Thanksgiving-pies

They’re simple, they’re American and, come Thanksgiving, everybody saves room for them. The recipes below for apple, pumpkin and pecan pie have been a tradition in my family for many, many years. It would not be Thanksgiving without them. I share these recipes with you and you can make them even if you do not celebrate Thanksgiving in your country.

Pie Crust for Apple and Pecan Pies

You will need three pie crusts for the Apple and Pecan Pies. You can double the recipe below and freeze the extra crust for another day or make one double and half of a double for the apple and pecan pies. I use a different crust for the Pumpkin Pie because my recipe needs a larger, deeper crust.

Classic Double Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup trans-free vegetable shortening, such as Spectrum
  • 10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 10 tablespoons ice water

Directions

Whisk together the flour and salt. Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is crumbly.

Cut the butter into small (about ½”) cubes. Add the butter to the flour mixture and work it in with your fingers, a pastry cutter or a mixer. Don’t be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones.

Add 4 tablespoons of water and toss to combine. Add enough additional water to make a chunky, fairly cohesive mixture. It should hold together when you gather it up and squeeze it in your hand.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk. Smooth the disks and the edges with floured hands. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes, or even overnight.

When you’re ready to make the pie, remove the crust from the refrigerator, leaving it wrapped. Allow it to warm a bit until it’s softened enough to roll, but still feels cold to the touch.

Next, measure the bottom diameter and up the sides of your pie pan. For example, if your pan is 7 inches across the bottom and 1 ½ inches up each side, that’s a total of 10 inches. This means you should roll your bottom crust to a diameter between 11 and 12 inches, which gives you enough extra pastry for crimping the edges.

Place the crust on a floured work surface and roll it to the desired width.

Place the crust in the pan by folding in quarters and placing it in the pan. Unfold the pastry and center it in the pan.

For a single-crust pie:

Fold the edges of the crust under and gently squeeze them together. Crimp, as desired. It’s good to make a tall crimped edge for a single-crust pie that is fairly liquid, such as pumpkin or custard.

For a double-crust pie:

Leave the edges of the bottom crust as is (no crimping). Once you’ve added the pie filling, roll out the top crust to the outside diameter of your pan and place it on top of the filling. Trim the excess crust with a pair of scissors; then press the two edges together.

Crimp, as desired. A simple fork crimp is fast and easy. At this point, it helps to return the pie to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes; this chills the fat, which ultimately increases the crust’s flakiness. Cut a hole in the center of the crust for steam to escape or slash the pie’s top surface several times. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.

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Pecan Pie

Single Crust, recipe above. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the filling

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. Mix in 3/4 cup pecans.

Pour into the prepared crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1 ¼ cups of pecans. Bake the pie until set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.

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Apple Pie

Double Crust, recipe above.

For the Filling

  • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled McIntosh apples (about 2 pounds)
  • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apples (about 2 pounds)
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Topping (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

To prepare filling:

Combine apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, flour and salt in a large bowl.

To assemble & bake the pie:

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 425°F.

Roll out half of the dough as directed in the recipe above and invert the dough into a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan. Pour the filling into the crust, mounding it higher in the center than on the sides of the pan.

Roll out the second crust and invert the dough onto the top of fruit. Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust, sealing the two together and making a rolled edge. Flute the edge with your fingers.

Combine the coarse sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the top crust with the milk and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Cut 6 steam vents in the top crust.

Bake the pie for 20 minutes; reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 35 minutes more.

Let cool on a wire rack for about 1 1/2 hours before serving.

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Pumpkin Pie

Pie Crust Ingredients

This recipe makes enough for a single deep dish crust.

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (1 1/2 to 2 ounces) water

Directions

You will need a 9 inch pie pan that’s at least 1 1/2 inches deep.

Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. This can be done right in the pie pan, if you like.

Whisk together the oil and water in a measuring cup; then pour over the dry ingredients.

Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help you make the bottom even.

Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers and flute the top. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Pumpkin Pie Filling Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups fresh cooked pumpkin
  • 1 cup half & half

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, salt and spices.

In a large measuring cup, beat together the eggs, pumpkin and half & half. Whisk into the dry ingredients.

For best flavor, cover and refrigerate the filling overnight before baking.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

When the oven is hot, place the pie pan with the chilled crust on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell and place the baking sheet in the oven on the center rack.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is set 2 inches in from the edge. The center should still be wobbly. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a rack; the center will finish cooking through as the pie sits.

Tips

  • This recipe makes enough filling to generously fill a 9 inch pan that’s at least 1 1/2 inches deep. If your pan isn’t quite that big, you can bake any leftover filling in custard cups; they will take 25 to 30 minutes to cook.
  • Pumpkin pie filling is basically a custard; the eggs in the filling will continue cooking as the heat from the edge of the pie moves toward the center, which is why it’s important to remove the pie from the oven before the center is completely set. Leaving it in the oven too long will cause the eggs to overcook, tightening the proteins and causing the pie to crack in the center.
  • Mixing the filling a day in advance (refrigerate until using) will improve the flavor of this pie by giving the spices’ flavors a chance to blend.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

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