Sunday, November 26, 2006
It's the PIES! Part 1: the Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving for me really isn't about the turkey, or the stuffing, or anything else- it's the pies! I always make 2 pies, one apple and one pumpkin. Because we were up at Lake Tahoe, I was nervous about the pies. We've done Thanksgiving there before. In past years I made the pies at home, then brought them up. I will never forget the year I made the pies at home on Tuesday night after work (too early), and by the time we were ready to eat the pumpkin pie, it had mold on it. Yes, mold. My mother-in-law (future mother-in-law at the time) had to scrape the mold off the pie. I was mortified. Then there was the year that I used the food processor to puree my pumpkin, instead of the blender. The pie had strings of pumpkin in it. It tasted like pumpkin pie, but was just a stringy mess. But this year I was feeling a little brave. I have a good crust, I've been making pies for many years now. I thought I could handle a high altitude operation. In the end, they came out great. I wish I could find a crust that is as attractive as it is good-tasting. I've found that the flakier my crust, the less pretty it is. But I'm willing to make that sacrifice! Here is my favorite part about this recipe. I was talking to my mom after Thanksgiving, and I asked her what she had made, and she too made a pumpkin pie. But she said she made it differently this year- with molasses. Now the recipe I have is from my mom, from many years ago, and it has molasses. So I'm not sure what recipe she used, or which one she gave me, but this is the one I have always referred to as "My Mom's Pumpkin Pie Recipe". So I will give her credit- this is from the wonderful Mom, with a few things I've learned about pie-making added in.
For the crust: (makes 1 double crust pie, and 1 single crust pie)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold!
1/2-3/4 cups ice water
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces, place in a bowl, then in the freezer. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds. Put the bowl of the food preocessor with the flour mixture into the freezer. Fill a measuring cup with ice water. Take the butter and flour out of the freezer, and add the butter pieces to the flour mixture. Process for 10 seconds- pulsing 1 second at a time. The butter should be big pea size. Dump the mixture into a bowl, drizzle 1/4 cup ice water over the mixture and using a spatula, press the dough together with the water. (This feels like it takes forever, and it does, but you will be rewarded with big chunks of butter in your crust. Remember- big chunks butter=flaky crust.) Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board, and divide into 3 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate atleast 1 hour. You can make this ahead and refrigerate 1 day, or freeze up to 1 month.
When you're ready to make pie, take the dough out to temper a bit before you try to roll it. Spray your pie plate with a little Pam, or vegetable oil. (In theory, this means you could remove your pie from the pie plate before you serve it, because it won't be stuck to the plate (big oooo! factor here), but I do this because I think it helps the bottom brown, and it makes serving easier.) Roll out the dough to fit your pie plate, on a lightly floured board. Gently transfer the dough to the pie plate without stretching the dough. (Stretching is bad, it means shrinkage.) Press the dough along the sides of the plate, and then trim and crimp the edge however you like. I cut the dough 1/2 inch over the edge, then fold it under all the way around, and attempt the little pie crimping scalloped edge. Place the prepared pie crust in the fridge while you make the filling.
For the filling: (makes 1 deep pumpkin pie)
1 1/2-2 cups drained pureed pumpkin
3/4 cups sugar
2 tbs. molasses
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cups heavy cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees on convection bake. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs; add the sugar. In a small bowl, combine the spices. Add the spices to the egg mixture. On low speed, add the pumpkin. Stir in the milk and cream. Pour mixture into a prepared pie crust. Bake at 425 convection for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake another 45 minutes. Cover the crust with foil if it's browning too fast.