Lately

I have a few gripes today. First, yesterday Cal played the absolute worst Big Game in the 116-year history of Big Game against Stanford. Second, I was actually there to witness it while having to deflect the (albeit friendly) jibes from my Cardinal neighbors and my anti-Cal fiance. Third, I haven’t had enough time in the kitchen lately. Fourth, it is almost Thanksgiving, and thus almost Christmas and thus almost the New Year – where did 2013 go?

Fall

As we wind down the year, I wanted to share my favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Steph of seasonal taste has been making this pie for a few years now, and I’ve had it every Thanksgiving that I’ve spent in Manhattan. The recipe yields a beautiful custardy texture, free of cracks and dings, and subtly fragrant. The filling is made ahead of time and given ‘rest-time’ to allow the flavors to meld, vastly improving the overall taste. Based on reviewer comments and Steph’s observations, I amped the spice level and subbed all-spice in lieu of the black pepper, as it provides the same kick and some lovely warmth to the pie. I used evaporated milk as it’s non-perishable and I have an abundant supply of it, but Steph has used light cream with great success. Fresh pumpkin is excellent here, but just know that it won’t have as lovely a color as commercial “pumpkin” puree, which is typically an amalgamation of several types of squash/gourd. The WS pie dough is improved with a few added spoons of almond meal, giving the buttery/flaky crust a bit of nuttiness as well. Despite the custard filling, the crust remains flaky and not soggy, even after a couple of days in the fridge. This pie will make your heart (and tastebuds) sing.

Pumpkin Pie
Source: King Arthur Flour pie filling, and Williams Sonoma Pie Dough

Filling Ingredients
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3 large eggs, beaten
2 c (or 1 15-oz can) pumpkin
1 1/4 cups evaporated milk

Pie Crust Ingredients
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbs (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 tbs ice water (more or less as needed)
3 tbs almond meal (optional)

Directions
To make the filling, whisk together the sugars, flour, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together the wet ingredients – eggs, pumpkin, and evaporated milk. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking until combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight before baking.

To make the pie crust, place all ingredients except the water – flour, sugar, salt, butter, almond meal – into a food processor and pulse until small crumbs form. Slowly drizzle the ice cold water into the coarse dough until it slowly comes together. Transfer dough to a flat and floured surface, then pat into a small disk. Dust the disk on all sides with more flour then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into an approximately 12″ diameter circle, and approximately 1/8″ thick. Use the rolling pin to lift the dough into a pie pan, and gently push in the pie crust, trim the edges and crimp as desired. If there are any tears in the dough, simply use some extra dough and water as adhesive, to “patch” the holes in the dough. While this doesn’t yield the prettiest crust, the taste will more than make up for it, I promise. Cover the pie pan and dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the pie filling from the fridge, and strain the filling through a fine meshed sieve. This extra step ensures a very smooth and velvety pie texture. Pour the strained filling into the unbaked pie shell. Place a baking sheet under the pie dish, and place the whole thing into the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the filling is set at least 2″ in from the edge. The center should still be a bit wobbly. The pie will continue to cook as it cools. To prevent cracks, I like to turn off the heat, pull wide open the oven door, but continue to let the pie sit inside the edge of the oven. This allows the pie to gradually cool without a drastic change in temperature, which often causes custards to crack.

Once cool, cover with foil and plastic wrap, and chill before eating. Slice and serve along a dollop of freshly whipped cream or alone in all its naked glory. Enjoy.

Sliced

I recently made this pie for my teaching staff, and my TAs came up to hug me after dinner – the pie was just THAT beautiful. I even convinced my non-pumpkin-pie-loving-fiance, to eat not one but TWO slices of pie. It’s really a game changer.

Full

As you all know by now, I am no good with my hands, terribly un-crafty, and have zero knack at making things pretty. I tried my best to decorate my pie – yes – that is suppose to be a turkey… It’s a saving grace that the pie itself is so tasty that no one noticed the terrible crimping and turkey…

Turkey

I hope to have a couple more blog entries up before the end of the year, and especially share my favorite holiday cookies and most recent eats. Look out for more to come and thanks for stopping by –
AnhD

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