Oh London, do you ever stop? The people hurrying, stressing, sighing in Euston tube station still push and pull at my body long after I’ve escaped into the fresh air. When I’m walking down the high street of my new north London home, neon signs flash in my face, below them are fried chicken joints and late night pizza places; even as I sit here the florescent sign on a 24 hour supermarket beams blue into my bedroom.
Look up at the sky in the folds of the nights and the stars ripple in a yellow spill. Everything is tainted with light and noise and wakefulness.
University motors on at a similar speed. Deadlines are brought forward and reading piles up on my desk, never to be completed, but picked at and eventually forgotten.
A view of London from Alexandra Palace
It’s all terribly, terribly busy. Johnson may insist that when one is tired of London, he is tired of life…but what happens when one is tired in London? Worn by its constant energy that rumbles along with about as many breaks as the 24 hour supermarket over the road.
It seems appropriate then, that tomorrow I’m taking a break from the city. I’m heading home for the weekend, first and foremost to wish farewell to my Australian cousin, but secondly to relax.
In London the seasons move with as much speed as everything else – one day I’ll look up at the trees, bare and blowing in a chill winter wind. It’ll be then that winter arrives, and everything before it will be swept away with the fallen leaves. At home however, autumn likes to make itself known. I know that the walk to Bath Hills will be golden right now, and there’ll be chestnuts scattered on the ground.
I almost wish that I could have saved my Caramel Pumpkin with Chocolate Crust for home now…can you get any more autumnal than pumpkin? In the US they apparently can’t, I just can’t understand how the UK haven’t jumped on the sweet pumpkin wagon yet.
I’m entering this creation into this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge (hosted this month by Nat at the Hungry Hinny), which just so happens to have pumpkin as its magic ingredient: a true stroke of genius and an excuse to step back and bake, something that’s become a very rare event.
I know the joy of standing in a kitchen, apron tied and the clock tickin’ its way around and around with nowhere to go. It is with patience and calm that a baked good is born. No deadlines or buses or neon bright lights need interfere. It’s just me and the cake, and for once, London can take a step back.
Caramel Pumpkin Pie with Chocolate
I’ve taken the pumpkin component from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, with the addition of a chocolate crust AND melted dark chocolate topping…incredible if I do say so myself.
- 180g plain flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 100g vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces (or butter)
- 3 to 4 tbsp ice water
- Rub together flour, salt, cocoa, sugar and shortening or butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Gradually add water, mixing until you can form a ball of dough. Then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. When chilled roll it out and line a 9 inch pie dish.
Caramel Pumpkin Pie Filling
- 225g of sugar
- 170mldouble cream
- 2tbsps dark rum/cognac or apple cider
- 2tbsps unsalted butter
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground ginger
- Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground allspice
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
- Sprinkle half a cup of sugar into a saucepan. Cook until the sugar melts and starts to colour. Gently swirl the skillet until it turns a deep amber colour. The sugar will bubble up and foam and once the sugar is dark enough lower the heat to medium.
- Pour the cream into the saucepan and stir. Add the rum/cider and butter and cook until the caramel is smooth. Pour the caramel into a heatproof pitcher and cool it for about 15 minutes.
- Whisk the pumpkin in a large bowl, add the remaining sugar and beat to blend. Whisk in the spices, vanilla, salt and eggs. Whisk in the caramel then pour into the pie crust.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
- Chocolate Topping
1. When pie is cool, melt 50g good dark chocolate (I used Green and Blacks Dark Chocolate with Ginger) and smooth over the top. Wait for the chocolate to set and enjoy!