Autumn being in full swing and Halloween just around the corner, our house is filled with all things pumpkin. We have our carved pumpkins decorating the garden and we’ve already had our fair share of squash soup and roasted pumpkin dishes. Apart from starring in savoury dishes, though, pumpkin can also happily take on a more modest role. As a base for dough or batter in sweet or savoury baking, for example. Pumpkin puree can be used as a natural sweetener in baked goods, but did you know it can also serve as a replacement for eggs and butter or oil? It adds moisture and volume to muffins, pancakes and sticky buns – a good reason to make sure you always have some at hand.
Pumpkins can vary a lot when it comes to flavour and sweetness. With this in mind, many baking recipes use canned pumpkin mash for a predictable result. Since it’s pumpkin season and it would be a pity to waste the opportunity of using them while they’re at their best, I’d opt for freshly made puree whenever possible. Depending on the pumpkins used, though, it’s wise to check the batter for sweetness and adjust the flavouring if necessary. When using the puree to substitute eggs, take 50 grams/¼ cup of puree per egg for best results.
You can always use some leftover mash from a previous cooking session, but if you haven’t got any, it’s quite easy to prepare some on the spot. Below you’ll find a few simple methods to prepare fresh pumpkin puree as a base for baking.
- In the microwave:
This super-quick preparation mode is perfect for the irregular scoopings of a Halloween pumpkin, but also for regular peeled and diced pumpkin.
Remove the seeds and threads and cut the flesh into coarse chunks. Tip them into a microwave-safe bowl, along with a splash of water. Cover with microwave film (or clingfilm with a few holes pierced into it). Microwave on high for 5-10 minutes until soft and mashable. Drain and mash, then leave to cool.
Prepared like this, 450-500 g of raw pumpkin flesh will yield about 250 g puree.
- In a steaming basket:
Prepare the raw pumpkin as above. Tip the trimmed pumpkin scoopings or cubes into a sieve or steaming basket and place them onto a pan with simmering water. Steam the pumpkin for about 15 minutes until soft; then mash.
- In the oven:
When using trimmed pumpkin cubes or unpeeled pumpkin slices, toss them with oil, spread them onto a lined baking sheet and roast them at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for 30-40 minutes.
You can also roast a whole pumpkin or squash instead. In this case, halve it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and threads and brush the flesh with a little vegetable oil. Place onto a baking sheet, cut-side up, and roast at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for about 45 minutes, until completely soft. Scoop out the flesh, mash and leave to cool. This method takes the longest, but adds a wonderful roasted flavour to the mash, plus the bonus of getting to treat yourself to lovely leftover mash for dinner!
Prepared like this, 700 g of raw, skin-on pumpkin will yield approximately 550 g puree.
Once cooled down, your mash will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. You could also freeze it in batches, to be used within 3-6 months.