Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thanksgiving 101 - The Pie

OK, OK, OK. Alright already, sheesh.

Maple-Pecan Pie

Shell:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour, and some for dusting (I like King Arthur, but Pillsbury Unbleached is good also)
2 generous Tbsp. sugar
2 fat pinches of salt
1¼ stick butter (8+2 Tbsp.) sliced into as many pats as your patience allows. If you are REALLY hardcore, you can replace the ¼ stick w. 2 Tbsp. lard. Either way after cutting the fats small, chill again.
1 egg, separated (beat the white lightly w. enough ice water to make ¼cup; beat the yolk with ¼tsp. of water to make an egg wash)

Put sugar and salt into food processor and whiz until powdered. Add flour and pulse. Add butter (and lard...avoid anything hydrogenated) and pulse until it looks like a coarse cornmeal about 10-15 seconds. Mix in egg white (be VERY careful if you use the food processor, you can end up w. some tough crust...if you are unsure, dump everything into a bowl and use a spatula) until you get a dough. Flatten dough into a rough disk, dust with flour and chill at least an hour.

Roll out dough on a floured surface until you end up with a 13" circle. CAREFULLY drape over a 9" pie plate (I like those glass Pyrex ones), but a nonstick tart pan works also. Trim the edges even and then flute the edges as you see fit (forks, your kids' fingerprints...whatever). Freeze the raw shell for an hour. Take out enough foil to cover the shell completely and poke it all over with a fork. Take out shell and poke THAT also. Wrap and put back in freezer while you preheat oven to 400F. Take out shell and put pie weights over the foil (I use large steel BBs). Bake in the center rack for about 15 minutes, remove foil bake an additional ten, glaze with the egg wash and bake off for one more minute until it's all golden and pretty. Keep warm.

Filling

½ stick of butter cut into 1" chunks
½ cup sugar (superfine is ideal, but regular works fine)
¼ tsp. salt (if you use a coarse salt, make sure you get it down to a fine grain)
3 eggs (large)
1 cup maple syrup (I like the Grade B from Vermont Sugarworks, but you can use Grade A amber...make sure you are using 100% pure maple syrup, not some "pancake syrup" dreck.)
6 oz (about a cup-and-a-half) pecans, crushed coarsely

Preheat oven to 275F. Over a double boiler melt butter; remove the top vessel and then stir in sugar and salt. Beat in eggs fully and THEN beat in syrup. Return to double boiler configuration and stir briskly until the whole thing is nice and glossy. Remove again and stir in pecan bits. Pour into shell and bake about 55 minutes, until the center jiggles SLIGHTLY. Remove and cool completely.

This pie is the perfect balance between firm and lush with a yielding but not squishy texture. Above all else, there is none of that vile corn syrup.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 1:57 PM

5 Comments

  • Blogger blackbird posted at 2:42 PM, November 17, 2005  
    sounds excellent.
    I respect the lack of corn syrup.
    This is no small feat.

    And I don't want to be negative, truly, but the crust seems a wee bit labor intensive...not that that would keep me from baking it next week.
  • Blogger Gina posted at 3:44 PM, November 17, 2005  
    I'm intrigued, and am considering giving this a shot. But the family . . . the family prostrates itself before the pumpkin pies. I would be heartbroken if I did all this work and no one even tasted it. Here's a question: How does it smell while it's baking?
  • Blogger Badger posted at 6:10 PM, November 17, 2005  
    Maple in pecan pie? What is this, some kind of Union-Confederacy fusion bullshit? I could see cane syrup maybe, but maple? That's just wrong. Maple belongs with yankee nuts.

    Ask Kiki if you don't believe me.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 7:00 PM, November 17, 2005  
    I was born in Michigan and now reside in Florida and I am a libertarian. I'll bloody well fuse whatever I see fit. If it makes you feel better, you could use hickory nuts. Still, this tastes better than any other pecan pah out there, so I don't care me and mah different drummer will eat it happily.

    Cane syrup is a hit of sweetness with no additional flavor and the pah is too drah.

    Yes, the crust is pretty labor-intensive. But it is also THE best...buttery, flaky with a pleasing bite, and thus (for me anyway) the way to go. However, you can make it and freeze it ahead and blind-bake it the day of.

    And it smells like what you wished those caramelized nut stands at the fair smelled like. Give it a blob of vanilla-ed whipped cream and you might accidentally sell all your worldly goods on the incorrect assumption Judgment Day has arrived and hit you exceptional benevolence. If nobody eats it more for you.

    Never, but NEVER, under any circumstance will I ever make anything in any manner, way, shape or form that contains even trace amounts of corn syrup.

    -J.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 7:02 PM, November 17, 2005  
    P.S. You could always call it Appomattox Pie and serve it with malice towards none and charity towards all.
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