Friday, November 12, 2010
(Almost Perfect) Pumpkin Pie
Perfection is such an elusive thing, isn't it? Especially when it comes to baking. And pumpkin pie.
When I say "almost perfect" about this pie, I mean 98% of the way toward perfect. My 2% of criticism is a minor point, really. Easily fixed. I thought it needed a little more cinnamon. That's all. Throw in another teaspoon and yes, this would be THE perfect pumpkin pie (at least according to my tastebuds). Maybe the folks who aren't quite as enthusiastic about cinnamon would think it was 100% perfect as-is.
Of course the recipe came from Cook's Illustrated. Of course! The folks who make it their life's work to tinker with recipes over and over and over and over and over and over.... (multiply that times about 10) until they get it just right.
Thank you, Cook's Illustrated. This pie is definitely Thanksgiving table worthy.
Oh, and just for fun, I'll show you my "photo shoot" from when I made this last winter. Ready for snow yet?
This recipe has some unique steps. For example -
- the recipe uses a 50:50 mixture of pumpkin and canned sweet potatoes. What? I know. Sweet potatoes give a surprisingly nice depth of flavor and no of my tasters guessed the substitution.
- the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and spices are cooked on the stovetop first to drive off moisture and concentrate flavor
- the filling is strained, giving a super smooth and creamy filling.
Happy baking! Hope you enjoy this and if you try it, I'd love to hear what you thought.
Makes one 9-inch pie. Published November 1, 2008, Cook's Illustrated magazine. Thanks so much to Cook's Illustrated for permission to include the recipe here.
If candied yams are unavailable, regular canned yams can be substituted. The best way to judge doneness is with an instant-read thermometer. The center 2 inches of the pie should look firm but jiggle slightly. The pie finishes cooking with residual heat; to ensure that the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator. To ensure accurate cooking times and a crisp crust, the filling should be added to the prebaked crust when both the crust and filling are warm. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream. Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute.
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter , cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup vegetable shortening , cold, cut into two pieces
2 tablespoons vodka , cold (see note)
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt
1. For the Crust: Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
4. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.
6. For the Filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.
Technique - Cooking the Filling
Simmering the filling for pumpkin pie is an unusual step, but its benefits are threefold. First, cooking the pumpkin and sweet potatoes drives off moisture and concentrates their taste. Second, cooking the spices along with the pumpkin allows their flavors to bloom. Third, heating the filling allows it to firm up quickly in the oven, rather than soaking into the pastry and causing the crust to become soggy.