Sometimes, we may feel the need to bake certain recipes that call for pumpkin purée as a key ingredient. We can use a store-bought version; there are very good quality brands indeed, which are made up of 100% natural ingredients, such as pumpkin and only pumpkin —we will be quite safe using this option, the outcome will meet our needs. However, making our own homemade pumpkin purée isn’t a tough task at all. Besides, it will bring an added value to our bakes, as we would have the chance to use prime ingredients of our choice, which in addition have been freshly prepared.
Generally, I use butternut squash, one of the most popular winter pumpkin varieties in Spain. It is actually highly esteemed due to several benefits, such as its excellent quality, a creamy texture and a sweet and nutty flavour similar to that of a pumpkin (in fact, in Spain, Australia and New Zealand it is considered a pumpkin). In addition, its deep orange flesh yields all sorts of cooking methods, such as: baked, fried, roasted, cooked, steamed, and even raw it is a very nice bite. It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. In short, it is a very versatile vegetable, which we can enjoy most of the year, although it is precisely now, during the months October to February, when it is at its harvest peak.
When using this homemade pumpkin purée in my bakes, I prefer the baking method; it enhances its flavour and colour beautifully, which I personally appreciate in a cake very much. It is so easy to make and the outcome is so outstanding that, after tasting homemade purée, it is usually very difficult to go back to the store-bought version. What, you don’t believe me? See for yourself.
- 7½ oz (500 g) butternut squash or sweet pumpkin
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- Preheat oven (electric) to 390º F (200ºC).
- Using a large, sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half (its skin is quite tough). Remove seeds and stringy fibers with a spoon and cut the pumpkin halves into medium size pieces.
- Place the pumpkin pieces, cut side down, in a roasting pan or a rimmed baking sheet and add 1 cup of water.
- Add 1 cup (240 ml) water and bake for 35-45 minutes until it is fork-tender.
- Remove the pumpkin pieces from the oven and let cool completely.
- Once cooled, scoop out the pumpkin pulp, place it in a large bowl and puree with a hand held blender (you can also use a food processor) until smooth.
- Pumpkin pulp holds a lot of moisture, so transfer it to a lined sieve or fine mesh strainer with some paper towels, a coffee filter, or a cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl. Let drain for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. This process is vital, as any extra moisture could ruin your recipe.
- And now it is ready to use.
It keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.
- In case you ended up with some extra purée, you may like to know that it freezes really well for up to 3 months if kept in an airtight container. The best way to freeze your pumpkin purée leftovers is to store it into individual portions (1 - ½ cupfuls) so that you can use it as you need it without defrosting the whole lot.
- To defrost, simply place your frozen purée in the fridge overnight (the same applies to the store-bought version), but you should use it at room temperature.