‘Round the Table: A Slice of Heaven for the Holidays

Perfect Pie Crust

Yield: dough for two 9-inch pies

  • 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 stick of unsalted butter, very cold and cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 6 to 8 Tablespoons of ice water

No matter how you pronounce it, I think we can all agree, Pecan Pie is a slice of heaven.

Put the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.  Add about half the butter to the processor and pulse several times.  Add the rest of the butter and pulse 6 to 8 times until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of large peas.  Sprinkle the mixture with about ¼ a cup of the ice water (make sure there are no ice cubes in there) and pulse again.  Then add more ice water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition until the dough just barely begins to hold together. Remember, less is more, too much water makes a tough crust.

Transfer the crumbly dough mixture to a clean, flat, dry work surface. Gather the mixture into a mound. Divide the dough into two even-sized mounds. Use your hands to form each one into a disk, taking care not to over-knead the dough.  Wrap each dough disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Remove a disk from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Flour a work surface and rolling pin; roll out dough into 12” circle, approximately 1/8” thick. Keep dough moving to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.

 

To help make a prettier pie, place a 10” diameter bowl upside down on the rolled out crust; use a sharp knife and trim the excess dough leaving a perfect 10” circle; transfer to a pie plate. Do not stretch the dough to fit the plate; make sure your circle is big enough to fit without stretching.  When the dough is fitted in the plate, flute the edges as desired.

Flecks of butter in the chilled pie dough mean a flaky crust.

To make pecan pie, pre-bake the crust as follows: Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Move the baking rack to the lowest position. Place the dough lined pie plate in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before pre-baking. Line the chilled pie plate with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, pennies or dried beans.  Bake until the pie looks dry and pale in color, about 15 minutes.  Remove the parchment paper and weights and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown in color, 4 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack.

Pecan Pie Filling
Yield: enough for one 9”inch pie

  • 6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of pecans, toasted and chopped

No need for special pie weights, dried beans work just as well.

Set up a medium sized double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan filled with one inch of simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.  Melt the butter and then remove the bowl from the heat; keep the water simmering.

Whisk in the sugar and salt until the sugar is absorbed; whisk in the eggs, the corn syrup, maple syrup and vanilla until the mixture is smooth.  Return the bowl to the double boiler and stir until the mixture reaches 130°F. The mixture will be shiny and hot to the touch. Stir in the pecans.

As soon as the pie crust comes out of the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 275°F. Pour the pecan pie filling into the warm, pre-baked crust. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the filling looks set, but still yields to pressure from the back of a spoon like gelatin, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking.

Let the pie cool on a baking rack until the filling has set, about 2 hours. Be sure to place the hot pecan pie filling in the warm pie crust for best results.

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