Some will argue that summer is the pinnacle of pie season. All that fresh fruit… blueberries, raspberries, rhubarb – you could make pies galore! But for many, autumn will always spell the beginning of a pie time of year, when the weather is cold and a rich, flaky pastry crust filled with a creamy, sweet confection finally feels just right.
Pumpkin Pie epitomizes this sentiment, from the moment it is conceived in the weeks leading up to Halloween when the deep orange pumpkins of fall just start to ripen. Then, as November arrives and Jack-O-Lanterns are discarded, pumpkins find a new purpose in our meals, as they are pureed into soups, mashes, breads, muffins, and pies. Hundreds of years ago, Native Americans brought the finest pumpkins of their harvest as gifts to the New World settlers, and in the present-day now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pumpkin pie missing from your table on Thanksgiving. But after trying this Pumpkin-Ginger pie recipe from Locanda Verde’s pastry chef Karen DeMasco, you’ll want this pie front and center of your dessert buffet for every holiday party, Christmas dinner, and New Year’s celebration that’s to come this year. Because nothing says decadence quite like a classic pastry with a modern twist – and that is what this pie is all about.
To start, you’ll need to spend a little time at your local grocery store, gathering all sorts of magical ingredients. You’ll need:
INGREDIENTS for the Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup lard, cold
INGREDIENT for the Filling:
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
- 1 tbs. finely grated ginger
- 1 3/4 cups fresh pumpkin (or 15-oz. canned pumpkin purée)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/2 tsp. fresh nutmeg
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
Then, get to work making your own pie crust. Sure, you could go store-bought, but why? I promise, this takes less than 20 minutes to make, and is way easier than any pastry-making trials and tribulations you may have heard in the past.
To start, place the flour, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and lard, and mix with a pastry blender or fork (or even cut the butter into small pieces with two knives – trust me, you can work with what you’ve got!) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1/4-cup ice water, using your hands to mix the dough together. Then, on a clean surface, shape the dough into a flattened disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Once the dough has chilled in the fridge (and feel free to leave it in the fridge as long as overnight – I did, and it worked out great), roll out the dough into an 11-inch round on a floured surface. Center the dough on a 9-inch pie plate, pressing into the edges, and trim the dough to the rim. Then, stick the dough-covered pie plate back in the fridge and chill for 10 more minutes. In the meantime you can shape the remaining scraps of dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate those too. They’ll come in handy later Oh, and go preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Once your pie crust has chilled out in the fridge, bring it back front and center, and get ready to bake! Line the pie shell with a round of parchment paper or foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Then, fill with pie weights. Or, if you are a normal home cook and are saying to yourself, “Pie-weights, what-now?” go get some dried beans or lentils out of your pantry and fill the parchment-lined pie shell with those. Us home cooks are nothing if not resourceful.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes until the edges begin to turn golden. Remove the parchment and pie weights, er, lentils… And return the crust to the oven to continue baking for about 10 more minutes until it appears to be flaky and golden. You know, like a pastry… Right… Now the crust is done, so set the whole pie plate on the table or a wire rack and let it cool completely. There’s still a bit to do, so you’ll have plenty to keep you busy while the crust cools.
Now, it’s time to make the filling! This filling is what makes this pie phenomenal – it has a few secret (well, not any more…), irresistibly scrumptious ingredients that kick it up a few (…thousand…) notches and make it the most unique pumpkin pie you’ve ever had.
Now look. By now you’re probably thinking, “This seems like wayyyy to much work on to of everything else I have to cook for this holiday dinner party. Costco’s got a great pumpkin pie and no one has ever complained about a Costco dessert.” I know it’s easy to go out to the store and buy a pumpkin pie. Maybe even a gourmet, special, different pumpkin pie. But, humor me while I give you a short scenario. A certain family member of mine dug the last, slightly smushed, left over slice of this pie out of the fridge last night, five days after Thanksgiving, the day on which it was made and served, and after a week of hanging out in the not-always-friendly-fridge, the pie was still able to elicit the following response:
“So I finished the last ample slice of pumpkin pie last night, and after the sensory overload subsided, it knocked my socks off! The ginger came fizzing through!”
That’s right – GINGER. Also, maple syrup. Ready to venture onward? Okay – let’s go!
First, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Gather your filling ingredients, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and whisk around a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, cream, maple syrup, brown sugar, and ginger together until well combined and smooth. In a second bowl, mix the pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt until that’s smooth, too; then add the egg mixture in, and whisk to combine.
That’s it! Pour filling into cooled pie shell, and give yourself a pat on the back! The hard part is done.
Now, if you want to get decorative, DeMasco recommends the following: Roll out the refrigerated disk of dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Using a 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out 40 pieces of dough. Once the crust is cool, fan and press the cutouts to form a lip around the edge of the crust. Chill the cooked crust lined with cutouts for 10 minutes.
I went with a festive leaf cookie cutter to make the rim. Despite the aroma and taste of this pie, let’s face it – we’re all visual creatures, so I definitely recommend taking the extra 15 minutes to cut out some holiday pastry shapes and dressing your pie up a bit.
Bake the pie on the center rack of the oven for about 60 minutes (rotating after 30 minutes) or until the center has a slight jiggle. Serve each slice with some freshly whipped cream, such as DeMasco’s brandy whipped cream, which includes 2 cups heavy cream, 2 tbs. sugar, and 1/4 cup brandy, or something simpler, like heavy cream, a dash of confectioner’s sugar, and some vanilla extract.
So, there you have it! A quick and easy (okay, so not really at all, but really, what good things in life are?) Pumpkin-Ginger-Maple-Brandy-Heaven-like-presents-under-a-fresh-pine-tree-Christma-hannuk-kwanza-practically-perfect-in-every-way Pie (in the sky). But who needs superlatives? The proof is in the pudding (read: pie filling), and in the smiles of pure bliss that will surely overcome your guests’ faces when they dig into a slice of this goodness this holiday season.
Read Full Post »