Cooking On A Budget: Pumpkin Pie and Making Pie Crust

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pumpkin Pie and Making Pie Crust

This photo was taken from my crappy phone in 2011. But I promise the pie filling is outrageously good!

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love wearing warm sweaters, snuggling in front of the fireplace and looking outside at the wonder of Mother Nature.  She provides us with bright blue skies and the most glorious color palate for all to appreciate.  Folks are making the trek up north to view and photograph the beautiful scenery at its peak times.  It’s also a reminder for us that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.

Whatever the traditions are, most holiday tables will be laden with after dinner goodies such as pies, cookies and other specialty desserts.  For me, since childhood there was always pumpkin, apple and chocolate cream pies at Thanksgiving.  Those were the holiday staples in our family.  As I grew older I discovered that there were other traditional pies that filled holiday tables throughout our country.  For people who lived in Southern states it might be a Pecan pie, Cherry pie or a Sweet Potato pie.  That’s not to say that there aren’t dozens of other traditional pies on holiday tables.

I remember growing up watching my mother struggle to make the perfect pie crust and getting frustrated with herself if the pie crust wasn’t just so.  To me her pies were perfect.  As an adult I ended up in the same boat with regards to the pie crust – so frustrated that the dough was too tough and throwing it away and starting all over again!  For some time I gave up on trying to make pies because I was not getting the results that I wanted.  I now have the secret to making really good pie crust and for the most part it comes out so silky smooth and easy to work with.  Now I love making pies!

After viewing chef after chef and reading cookbook after cookbook I learned the absolute essentials to good pie crust.  You absolutely need ice cold butter and ice cold water and when your pie dough is assembled you need to let it “rest” before attempting to roll it out.  When I begin the process I fill a Pyrex measuring cup with ice cubes and water and put it in the refrigerator.  The next step is taking refrigerated butter and cut it in chunks.  I put the cut up pieces in the freezer and measure my dry ingredients and put the dry ingredients in a food processor.  Due to the fact that I use salted butter, my recipe for pie crust is without salt.

Pie Crust:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks butter
½ cup ice cold water

In a food processor pulse the flour and butter until a crumbly mixture forms – butter should be about pea size.  Slowly add in ice cold water and keep pulsing and adding water until the dough is wet enough to form into a ball.  Do not overwork (over pulse) the dough OR add too much water.  Otherwise you will end up with tough dough and the pie crust will not be flaky and tender when baked.

Remove the dough from the food processor and put it on plastic wrap.  Use the plastic wrap to help form the dough into a round disc.  Refrigerate each wrapped disc.  Allow the dough to rest about 30 minutes.  When you are ready, take one of the discs out, wait about 5 minutes then begin rolling your crust on a flour dusted surface.  You should notice that the dough is smooth and silky in texture.  Roll in a circle, from the center outwards. Make sure you keep lightly dusting the surface of the dough and rolling pin.  Rotate the dough and turn it over until you have rolled out the size that you need for your pie plate.  This recipe is for one pie with a bottom and top crust or two bottom crust pies.  Any leftover dough can be rolled out, buttered and cinnamon sugar sprinkled on.  You can then roll up the crust, cut into ½” discs and bake.

Throughout my childhood the only pureed pumpkin was out of a can.  I experimented as an adult with making my own pumpkin puree using locally harvested pumpkins.  Although it was rather fun to try doing it, it is far too time consuming and now I completely rely on the goodness that is in the cans.  Be sure you are purchasing pumpkin puree and not an already seasoned filling.  This is perhaps the BEST pumpkin pie filling recipe!  A friend of mine shared it with me and I use it all the time. This will make one 9” pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
3 eggs beaten
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup light brown sugar
The Best Pie Filling!
1 cup half and half
¼ cup heavy cream

Fill your pie shell and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. Depending on your oven this could take from 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes longer.  The filling should be slightly risen and firm in the middle.

I think you will totally love this pie filling and I would welcome your comments after you have tried it.

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