Harry Potter recipe review: Pumpkin pasties

Pumpkin spice and everything magic

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Graphic illustration by Sunny Li

Seeking to recreate some of the magic of Harry Potter through cooking, I tried my hand at making pumpkin pasties, which can be found on the trolley on the Hogwarts Express.

Sunny Li

“Anything off the trolley, dears?” And so begins Harry Potter’s introduction to the delicious world of wizarding treats. Harry buys a little bit of everything off the trolley on the Hogwarts Express, but, unfortunately, I will have to be content with making and eating just one of the items found on the cart: pumpkin pasties.

Pumpkin pasties are one of the more normal sweets that Harry buys, which also include Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs and Licorice Wands. I decided to make pumpkin pasties out of a longing for fall flavors, combined with my impression of making candy and chocolate as intimidating and complex. Pumpkin pasties were an accessible way to bring some Harry Potter magic into my home. 

With a recipe in hand, I set out to begin making the pasties by first making the shortcrust pastry. I had made pie dough before, so the process was familiar. I do not have a food processor, so I adapted a technique from a biscuit tutorial video by Xiao Gao Jie; I cut up the butter into small pieces while sprinkling lots of dry flour to prevent the pieces from sticking together. In my opinion, this mimics the food processor and helps get the butter into small pieces while keeping it cold, although larger pieces of butter create larger flakes in the pastry. I added pumpkin pie spice to the pastry, inspired by another pumpkin pasty recipe, for additional flavor. 

I rolled out the dough, cut out circles of pastry and filled them with lots of pumpkin.

While I let the dough chill in the refrigerator for a few hours, I made the filling using canned pumpkin, light brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Rolling out the pastry was difficult at first, because the butter in the dough made it solid, and the lack of water caused lots of cracks. I cut out shapes using a bowl as a guide, and spooned on pumpkin filling. I tried to fold up the pasties like empanadas to create a pretty edge, but I could not figure it out and had to get my mom and sister to help with that. However, all that work went to waste after baking the pasties, since the edges spread and lost their shape as they baked. 

The pumpkin pasties were a lovely golden color and smelled delicious as they came out of the oven.

As the pumpkin pasties came out of the oven, I was very excited to try them because they were a lovely golden color from the egg wash and smelled like pumpkin pie spice and autumn. Unfortunately, I was disappointed upon tasting the filling. Since the filling only had pumpkin, sugar and spices as its ingredients, it was not as rich or creamy as I had expected. In fact, it tasted slightly watery. The saving grace of the pumpkin pasties was the pastry, which was flaky and delicious. Eating them left lots of crumbs behind, although with magic to help clean up, this probably would not be an issue on the Hogwarts Express. 

I was disappointed with the results of my pumpkin pasties. Reading about and seeing them in the books and movies gave me high expectations of buttery pastry enclosing a thick, luscious pumpkin filling, but my filling was not up to par. If I were to make this again in the future, I would add condensed milk to the filling or reduce the pumpkin puréee to concentrate the flavors.