The surprising European origins of Pumpkin Pie

On Halloween, America The Cookbook reveals how the French and the Brits helped create the US dish
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Pumpkin Pie as featured in America the Cookbook
Pumpkin Pie as featured in America the Cookbook

The pumpkin is an American plant. Pumpkin pie, served at Halloween and Thanksgiving, is a distinctly North American dish. Surely then, the recipe must be an American invention? Yes and no, as our new publication, America The Cookbook, explains.

“Pumpkins are native to North America but the custard element of this famous open-crust pie likely evolved from French and English pie traditions and came back across the Atlantic with 17th and 18th-century settlers,” says the accompanying text.

Pumpkins, or ‘pumpions’ as they were once called, came to Europe during the 16th century, were introduced to Tudor England by the French, and were incorporated into pie fillings quite quickly. English recipes for a pie similar to those cooked in the US today can be found in 17th century English cookbooks such as The Gentlewoman's Companion, and English Pilgrim settlers to the New World were probably as familiar with pumpkin cookery as their Native American counterparts.

 

America The Cookbook

While the dish’s popularity waned in Britain, US cooks made the dish their own, adding newer confections, such as pre-ground pumpkin spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves) and canned, sweetened, puréed pumpkin flesh, to create the pies we love today.

For the definitive pumpkin pie recipe, and more on the surprising routes some recipes have taken to end up on the plates in the US, as well as plenty recipes, both home grown and recently imported, order a copy of America The Cookbook, here. And wherever you are, Happy Halloween!


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