At this point, it feels almost redundant to say that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I mean, most of my generation is—we grew up reading the series, going to midnight premieres, and living in a worldwide obsession of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As I get older, I still find so much comfort and meaning in reading the books and interacting with the enduring fan communities, like that of Harry Potter & The Sacred Text.
I’m rereading the series for the umpteenth time. Of course, I always get extra excited about all the magical food and drinks. A few years ago, I hosted a dinner with friends and made a few inspired treats, intermingled with some British staples of a Sunday roast.
But… I didn’t write any recipes down. I can recall just a few details of a pumpkin juice that tasted exactly like what I imagined or the aspects I wanted to change about the treacle tart. Since I can’t just wave a wand and make all of it appear again, I’ve decided to recreate my versions of the fictional favorites from Harry Potter—starting with how to make pumpkin pasties.
Curried Pumpkin Pasties
Last time I made pumpkin pasties, I came across a post from Bijoux & Bits where she made a sweet variety along with a savory one. The idea stuck with me, and I started thinking about what kind of flavors would be used in a snack like this one. It came to me almost immediately: curry. England has a reputation for their curry houses and tikka masala love—it makes sense that if pumpkin pasties were savory, they’d probably be spiced with an Indian-style curry blend.
So I started with a pie pumpkin (also called sugar pumpkins), which are meant for baking as opposed to the gigantic squashes that we carve up for jack-o’-lanterns. You could absolutely use sweet potatoes or butternut/acorn squash if pie pumpkins aren’t available. It should be roasted just until it’s soft and can be cubed, but not so much that it turns to mush when it’s mixed with sauteed onions and toasted curry powder. After baking, these pasties totally resembled baked samosas, with their super buttery crust and the warm, spiced squash filling. Perfect autumn snack!
I have to be totally honest though: I don’t actually think pumpkin pasties are savory. Although I’d love to think that the kids had a savory, salty snack thrown in with all the treats, it seems like most of the witches and wizards in the books have major sweet tooths. So I made a sweet version as well!
Sweet Pumpkin Pasties
Okay, let me come clean. This recipe uses half of a pumpkin for the curried pasties and a portion of a can of pumpkin puree for the sweet. It’s a crime, I know. Why did I commit this atrocity, you may ask? It came down to my stubborn imagination of a realistic shelf-stable sweet pasty. Pastries with diced veggies in them just aren’t going to stay fresh and edible for as long as ones with pureed fillings potentially could.
I know what you’re thinking: why not just puree the second half of that pumpkin we just roasted? I’ve got an answer for that too. Canned pureed pumpkin is actually made of closely related varieties of squash that have more concentrated sweetness and the “pumpkin” flavor that we’re familiar with, more so than the sugar pumpkins that you can find in stores. Sure, you could totally blend that other half and use it for your sweet pasties—but I strongly prefer the canned stuff when it comes to pumpkin puree. Don’t worry though! The other half of the roasted pumpkin is an excellent addition to cooked grains or pasta, chili, or a creamy pumpkin soup. The remainder of the canned puree can be used to make pumpkin juice or in any of these great suggestions.
For the spices in the sweet pasties, I didn’t want to just sprinkle in some pumpkin spice blend and call it good. I wanted these pasties to be lighter and brighter than the standard pumpkin pie filling. Yes, I did use cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but the warmer flavors are balanced with zingy ginger and floral cardamom. Make sure you taste your filling—you can always add more of the spices to your taste!
Okay, so we’ve made our filling and you’ve already prepared your pie crust (of course!). Now comes the hard part: crimping. I did a lot of research on Cornish pasties for this recipe, and found that there are two crimping styles: the top crimp and the side crimp. I loved the way the top crimp looked, but I think side crimping might be a tad more tradish. I compromised and crimped the savory pasties on the top and the sweet pasties on the side. If crimping by hand isn’t your forte, try the top crimp first as I had an easier time with it. If it’s still not working out, go back to folding them on their side and press the edges with a fork to seal. Don’t stress—do what works best for you!
I’ll be honest, my kitchen was warm on the day I made my pumpkin pasties. I kept all of the pie dough chilled except for when I was working with portions of it. Still, when it came time for crimping, it felt like the dough was “melting” almost immediately. It made getting a good seal on the pasties more difficult and the final product didn’t look as cute as they could have on a cooler day. One small way to avoid getting the dough too warm while you prepare the pasties is to dip your hands in cold water and dry them thoroughly before working with the dough. On the plus side, I made King Arthur Flour’s recipe using my food processor and, even though conditions were less than ideal, they still came out so flaky and buttery. I can’t recommend that recipe enough!
Curried & Sweet Pumpkin Pasties Recipe
Makes 8 curried and 8 sweet pumpkin pasties (16 total)
Curried Pumpkin Pasty Filling
- 1 small pie pumpkin, about 2 lbs
- Oil, to drizzle
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 1 ½ tsp. yellow curry powder*
- 2 tsp. honey
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the tough stem off of the pumpkin and cut it in half.
- Scoop out the seeds** and stringy “guts.” Place cleaned halves on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and flip cut-side down.
- Roast on the middle oven rack until a knife slides through the skin and flesh with slight give, about 30 minutes.
- Carefully flip pumpkin halves over to allow steam to escape and prevent continued cooking of the pumpkin flesh. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
- Remove the pumpkin skin (it should peel off easily when pulled). Cut 1 half of the pumpkin flesh into small cubes, about 1/2-inch (you should have about 2 cups). Reserve the remaining pumpkin half for other uses.
- Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sweat until transparent and softened, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add curry powder. Toast until very aromatic, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cubed pumpkin and honey.
- Season with salt & pepper to taste and let cool to room temperature.
Sweet Pumpkin Pasty Filling
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (or freshly grated on a microplane)
- 1/16 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/16 tsp. ground allspice
- In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- 2 unrolled pie crust doughs (enough for a double crusted pie)
- 2 eggs, beaten (for egg wash)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375°F.
- Split each dough into 8 portions (16 portions altogether) and form each portion into a ball. On a floured surface, roll one ball at a time into a 6-inch circle (don’t worry about them being perfectly round). Keep all the dough except the portion you’re working with chilled.
- For 8 of the circles, fill with 2 heaping tablespoons curried pumpkin filling. Brush edges of circle with beaten egg, fold, and crimp edges to seal. Keep any prepared pasties chilled until ready to bake.
- Repeat with remaining 8 circles, using 2 scant tablespoons of sweet pumpkin filling per pasty.
- Place prepared pasties on baking sheet and brush the outsides all over with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. These are best when eaten within a day, but you can store leftovers in the refrigerator and re-crisp in a warm oven.
* There are so many curry powders. I stuck to a “standard” Indian-style blend (Spice Islands Yellow Curry Powder). Mine was pretty cumin-heavy, so I added 1/2 tsp. coriander and 1/8 tsp. ground ginger to the pumpkin mixture to brighten it up. Feel free to use your favorite bottled or homemade curry blend!
** To roast pumpkin seeds, rinse off all of the pulp and let them dry on a baking sheet. Drizzle them lightly with oil and salt or season as desired. Roast in a 375°F oven until they start to brown, about for 10 to 15 minutes (shaking the sheet every 5 minutes or so). Let cool and get snacking!