Monday, January 28, 2008

Pecan Pie

I made this pie a couple of times over the holidays. One of my favorite sweet treats are pecan butter tarts but surprisingly, I had never had pecan pie. I've always found this pie to be so visually appealing and perhaps I equated it's beauty with being hard to make. I looked over a lot of recipes but they all seemed too sweet for my liking. The pecan pie recipe over at Simply Recipes though, sounded perfect. Indeed it was! I had a pie dough in the freezer from the countless pies I made over the holidays and it's a basic short crust dough that I've always had success with. The filling was perfect and just sweet enough. I substituted half of the corn syrup for maple syrup to give it that Canadian quality.

Pecan pie is a Southern tradition, it's a staple at BBQ's and of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas but it's so easy to make and provides such a beautiful presentation that it shouldn't be limited to special occasions. I've made this pie several times now and everyone who's tried it said it's the best they've had. It has become one of my favorite pies to eat and with it being so simple to make, it's now my favorite to bake. I won't even start about the aroma that fills your house from this pie but trust me, it's worth baking one for that reason alone!


Pie Crust (courtesy of Joy of Baking):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup (30 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 13 inch circle. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Fold the dough in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Brush off any excess flour and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself. Use a fork to make a decorative border or else crimp the edges using your fingers. Refrigerate the pastry, covered with plastic wrap, for about 30 minutes before pouring in the filling.

Pie Filling (courtesy of Simply Recipes):
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup (I used half corn syrup and half maple syrup)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1 9-inch pie shell, chilled for an hour if freshly made, defrosted for 10 minutes if frozen.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread pecans along the bottom of the pie shell. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. The pecans will rise to the surface of the pie.

Bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes until the filling has set. About 20 minutes into the cooking you may want to use a pie crust protector, or tent the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent the pie crust edges from burning.

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Serves 8.

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