Monday, November 20, 2017


ph: slw

Most pecan pie recipes call for Karo corn syrup which results in an overly sweet, artificial-tasting pie that bears little resemblance to their 19th-century inspiration. Cook's Country wanted to create a traditional pecan pie without using modern day, processed corn syrup and after much trial and error, experimenting with a host of traditional syrups (cane, sorghum), they discovered that a combination of maple syrup with brown sugar and molasses replicated the flavor profile of old-fashioned pecan pies. 

To ensure the bottom crust was crisp and golden brown, they started the pie at a high temperature then dropped it down to finish cooking. An addition of cream yielded a welcome custardy transformation to the filling. This also made the filling looser, a problem easily solved by adding extra egg yolks. 

To finish off the recipe, they found toasting the nuts before they went into the pie gave them enough crunch and flavor to hold their own in the filling. Here's the recipe.

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie
1 cup maple syrup (grade A)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon molasses
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of toasted and chopped pecans
9-inch unbaked pie shell, chilled in pie plate for 30 minutes
  1. Make Filling: adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450º F. Heat sugar, syrup, cream, and molasses in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Whisk butter and salt into syrup mixture until combined. Whisk in egg yolks until incorporated. 
  2. Bake Pie: Scatter pecans in a pie shell. Carefully pour filling over. Place pie in hot oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 324º F. Bake until filling is set and center jiggles slightly when pie is shaken, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool pie on rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until set, about 3 hours and up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017


ph: slw

It's Sunday and I'm baking pies for Pie Monday, something I initiated at work because, let's face it, everyone loathes Mondays. Yesterday, I baked a double-crust apple pie and an old-fashioned pecan pie. Today, I'm baking a pumpkin pie for the office potluck on Tuesday. 

This recipe calls for caramelizing the pumpkin puree which means that this is a pie whose flavor doesn't hide behind a bunch of spice. You don't have to blind bake the crust because you blast it at 400 degrees the whole time, and bakes in 25 minutes - less than half the time of your average back-of-the-can recipe. You use real milk and cream instead of evaporated milk, yielding better tasting results. Hands down the best pumpkin pie I've ever eaten, even if there are cracks in my custard.

Meta Given's Pumpkin Pie
1 3/4 cups (1 15 oz can) canned or fresh cooked pumpkin puree
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
9-inch unbaked, non-pricked, chilled pie shell
  1. Turn pumpkin into saucepan and stir over direct heat for 10 minutes until somewhat dry and slightly caramelized, stirring frequently. Remove from heat but keep hot. 
  2. Mix thoroughly together the sugar, salt, and spices, and stir into hot pumpkin. 
  3. Beat eggs, add cream and milk, and beat into pumpkin mixture until smooth. 
  4. Pour immediately into non-pricked pastry-lined pie pan and bake in a moderately hot oven (400º F) for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and only an inch circle of the center of the filling remains liquid. Cool throughly on cake rack before cutting.
Note: Perfectly baked pumpkin pie has no cracks on its surface. Baking hot and filling in a chilled crust at 400º F for 25 to 30 minutes produces a smooth and shiny good textured custard and a well-baked crust free from soaking. But if your pie dish is thicker glass or ceramic instead of metal, or you loathe an underdone bottom crust, you might still want to blind bake it a little. 

Recommendation: blind bake at 350º F lined with parchment paper and filled with baking beans or weights until sides are dry and firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove weights, then bake until completely dry and firm (including bottom crust) and starting to turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool thoroughly. Then watch the pie closely as it bakes -- it might be done early, since the cold raw crust isn't there to protect it. And if the edges are starting to look wrinkled while the middle is very jiggly, turn the heat down to 350º F.