It’s been a week since Thanksgiving, and I am still fatigued. I’ve maintained a must-have relationship with my kitchen since Thursday. In and out, with only little visits in between. Hopefully my kitchen fatigue goes away soon or else I will miss out on the holiday baking of the season. Last year, I went a little nuts and literally baked everything in sight. This year, I simply don’t have enough time and energy to bake up a storm.
With my birthday, graduation, and Christmas coming up in a few weeks, I am trying to balance my time accordingly but there are lots of things that are demanding my attention that I simply can’t ignore (finals! papers! group projects! finding a new job!). So, I will try to post regularily, but they will be shorter, sweeter, and more picture heavy to make up for the shortened posts.
For Thanksgiving, I was asked to prepare all the desserts. ALL. THE. DESSERTS. FOR. 20. PEOPLE.
Yes, I was a little nervous, especially since these folks love my baked goods (silly fools). I spent the days before researching and picking out my desserts. I knew I wanted to bake a cheesecake (coming soon!) because who doesn’t love cheesecake? I wanted to make something kid friendly (rocky road bars, coming soon). And I also felt the urge to attempt my first pumpkin pie.
Yup, I was a pumpkin pie virgin but not anymore. I used Dorie Greenspan’s Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie recipe from my favorite Baking: From My Home to Yours. I want to meet Dorie and give her a big hug because all of her recipes have turned out great. I have had a 99% success rate with this book and it’s the only one that I trust without a doubt.
The filling was really good because of two things: texture and taste. By now, you know I am a texture freak and I wanted this pie to be firm but not hard to the touch. And the heavy cream gave it a velvety feel. Silky and creamy yet smooth, the filling was good enough to eat on its own. Which I did. Numerous times… And the flavor of the filling was balanced perfectly. Not too sweet and not too pumpkin-y. If I knew pumpkin pie could be so good, I would’ve made this years ago! Next time around, I’d amp up the rum because you couldn’t taste it all. No, I don’t have a booze problem, I just like rum’s flavor in baked goods.
I still have issues with crust but I blame that on my stupidity. I abhor shortening, and yes I know that it gives pie crusts a welcomed flaky bite, but I don’t care. I prefer butter, butter all the way… So I knew that I would sub the shortening with butter, but I didn’t think about the different ratio of fat that this pie crust would have sans shortening. If I had known, I would’ve used an all-butter recipe, but instead I just tossed in extra butter and hoped for the best…
Oh well. The crust was still yummy. The recipe called for the pie to be baked for 33 minutes, but if you prefer a crispier, golden crust, then bake it longer. My crust wasn’t as firm as I wanted and lacked that golden color I wanted, but taste wise, it was good. I almost had a near-disaster moment while baking this pie though. Good thing I have reflexes like a cat because while I was holding the baking pan in the oven, the pie plate slided off, almost landing face down on the oven rack. But I swooped in, crying with relief before the entire pie smashed in the hot oven. The only sign of trouble evident on the pie was this little dent in the pie crust.
I think I was the only one who noticed the less-than-perfect crust because everyone grabbed a slice the minute the pie hit the table. Everyone loved how it tasted, and trust me, these people are hard to please. I was glad that the pie wasn’t too sweet because lately, my sweet tooth has been a little sensitive but if you prefer a sugar rush, scoop some vanilla ice cream on top of that slice, and call it a day.
Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie
Origin: Baking: From My Home to Yours
Yield: makes 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 to 55 minutes
● 1 9- inch single crust made with Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough (see recipe below), partially baked and cooled, or one 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough, partially baked and cooled
● 2 cups (canned) unsweetened pumpkin puree
● 3 large eggs, at room temperature
● 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
● 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
● 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
● 1/3 cup sour cream
● 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
● 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
● Pinch of ground cloves
● Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
● Pinch of salt
● 3 tbsp. dark rum
● 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● Lightly sweetened lightly whipped cream, for topping
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat and put the pie plate (or tart pan) on it.
Put all of the filling ingredients in a food processor and process for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Alternatively, you can whisk the ingredients together vigorously in a mixing bowl. Rap either the work bowl or mixing bowl against the counter to burst any surface bubbles, and pour the filling into the crust.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and continue to bake for 35 to 45 minutes longer (20 to 25 minutes for a tart), or until a knife inserted close to the center comes out clean. (If you don’t want to create a slash in your masterpiece, tap the pan gently—if the custard doesn’t jiggle, or only jiggles a teensy bit in the very center, it’s done.) Transfer the pie (or tart) to a rack and cool to room temperature.
Serving: Pumpkin pie and whipped cream are naturals and, if you’ve tested the pie’s doneness with a knife, you might want to serve the whipped cream as a cover-up. I like this pie chilled, but others are fans of it at room temperature – decide for yourself.
Storing: Like most pies, this one is best served the day it is made. However, you can make the pie early in the day and keep it refrigerated until needed.
Good-For-Everything Pie Dough
Origin: Baking: From My Home to Yours
Yield: makes enough for a 9-inch single crust
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 to 33 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: at least 1 hour
● 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
● 2 tbsp. sugar
● 3/4 tsp. salt
● 1 1/4 sticks very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
● 2 1/2 tbsp. very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening (non-trans fat), cut into 2 pieces
● About 1/4 cup ice water
Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing—what you’re aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you’ve got big pieces of butter, that’s fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface.
Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. (If the ingredients were very cold and you worked very quickly, you might be able to roll the dough immediately—you’ll know: the dough will be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.) The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
Once the dough is fitted into the pie plate, refrigerate it again. If you don’t have time for a longish chill, just keep the pie plate in the fridge while you preheat the oven.
To Partially Bake a Single Crust: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil), fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down with the side of a spoon (or lightly prick the crust). Return the pie to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.