Would Thanksgiving be complete without the traditional pies–pumpkin, apple and, of course, everyone’s favorite rich and flaky Southern confection, pecan pie?
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ t salt
2 t sugar
6 T cold butter cut into 1T pieces
2 T Crisco
3 – 5 T ice water
Pace flour, salt and sugar in food processor bowl. Pulse to mix. Place butter and Crisco around bowl and pulse until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Sprinkle 3 T ice water around bowl. Pulse briefly. If mixture has not begun to come together add 1 more T ice water. Mix again until a ball starts to form. Stop processor. Take out mixture and pat into a round disk on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap around disk and refrigerate for at least ½ hour.
Roll out dough and fit into a 9-inch tart pan (with a removable bottom) or a pie tin. If tart pan, make edges thick enough so they will not shrink or collapse when baked. If pie tin, lap edge over ¾ inch, fold under and make a decorative edge. Place tin in freezer while you make the filling.
2 ½ cups pecan halves
4 large eggs
½ C sugar
1 C dark corn syrup
½ C light corn syrup
1 t pure vanilla extract
whipped cream for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coarsely chop 1 ¼ cups pecans; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Whisk to combine. Add corn syrups and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Add chopped pecans, and stir. Pour into tart shell.
Arrange remaining 1 ¼ cups pecan halves decoratively on top of tart and bake until crust is golden, filling is firm, and a cake tester inserted in center of tart comes out clean—about 50 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. Serve with whipped cream. (Photo by sweetpapika.)
Victor Basks in Pie Heaven
I don’t know about you, but my Mom never placed a pie on the window sill to cool. That probably wouldn’t have been a good thing to do in Brooklyn. However, she was – and is – an avid pie baker. And even if the intoxicating aromas of her pies didn’t waft through the neighborhood, they certainly did permeate the house, as well as our hearts, especially this time of year. They still do.
Very little says “comfort food” the way a home-baked pie does. For me it evokes memories of holiday celebrations, special occasions or even cozy nights of copious cups of old fashioned, perked coffee and conversations around the kitchen table. And as the saying goes, “easy as pie” is fairly accurate. A pie, to some, feels somewhat intimidating to make. It’s not really. Like all good crafting, it takes some practice. Trial and error with the crust, mostly. But once you have a feel for it, you’ll be making all your favorites with almost no effort at all.
Favorites. Yes, everyone has their pie heaven. For me, it’s most assuredly the pumpkin pie. Something about the sugar and spice and everything custard and nice. I simply insist on this standard for Thanksgiving, at the very least. Whether it’s traditional or a spin off featuring praline pecans. Serve it to me solo, with a dollop of whipped heavy cream or a la mode. I’m always game for at least two slices.
Another one of my joys is the all American apple pie. I recounted a few blogs back my annual apple-picking trek to Upstate New York. Well, the majority of my harvest is always delivered to my Mom’s house. Then she works her magic, creating her famous pies, some two crusted, some topped with cinnamon laced crumbs. Everyone waits in mouthwatering anticipation for them, as they are gifted to family and friends with a loving note. And love is the operative word here, because when it comes to baking a pie, affection is always the key ingredient.
So, are you a seasoned pie baking professional or a beginner? For the aficionados, please keep it up. You’re bringing such bliss and delight to all your guests – and even to the world – with your home- baked creations. There’s something so homestead about it all. And our society needs a little more of that spread around. To the pie baking rookie, I recommend starting with the basics. Apple, blueberry, pumpkin. Guess you can use a pre-made crust dough. They’re easy enough to find. But take it from me; they don’t taste the same as a kitchen original. And they usually use lard. Instead, get your hands on a good recipe (I recommend Phyllis Kirigan for guidance) and take a leap of faith. Whether you’re using shortening or butter, be sure that you keep things as cool as possible. Ice water for incorporating the crust is a must. And remember, a little moisture at a time. You can always add more water if a bit too crumbly and dry. Adding more flour to a sticky dough and then over kneading it can produce a tough crust. That doesn’t work for anybody.
OK, so get your pie recipe handy. And start to bake.
Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm
Written by Victor Ribaudo http://theribaudogroup.com
Recipe Provided by Phyllis Kirigin, https://sweetpaprika.wordpress.com
Food Stylist http://www.preston-campbell.com
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