out the lettering in Hocus Pocus from a sheet of baking parchment. If choosing to do the same, remember to leave in the middle of the letters ‘o’ and ‘P’.

To finish, I painted the detailing using black food colouring so that the entire pie resembled the Hocus Pocus story book that appears at the beginning of the film. I wanted to paint this detailing using blackberry juice, but I couldn’t get any fresh blackberries in time. So, my recipe offers either option as blackberry juice is natural and would add a nice zing to the overall flavour.

Top Tips:

  • Note from Feb 2024: I only just stumbled across pumpkin puree in the American section of my supermarket, so I really recommend using that if you are able to find some. One tin should be enough to fill this pie! Follow the instructions on the tin in terms of cooking time, and be sure to sweeten and spice according to this recipe or your taste before baking.
  • If you can’t find puree, stick with my recommendations and process for pumpkin flesh or shop prepared pumpkin.
  • Avoid overworking the pastry – you do not need to knead it! An over worked pastry dough can result in a tough baked pastry.
  • When lifting the template from the top of the pie, make sure to be careful and move slowly. Use a clean cotton bud to touch up the writing if desired.

This pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry is genuinely so tasty and a different option for any of you who were like me: yet to experience the taste of a real pumpkin pie and not just a pumpkin spiced drink. It’s great when served with either whipped cream, double cream or even warm custard. 

Please don’t judge me for that last one… rather, trust me on it. If you like custard, that is. I hope you enjoy making and eating this wonderfully seasonal pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry! Trust the process and go with it, friends. Oh, and happy Halloween!

Happy baking, happy eating!

Ingredients:

Shortcrust pastry:

  • 200g [1¼ cups] plain [all-purpose] flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 125g [4.5 oz] unsalted butter  diced
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp water

Pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry filling:

  • 430g [about ⅔ a regular sized pumpkin] pumpkin flesh OR 1 tin of pumpkin puree
  • 180g [¾ cup + 2 tbsp] light brown sugar
  • 200ml [7.5 oz] double [heavy] cream
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 large (3 medium) eggs
  • Black pepper (in a shaker)

Decoration:

  • Icing [confectioners] sugar to dust
  • Black food colouring (oil based) or the juice of fresh blackberries

Serves: 10

Preparation time: 1 hour

Chilling time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: Up to 1 hour 30 minutes

Cooling time: 2 – 4 hours

Decorating time: 10 minutes

Method:

Shortcrust pastry:

  1. Prepare your pastry first. Grease a 23 cm deep tart tin or pie dish well with butter or greasing spray. Set aside.
  2. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix in with a wooden spoon. 
  4. Tip in the butter and rub it into the flour mix with your fingers, until the texture resembles bread crumbs.
  5. Add the 3 tbsp of water and mix in with your hand until you get a stiff dough.
  6. On a clean and lightly floured surface, roll your dough out with a rolling pin to about ½ inch in thickness. 
  7. Carefully lift the dough and lay into the greased tin or dish and gently press the dough into it so that it is secure.
  8. If making the edges ragged, do so now. If wanting to make it neat, leave the extra pastry handing over the dish: it will likely shrink so it will be easier to trim the cooked edges after baking time.
  9. Chill your pastry in the fridge for 15 or so minutes.
  10. Preheat your oven to 220°C [400°F] or 200°C fan.

Pumpkin:

  1. If using a whole pumpkin: carve the top off of your pumpkin and scoop the innards out. 
  2. Separate the seeds from the flesh as much as you can and weigh out 430g flesh.
  3. Using a food processor or an electric hand blender, blitz the pumpkin flesh until you achieve a soup-like consistency and there is no stringy flesh left.
  4. Pour this into a saucepan.
  5. Blitz any spare pumpkin and keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a different dish.
  6. Heat the pumpkin in the saucepan on a medium heat, until it is hot to touch, stirring regularly.
  7. Leave the pumpkin to cool.
  8. Your oven should be up to temperature by now. Retrieve your pastry from the fridge and place a sheet of tin foil in it, then fill with baking beans or rice to weigh it down. Make sure there is even weight in every part of the inside edge.

Pastry baking:

  1. Put the tin/dish on a baking tray and bake the pastry for 8 minutes.
  2. Take the tray from the oven and carefully remove the foil and baking beans.
  3. Place the pastry back in the oven and blind bake for another 5 or so minutes until the inside of your pastry looks slightly dry, not oily. This will depend on the size of your oven and how hot it runs. I needed 10 minutes for this.
  4. Take your pastry from the oven and leave to the side.

Pumpkin pie baking:

  1. Turn your oven down to 150°C [300°F] or 130°C fan.
  2. Add your pumpkin to a cool mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the sugar to your pumpkin and mix in well.
  4. Spoon in the spices and mix again.
  5. Twist the black pepper shaker a few times over the pumpkin mix and stir in well.
  6. Whisk in the eggs and cream until well combined and an even colour.
  7. Pour the pumpkin mix into your pastry.
  8. Carefully slide this back into the oven and bake for about 1 hour until it is set. Again, this can depend on the size of your oven and how hot it runs. I needed 1 hour 20 minutes for this. If there is considerable wobble to your pie after 1 hour, it needs longer.
  9. Leave your pie to cool fully. This can take anywhere between 2 to 4 hours. Mine was cool after 2 hours as I placed it next to an open window.

Decoration:

  1. While your pie is cooling, prepare your template. Make sure to mark 23 cm across using a ruler so that your lettering will fit.
  2. Draw the lettering in Hocus Pocus onto some baking parchment/greaseproof paper.
  3. Using a scalpel or sharp knife, carve out the letters following your markings. Remember to keep the centres of the ‘o’s and ‘P’.
  4. When your pie is completely cool, place your template over the top. Adjust accordingly and dust the icing sugar over it.
  5. Very carefully and slowly lift the baking parchment up and away from the pie.
  6. Use a damp cotton bud to tidy the lettering up if need be. 
  7. Using a small paint brush and either black food colouring or blackberry juice, paint on the quirky detailing of the Hocus Pocus book. 
  8. Serve with either whipped cream, double cream or warm custard.

This diabolically warming and seasonal pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry is best served on the day of baking, once cool. But, it will last for 2 more days if kept covered in the fridge. Enjoy!

Recipe card:

Pumpkin Pie with Shortcrust Pastry | Hocus Pocus

Laura – Flavour of the Film
Warming pumpkin pie made with homemade sweet shortcrust pastry; spiced with cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice, and decorated with icing sugar and painted detailing, celebrating Disney's Hocus Pocus (1993).
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

For the pastry:

  • 200 g [1¼ cups] plain [all-purpose] flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 125 g [4.5 oz] unsalted butter diced
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp water

Pumpkin pie filling:

  • 430 g [about ⅔ a regular sized pumpkin] pumpkin flesh OR 1 tin of pumpkin puree
  • 180 g [¾ cup + 2 tbsp] light brown sugar
  • 200 ml [7.5 oz] double [heavy] cream
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 large or 3 medium eggs
  • Black pepper in a shaker

Decoration:

  • Icing [confectioners] sugar to dust
  • Black food colouring oil based or the juice of fresh blackberries

Instructions
 

  • Prepare your pastry first. Grease a 23 cm deep tart tin or pie dish well with butter or greasing spray. Set aside.
  • Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix in with a wooden spoon.
  • Tip in the butter and rub it into the flour mix with your fingers, until the texture resembles bread crumbs.
  • Add the 3 tbsp of water and mix in with your hand until you get a stiff dough.
  • On a clean and lightly floured surface, roll your dough out with a rolling pin to about ½ inch in thickness.
  • Carefully lift the dough and lay into the greased tin or dish and gently press the dough into it so that it is secure.
  • If making the edges ragged, do so now. If wanting to make it neat, leave the extra pastry handing over the dish: it will likely shrink so it will be easier to trim the cooked edges after baking time.
  • Chill your pastry in the fridge for 15 or so minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 220°C [400°F] or 200°C fan.
  • If using a whole pumpkin: carve the top off of your pumpkin and scoop the innards out.
  • Separate the seeds from the flesh as much as you can and weigh out 430g flesh.
  • Using a food processor or an electric hand blender, blitz the pumpkin flesh until you achieve a soup-like consistency and there is no stringy flesh left.
  • Pour this into a saucepan.
  • Blitz any spare pumpkin and keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a different dish.
  • Heat the pumpkin in the saucepan on a medium heat, until it is hot to touch, stirring regularly.
  • Leave the pumpkin to cool.
  • Your oven should be up to temperature by now. Retrieve your pastry from the fridge and place a sheet of tin foil in it, then fill with baking beans or rice to weigh it down. Make sure there is even weight in every part of the inside edge.
  • Put the tin/dish on a baking tray and bake the pastry for 8 minutes.
  • Take the tray from the oven and carefully remove the foil and baking beans.
  • Place the pastry back in the oven and blind bake for another 5 or so minutes until the inside of your pastry looks slightly dry, not oily. This will depend on the size of your oven and how hot it runs. I needed 10 minutes for this.
  • Take your pastry from the oven and leave to the side.
  • Turn your oven down to 150°C [300°F] or 130°C fan.
  • Add your pumpkin to a cool mixing bowl.
  • Add the sugar to your pumpkin and mix in well.
  • Spoon in the spices and mix again.
  • Twist the black pepper shaker a few times over the pumpkin mix and stir in well.
  • Whisk in the eggs and cream until well combined and an even colour.
  • Pour the pumpkin mix into your pastry.
  • Carefully slide this back into the oven and bake for about 1 hour until it is set. Again, this can depend on the size of your oven and how hot it runs. I needed 1 hour 20 minutes for this. If there is considerable wobble to your pie after 1 hour, it needs longer.
  • Leave your pie to cool fully. This can take anywhere between 2 to 4 hours. Mine was cool after 2 hours as I placed it next to an open window.
  • While your pie is cooling, prepare your template. Make sure to mark 23 cm across using a ruler so that your lettering will fit.
  • Draw the lettering in Hocus Pocus onto some baking parchment/greaseproof paper.
  • Using a scalpel or sharp knife, carve out the letters following your markings. Remember to keep the centres of the ‘o’s and ‘P’.
  • When your pie is completely cool, place your template over the top. Adjust accordingly and dust the icing sugar over it.
  • Very carefully and slowly lift the baking parchment up and away from the pie.
  • Use a damp cotton bud to tidy the lettering up if need be.
  • Using a small paint brush and either black food colouring or blackberry juice, paint on the quirky detailing of the Hocus Pocus book.
  • Serve with either whipped cream, double cream or warm custard.

Notes

This diabolically warming and seasonal pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry is best served on the day of baking, once cool. But, it will last for 2 more days if kept covered in the fridge. Enjoy!
Keyword american dessert, autumnal dessert, autumnal dish, disney, hocus pocus, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie with shortcrust pastry, spiced pumpkin pie

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