This state-side celebration is no longer simply celebrating American history, it is a time to give thanks for the things you are grateful for and that is something everyone, American or not, can get on board with. Originally a harvest festival, the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This year, the day will fall on Thursday, 22 November, when many people will gather together for a day of feasting, football and family.
The American holiday is particularly rich in legend and symbolism, and the traditional fare of the Thanksgiving meal typically includes turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a holiday tradition which dates back to 1940 whereby a ceremony is held at the White House and the president is presented with a live turkey. Since 1989, during George H. W. Bush's first Thanksgiving as president, it has been an annual tradition for the president to "pardon" the turkey.
170g plain flour
Pinch of salt
100g cold butter
2tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk
145g maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp golden rum (optional)
2 large eggs, beaten
150ml evaporated milk
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Scoop out the seeds and fibres inside the pumpkin. Place skin-side up in a roasting dish with a couple of tablespoons of water. Roast until tender (which usually takes around an hour and a half).
2. Keep the oven on whilst you take the pumpkin out to cool, then peel off the skin, scoop out the flesh and mix in a food processor until smooth. Drain in a sieve for at least an hour.
3. For the pastry, sift the flour into a mixing bowl, stir in the salt, then grate in the butter. Rub in using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir through the sugar. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp of ice water, and sprinkle half over the mixture, then stir together with a knife until it comes together in a paste – add a little more liquid if necessary.
4. Bring the mixture together with your fingertips, and then roll out on a floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Use it to line a 20cm tart tin. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
5. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans, and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the base is pale golden. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 180C.
6. Meanwhile, put 250g pumpkin purée in a large bowl, discarding the excess liquid, and stir in the maple syrup, rum if using, and spices. Taste for sweetness, then mix in the eggs. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk until you have a thick, creamy consistency – you may not need it all. Pour into the pastry case.
7. Bake for about 40 minutes, checking from half an hour onwards, until the filling is set, but still slightly wobbly in the centre. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving.
Take a look at our dinner party guide before you serve to make sure you and your guests have a wonderful experience.