Although South African September isn’t the same crimson-leaf-and-pumpkin-spice month as the US, the comforting flavours of spooky season still have a big influence on our baking culture. It’s virtually impossible not to be tempted by the trending pumpkin bakes that have taken over social media – everything from maple-glazed pumpkin blondies to pumpkin spice crumble cakes and snickerdoodle pumpkin cookies.
While we may not have easy access to tinned pumpkin puree in South Africa, that doesn’t mean we can’t partake in the deliciousness! Here’s how to make homemade pumpkin puree from scratch for all your spooky season MiniMakes bakes.
What is pumpkin puree?
Pumpkin puree, as you may have already guessed, is simply cooked pumpkin that is blended until super smooth. In the US, it’s conveniently available as a tinned product.
Baking with pumpkin puree
One of the key things to keep in mind when baking with pumpkin puree is its moisture level. Whether using a tinned or homemade version, you want to remove as much excess liquid from the puree as possible so that it doesn’t alter the texture of your finished bakes. To do so, either blot it dry with paper towel or place the puree in a lined sieve to allow the excess liquid to drain away (more info below).
How to make pumpkin puree from scratch
The best way to make pumpkin puree is to roast a halved pumpkin cut side-down until soft, and scoop out the flesh for blending – the heat from the oven removes a lot of the excess moisture from the pumpkin which is ideal (see above).
However, considering we are impacted by loadshedding in SA (and the fact that small whole pumpkins aren’t as easy to find here), we’ve opted for a steaming-based method.
- CHOP a 500g pack of prepared pumpkin pieces into smaller cubes similar in size.
- PLACE in a saucepan and fill with about 2-3cm water.
- COVER AND SIMMER over medium heat until you can easily pierce the pumpkin with a sharp knife – this will take about 15-20 minutes. Make sure to toss the pumpkin every so often so that it cooks evenly and to top up the water level if necessary.
- DRAIN the pumpkin and then place back in the hot pot, uncovered, to allow any excess liquid to steam away. Leave until cool.
- BLEND the cooled pumpkin in a high powered blender or Nutribullet until super smooth and silky, scraping down the sides of the jug as necessary. (Mashing with a fork won’t make the cut here).
- PLACE a sieve over a large bowl and line with cheesecloth or a few pieces of paper towel. Scoop the puree into the lined sieve and set aside for at least 20 minutes for the extra moisture to drain away – the longer the better. You can replace the paper towel, if using, if it becomes too saturated.
- USE the puree immediately, store in the fridge or freeze for a future bake day.
NOTE: 1 X 500g pack of pumpkin will yield about 250g puree
Put your homemade pumpkin puree to good use in our Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes or this Pumpin Patch cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing! Follow us on Instagram for more delicious recipe inspiration, baking tips and more.