Friday, November 19, 2010

Pretty Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Hey Ma-

I love pumpkin pie. I know I love a lot of things, but pumpkin pie places pretty high up on the list of inanimate-objects-I-love-unrequitedly. It's not something we ever ate on Thanksgiving growing up, though, I don't think. Or was it? Did I just not eat it because I was a fool? There were a lot of things I foolishly didn't eat as a kid. But anyway.

For the past few years we have spent Thanksgiving with our dear friend Carl and his mother Hildred. Hildred is the loveliest of hostesses and Carl is a fantastic cook. We bring the pie and the rest of the turkey feast seems to magically appear, delectable and gorgeous through and through. We all sit around, talking and snacking in the kitchen while Carl works his magic until dinnertime. It is a really warm and cozy way to spend Thanksgiving and I feel so fortunate that John and I have found such nice friendships in Carl and Hildred here in California. It is hard to be away from family on holidays, but Carl and Hildred have become key members of our California family and the day feels appropriately festive, familiar and familial all at once. Needless to say, I'm really excited to introduce M to this whole tradition of thanks and feasting (and, you know, in a few years to explain to her all of the political problems with this day).

Anyway, as I was saying, I love pumpkin pie. I'd never made it until last year, though, and it was met with rave reviews. I also made vanilla ice cream to accompany it. I'm going to be making the pie again this year and am considering making bourbon ice cream instead of vanilla. Doesn't that sound good? Anyway, I obviously don't have a picture to tempt your taste buds, but I wanted to post the recipe I used (shockingly, it's from "The Best Recipe" so many of my best recipes are) in case you or any of our dear readers were looking for a fabulous pumpkin pie recipe for your own impending feasts.

I'll miss seeing you on Thanksgiving and look forward to the time when we are all gathered around the holiday table together again. In the meantime, consider this recipe a formal welcome to the holiday season.


Pumpkin Pie
serves 8


pie dough
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface and dough
1/2 tspn. salt
1 T. sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 T. all-vegetable shortening, chilled
4-5 T. ice water

pie filling
2 c. (16 oz.) plain canned pumpkin puree (one of these years I'm going to make this from scratch, too)
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
2 tspn. ground ginger
2 tspn. ground cinnamon
1 tspn. fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tspn. ground cloves
1/2 tspn. salt
2/3 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. milk
4 large eggs


pie shell
1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in your food processor with the steel blade. Scatter the butter pieces in, tossing to coat. Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add the shortening and continue cutting in until the flour resembles coarse cornmeal. The butter bits should be no larger than small peas. Turn this mixture into a mixing bowl.
2. Sprinkle 4 T. ice water over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold until mixed. You can add up to 1 T. more of ice water, but first make sure you can't get the dough to form without it. Shape dough into a ball with hands and then flatten into a 4-inch wide disc. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in saran wrap and chill at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days).
3. When you're reading to make your pie, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature to soften enough to work with. Roll dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 12-inch disc that is about 1/4-inch thick. Fold dough into quarters and place the point in the center of your pie pan. Unfold and press the dough carefully into the pan. Trim edge to about 1/2-inch beyond the lip. Fold the edges and flute. Refrigerate pie shell for 40 minutes and then freeze it for 20. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees with the oven rack in the middle position.
4. For this recipe you are only going to partially bake your shell. Place weights (I just use rice over aluminum foil) in bottom of shell before putting in the oven. Bake until dough dries out, about 17 minutes. Remove weights and continue baking for about 9 minutes, until lightly golden brown. While the crust is baking, make the pie filling.

pie filling
1. In your food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, spices and salt for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring it to a sputtering simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and shiny, about 5 minutes.
2. As soon as you remove the pie shell from the oven, increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Whisk heavy cream and milk into the pumpkin and bring it to a bare simmer. Process your eggs in your food processor until the whites and yolks are mixed (about 5 seconds). With the motor running, slowly (this is key or else your eggs will scramble) pour half of the pumpkin mixture through the feeding tube of your food processor. Stop machine and scrape in remaining pumpkin. Process about 30 seconds longer.
3. Immediately pour warm filling into hot pie shell (if you have excess you can ladle it in after the pie's cooked for 5 minutes and settled in a bit). Bake your pie on the lower rack until the filling is puffed, dry-looking and lightly cracked around the edges with a center that still wiggled like gelatin when the pie is gently shaken. This takes about 25 minutes. Cook on a wire rack for at least 1 hour.

It's sooooooo good...

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