My Favourite Haunting Piano Piece & Perfecting My Pumpkin Pie

I wish I could throw off the thoughts which poison my happiness, and yet I take a kind of pleasure in indulging them.

– Frédéric Chopin

My favourite composer is Chopin. He was born in 1810 in Duchy of Warsaw. He went to live in Paris in 1831 and never returned to Poland. He died when he was only 39 years of age in Paris. He had always been very delicate in health during his whole life, mainly suffering from respiratory problems and also from some kinds of hallucinations it seems. His health problems did affect his life with despair. Not returning to Poland filled him with melancholy. He never intended to compose music in a “commercial” manner, but all the opposite, he wanted to reflect the soul and heart of man.

All of this was clearly reflected in his music.

My favourite haunting Chopin piece that I have intensively studied and played is Nocturne Opus 27 No. 1. You can listen to it here played by Valentina Lisitsa. I hope you enjoy it. I played it a few years ago and I admit my fingers have forgotten how to do it properly – I’d need a few days to restudy it – but its haunting melody never fails to move me.

When I play a piece, one that I want to really study well and transmit the sensations the best I can, not only do I study the notes, I also study the composer, the time and the meaning behind the piece. I really try to put my heart into trying to transmit the sensations it gives me. I believe it is the best way to render honour to the composer.

In the case of this nocturne, I couldn’t read that Chopin had intended a clear story behind it, but when I played this, I would evoke images of a tragic love, a dark beach at night, a passionate quarrel, death, suicide (this is at minute 3:10 in the video), and then tragically life has to trudge on…

You can imagine how draining practicing this nocturne was mentally and also physically (the middle part was very demanding). Whatever the case, until now it is my favourite haunting piece I’ve played. I have a few more in mind to do, but I still need to find the time and a improve myself a bit more to be able to reach out to the challenge.

Pumpkin Pie

Thanks to Halloween, last night we opened a couple of pumpkins, so do expect at least one more pumpkin recipe soon.

MR PUMPKIN 2014

Last year I made my first pumpkin pie. We enjoyed it but there was an excess of pie filling and I wasn’t very comfortable with the making of the pie crust. This time I adjusted my pie filling proportions. The quantity was perfect. We think the taste was too. With regards to the pie crust, I followed the instructions for everyday flaky dough from the recipe book Huckleberry. Even though I didn’t manage to master the art of making it look like a work of art, this pie crust was great and received a big thumbs up from Mr. H.

Huckleberry specifies two ways of preparing the dough for the crust: with or without a food processor. I choose the method without, because the crust I made last year was using a food processor and I didn’t like making it that way.

everyday flaky dough

Ingredients for the pie crust:

2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 2/4 teaspoon salt, 220g cold unsalted butter, 1/4 cup water

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir. Add the butter and work with fingertips until you get pea sized shapes. Add the water and toss lightly. Put the dough onto a clean surface. Knead the dough but do not overwork it.

Press into a ball and put it in the fridge for one hour. It can also be kept in the freezer for up to one month.

Remove from the fridge and shape into a round form and settle it into the pie dish.

Ingredients for the pie filling:

2 cups pumpkin pulp, 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon grated cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, 2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with a blender until it becomes a homogenous liquid.

Pour into the pie dish on top of the pie crust.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie

Thank you for reading!

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27 Comments

  1. christianliving2014 2014-11-03 at 00:24

    Great but sad write! Recipe sounds yummy! Can I please reblog it so I can try to make it later?

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-03 at 00:26

      Sure you can!

      Reply
  2. Liz 2014-11-03 at 02:44

    Congrats! Slam dunk on your first pumpkin pie 🙂 Love that you get so much out of piano. Beautiful stories. Wish I could hear you play.

    Reply
  3. Bunny Eats Design 2014-11-03 at 04:18

    The recipe doesn’t sound too scary and intriguing that it doesn’t use a food processor. I don’t own such a device so I often avoid recipes that require one.

    I love how music changes mood and your headspace so vibrantly. Apparently this is fairly common of course, but it weirds me out when I meet people that do not like music or find it is just background noise. My boss doesn’t care about music but needs the radio on all the time because he can’t stand silence. It’s a weird contrast. The music I love speaks to me and I feel it in my guts. But sometimes, I need silence too.

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-03 at 09:58

      Yes it is a weird contrast how some people don’t need music at all, maybe it’s because they don’t understand it, or what I have no idea. I know what you mean, I need silence too sometimes.

      Reply
  4. Patty Nguyen 2014-11-03 at 04:23

    Such a lovely post, Sofia. Your pie looks scrumptious. 🙂

    Reply
  5. miwa theresa 2014-11-03 at 09:20

    What a beautiful piece. “Haunting” is a great word for it. I wish I had musical talent! I took piano, guitar and drum lessons as a child but I never really caught on to any of them 🙁 Although I love music!

    PS. The pumpkin pie looks delicious!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-03 at 10:07

      I just visited your last post now, and I think this piece is a bit like what you showed: haunting and beautiful at the same time.
      You did a lot of music lessons! The important thing though is that you enjoy listening to music 🙂

      Reply
  6. Mabel Kwong 2014-11-03 at 09:37

    That pie looks so tasty, I hope it was. I don’t bake too often, but when I do, I never like using food processors to make the pastry. Much prefer to use hand because I can knead the dough to my liking – how thin or thick I want it, and how smooth, if that makes sense 🙂

    So good to hear you’re enjoying piano so much! I think one day I will buy a ticket and see you perform 😉 I love music, but just never got the hang of playing piano at all. Hats off to you for sticking at it <3

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-03 at 10:09

      Making pastry has always been one of my weak spots and I think I’ll make homemade pastry now more often because I did enjoy it. I can see what you mean, with the hands we can knead it to our liking (or I was trying to anyway, lol!).
      If you ever buy a ticket to hear me perform, do warn me in advance so I can practice a lot and do my best 😉 <3

      Reply
      1. Mabel Kwong 2014-11-04 at 12:29

        Good to hear. I’m expecting to see more pastries on your blog soon. I’m sure you’ll do good – more practice, the better you become at making this kind of food 🙂

        No worries. At the end of your piano performance, I will be the one clapping and standing, and shouting for one more song 😉

        Reply
  7. Sunny 2014-11-03 at 14:42

    Nom nom! I’ve made a pumpkin pie from scratch as well, but it’s not something most people here seem to appreciate! Dr. D isn’t a fan of pumpkins at all, so that was the last time I ever made any. It’s sad!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-04 at 10:32

      Oh no! Mr H is a fan of pumpkins, plus he is the official pumpkin cutter and carver, so as he also participates in the “making of”, he also likes eating it 🙂

      Reply
  8. Amanda 2014-11-03 at 20:40

    Pumpkin pie is really one of my favorites. So is Chopin. What a beautiful quote. I like his dramatic Polonaise. I wanted to tell you that we went out to eat at a restaurant called Huertas the other day and they had Barnacles on the menu. They said they were kind of treacherous to harvest and odd looking. I remembered your post “guess what these are”. I thought it was some sort of mushroom. Alas, I got to try them. They tasted like the sea. So good. I wanted to call you in in that moment and thank you! xo

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-04 at 12:42

      Really? You had Barnacles, there in NY? They do look treacherous indeed. I’m glad you had the opportunity to try them and enjoyed them. My favourite “weird” seafood dish is something they serve down in Andalucia: sea anemones. They also taste like the sea but creamier… xx

      Reply
  9. Guillermina Stover 2014-11-03 at 20:52

    Sofia, I’m intrigued. Have you lived in the U.S. of A.? It’s just that I aspire to baking European style pastries and you aspire to baking American desserts…

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-04 at 10:29

      Nop, never lived in the US. But I have researched plenty of pumpkin pie recipes 🙂 Which are your favourite European style pastries to bake?

      Reply
      1. Guillermina Stover 2014-11-07 at 05:11

        Favorite European style pastries–oh my goodness. For starters, Apricot Torte. Frangipane (Danish Almond Cake, similar to Tarta de Santiago), Torta Caprese (Chocolate Flourless Cake), Chocolate Shortbread, Almond Torta. And then there’s Mexican Chocolate Pots de Crème…
        These are all desserts in my own repertoire. I still haven’t tried to prepare the Far Breton!!!!! It’s next on my agenda…as is the Viennese Carrot Cake…

        Reply
  10. Helen @ Scrummy Lane 2014-11-03 at 23:14

    Hi, Sofia! I’ve never made a real pumpkin pie before – I sure wish I could have a piece of yours right now!
    P.S. I can’t believe Chopin only lived to 39 … I had no idea!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-04 at 10:30

      I wish you could pop over and have some too 🙂
      Yes, he did die young! Imagine what more amazing music he would have composed if he would have lived longer!

      Reply
  11. K. / Pure & Complex 2014-11-04 at 21:42

    There’s nothing better than a slice of pumpkin pie. Oh and some ice cream. This is amazing.

    Reply
  12. pianolearner 2014-11-05 at 11:51

    i have never tried a pumpkin pie before, but this does look really tasty!

    Reply
  13. Shamim 2014-11-05 at 22:44

    Oh Sofia! That you can play the piano is just wonderful! I always wished I had continued learning it as a child. And I can’t possibly imagine a world without music. Especially the emotional meaningful music. Loved reading your post.

    Reply
  14. Saskia (1=2) 2014-11-06 at 02:33

    Had no idea Chopin died at 39, how tragic. Nocturne Opus 27 No. 1 is just beautiful. I enjoy reading your musical posts, although they make me sad too as I played piano for years when I was younger then promptly gave it up when I left the family home (pianos just aren’t portable)! One of my biggest life regrets. That is one spooky looking pumpkin Sofia! I’ve never made pumpkin pie and must rectify that one day. Yours looks great, especially that buttery crumbly crust. YUM.

    Reply
  15. Dalo 2013 2014-11-10 at 07:27

    Pumpkin Pie is my absolute favorite…I’ve even made it in Hong Kong many years ago (although the crust/pastry is store bought ~ no way am I trying to make that!). The best, best, best.

    Your pie looks much better, so I will have to try your recipe out the next time I take on the task…which may be a while. In my cupboard I have pumpkin and evaporated milk perhaps from 10 years ago as I thought I’d be making pumpkin at least once a month because I like it so much (certainly failed on that plan!).

    Great musical piece by Chopin, although when I clicked on youtube, I thought it was going to be you on the piano 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-10 at 08:18

      My recipe doesn’t call for evaporated milk so you can use that for something else 🙂 Noo,… I’m still not making videos of myself 😉

      Reply

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