Epic Pumpkin Pie
Ah, pumpkin pie. Sweet, sweet pumpkin pie. It's about time we meet again.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As in tomorrow. So I had to bring you guys a recipe for the most popular Thanksgiving dessert out there. I had to. Because pumpkin pie. Because what is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? It begs the age old question of, "If Thanksgiving passes and you haven't had any pumpkin pie, did Thanksgiving really happen?" I think not. I also don't think that that was necessarily an age old question, but semantics, right?
Here's the thing: I've never actually made pumpkin pie before a few weeks ago. I guess this month has turned out to be one that is full of experiments, collectively titled "trying new things." (Original caption, I know.) Because two weeks ago I posted buttery soft pretzels, and that was another baked good I'd never before attempted. And last week I posted a honey apple galette, and galettes are a fairly new baking adventure for me as well.
But anyway, back to this pumpkin pie.
As I was saying, I've never made a pumpkin pie before, and frankly, I never understood the pumpkin craze that begins the first day of September every year. I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin everything. Or anything. *gasp* Pumpkin bread I understand. Because yum. But pumpkin cookies? Blech - can't stand the texture.
But I knew that with this being the first Thanksgiving this blog is in existence and all, I had to give the whole pumpkin thing a go. So a few months back I experimented with many different pumpkin breads. And posted my favorite last month. And then I moved on to pumpkin pies.
After a bit of research, I experimented with four different pie crusts and four different pumpkin fillings that seemed the most promising. And then, I and a few other people who happily obliged to be my taste testers gathered together and tried them all out. Pumpkin pie party, before Thanksgiving - um, yes please?
Well, my tasters and I settled on a favorite crust and filling. And so, I combined the most popular crust and most popular filling from that fateful evening to create one epic pumpkin pie.
Yep, this pie is EPIC. Even I loved it, and if you can recall what I said approximately 60 seconds ago, I don't love pumpkin pie.
Let's start with the crust: it's the same crust I used last week in my honey apple galette. I actually made the galette after I made this pumpkin pie. What happened was, I discovered this method for making the flakiest, crispiest pie crust (which I greatly expound on in the galette recipe post) and used it to bake up this pumpkin pie. So in case you're a bit confused, I found the perfect pie crust, used it for this epic pumpkin pie, and afterwards used it again to make the honey apple galette. But I posted the galette first. Because 1 - I wanted you to watch the video on how to make the crust before you attempted making both of these desserts, which both require making the same pie crust and 2 - I wanted to post the pumpkin pie as close to Thanksgiving as possible.
Hope I settled the confusion.
Now, about the filling: I've made fillings that require cooking over a flame, fillings that use extra egg yolks aside from whole eggs, fillings with different spice combinations, and fillings with different brown sugar to white sugar ratios.
And in the end, this pumpkin filling was the clear winner. The filling is creamy, just the right amount of sweet, perfectly spiced, and is also quick and easy to prepare. It's a one bowl, one whisk, dump all the ingredients in, give them a good mix, and pour it into the epic pie crust type of filling. No extra egg yolks, no stovetop cooking, and no strange, hard to procure ingredients.
I also opted to pre-bake my pie shell, as this prevents the bottom of the crust from getting soft and soggy from the filling (ech), but rather extra flaky and crispy from the pre-baking (mmmm).
Creamy, flavorful pumpkin filling + crispy, golden pie crust = EPIC PUMPKIN PIE. Oh, and add a dollop of whipped cream to each slice for bonus points.
Epic Pumpkin Pie
Yield: 9-inch pie
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cubed
2 tablespoons ice water (+ a bit more if needed)
2 tablespoons cold vodka
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Crust: In a food processor, pulse together half the flour, the sugar, and the salt. Sprinkle in the cubed butter and pulse till all the flour is coated in butter, you have cottage cheese-like clumps, and the dough is almost homogenous. Pulse in the remaining flour until you get pea-sized crumbs. Do not over mix! (To see a video tutorial, see my honey apple galette recipe here.)
Sprinkle in the water and vodka and pulse a few times until you have small crumbs again. Do not pulse until a dough forms - the dough should still be crumbly. If the dough sticks together when you press it between your fingers, it's done. If it doesn't clump, pour in a drop more water and pulse again until the dough sticks together when pressed between your fingers.
Pack the dough together with your hands, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 40 minutes.
After the dough is chilled, flour your work surface, the top of the dough, and your rolling pin. Roll dough out until it's 12 inches in diameter. Roll dough onto your rolling pin and unroll it into a 9 inch pie plate. Fold the excess/hanging dough back and into itself, creating a thick outer rim. Crimp the edges by placing your thumb on the outside of the dough and your first two fingers inside the dough on either side of the thumb and pressing your thumb into the dough to create each scallop.
Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork and then place the crust in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 F.
Once dough is chilled, gently press a piece of foil or parchment paper into the bottom and sides of the crust. Weigh it down with pie weights, dry beans, or dry rice. Bake crust for 15 minutes, remove the foil and weights, and bake an additional 5 minutes. After the crust is slightly cooled, fill pre-baked shell with filling.
Pumpkin Filling: Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugars. Add in the rest of the ingredients and whisk thoroughly. Pour filling into pre-baked pie crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the filling is set but the top is still glossy and jiggles slightly in the center when pie is shaken. If the crust starts getting too dark during baking, wrap a strip of foil around it.
Cool pie for two hours (filling will continue to set during this time) before slicing and serving. If desired, top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream.
On a completely unrelated note, QUICK: