In a recent What’s for Dinner? column (and somewhat buoyed by a chill in the air and a glut of pie recipes,) I declared that pie season was officially open.
The early part of this joyously crusted season has concentrated on savory options such as chicken pot pie and spinach and cheese pie, but now, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is time to start thinking about sweet pies!
In the blink of an eye it will be Turkey Day, so get ready by making some pies to go in the freezer, or at the very least make a few pastry shells that you can have ready for the big day.
On the subject of which pie to make, you definitely need to have a few available as everyone has a favorite: apple, cranberry, pecan, sweet potato, pumpkin—the list goes on and families never agree. Although pumpkin pies feel the most seasonally appropriate, I have never found a pumpkin pie I liked. I so want to find a pumpkin pie I can fall in love with: I’m sure there must be a good one out there for me and I feel almost unpatriotic for not enjoying the ones I’ve tried. So here’s a request: please share your pumpkin pie secrets and let me find “the one.”
Before this becomes a lonely hearts column, let’s get back to the recipe. By way of a contrast with my lifetime of pumpkin pie disappointment, my relationship with pecan pie is a totally different matter. I have never found a pecan pie I did not like. Quite simply, the nutty crunch and chewy caramelized topping, makes it my kind of pie. I love this recipe as it uses maple syrup instead of corn syrup. Here’s a pecan pie recipe that is as easy as… well… as easy as pie.
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling
- 2 tablespoons softened butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 200ml or 7fl oz maple syrup
- 5 oz pecan halves
To Make The Pie Crust:
Measure the flour and sugar into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and mix it until it comes together to form a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. If you are making the dough for another day you can keep it in the fridge for 3 days or freeze. If you are making the pie the same day, pre-heat the oven to 395°F. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and use it to line a 9″ loose bottomed pie tan. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, line with parchment paper and fill with baking beans (they stop the pastry rising up). Bake blind for about 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until it is pale golden and dried out. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F.
To Make the Filling:
Next make the filling, beat the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs, maple syrup, vanilla extract and beat well. Put the pie tray on a sheet pan, arrange the pecan halves over the pastry flat side down. Then pour in the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes until it sets. The filling will rise up during cooking and fall back on cooling. Leave to cool, then serve warm with cream or ice cream while warming your toes in front of the fire.