Baking for Bookworms: Pumpkin Pasties from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Fall means time for pumpkins, and nothing could be more delicious right now on this cold, rainy day than a pasty. Pumpkin pasties are served from the trolley on the Hogwarts Express, and like most food served on the train are probably sweet. However, since I made a sweet pumpkin drink at the beginning of the week, I wanted to highlight a more savory use for pumpkin.

When Harry and Ron meet on their very first trip to Hogwarts, Harry’s impulse to buy some of every food on the trolley leads the two to become friends. They share in one of Harry’s first wizarding experiences, and even though Ron cannot afford to indulge the same way Harry can, his expertise in matters of the magical world gives him something to share with Harry too. Though the two boys don’t come from the same background, each always has something to share with the others, and they truly are equals, which is a large part of what makes them such good friends. After this pivotal moment, pasties sort of fade into the background, but they are forever associated with this journey into the magical world and Harry’s sense of belonging in it.

In the fifth book, Harry eats pumpkin pasties with Ginny and Neville, who are not his usual companions on the train, but once again the food brings people closer together:

“Ron and Hermione did not turn up for nearly an hour, by which time the food trolley had already gone by. Harry, Ginny, and Neville had finished their Pumpkin Pasties and were busy swapping Chocolate Frog cards when the compartment door slid open and they walked in, accompanied by Crookshanks and a shrilly hooting Pigwidgeon in his cage.”               (188)

Pasties are a whole meal in themselves, and though they take a little bit of prep work, they are totally worth the effort.

For the dough you’ll need:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut in cubes (instead of using both, you can use one or the other, but I find that using both makes it both flaky and gives it good flavor)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (unless using salted butter, then omit salt)
  • 1/2-1 cup ice water (as needed)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a tiny bit of water added for the egg wash (you’ll need this at the end)

For the filling:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound (or a little less) of sausage–you can use pork or chicken
  • 1 pound red potatoes, cut in cubes, you want about two or three cups worth
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F

Make the dough. Combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Cut in the butter and shortening using either a pastry blender, two forks/knives, your fingers, a food processor, or a potato masher–whatever works. You want to break up all the big chunks of butter and shortening and create a fine breadcrumb consistency. Dribble on a little water until the dough comes together. Gather it into a ball and then cover it and stick it in the fridge while you work on the filling.

Sprinkle salt and pepper and the seasonings on the potatoes (feel free to create your own seasoning blend or use your favorite mixture). Drizzle with olive oil and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, set a medium pan over medium heat and sauté the onion in a little olive oil. When the onions are soft (about 4 to 5 minutes), add the sausage and cook until browned and fully cooked.

When the potatoes and sausage mixture is done, transfer to a bowl and add the pumpkin puree. Taste and adjust seasoning if you need to. Adjust oven temperature to 425F.

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Make the pasties: divide the dough into tennis ball sized pieces and roll out. Put about 1/3 cup in the middle of the dough, and then fold half over, using a little bit of water to moisten and seal the edges. Crimp edges with a fork and repeat with the rest of the pasties, putting them on a baking tray, slashing a few lines in the top for steam to escape. If you’re serving these for company, you can clean up the edges by using a pizza cutter, but I think you should just not worry about it and call it a “rustic” touch.

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You can use the extras tomorrow in a breakfast burrito, just add a little scrambled egg and a tiny bit of cheese.

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When the pasties are ready, use the egg wash to glaze the top and then put them in the oven for half an hour. After that time, lower the temperature to 350F until the pasties are browned and delicious looking (about half an hour).

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Let the pasties cool for a few minutes and then serve with your favorite fall cocktail or beverage.

Recipe very freely adapted from this Cornish Pasty recipe from Joan Nathan

What’s your favorite thing to eat in the fall? Let me know in the comments.

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