By Cal Virgilio
Is there any more comforting food than pie? It can be sweet or savory; as long as there is crust and filling, I love it! And of all the desserts I have baked, the process of making a pie is by far my favorite. So it is only fitting that given our love for this comfort food, we start a new segment on Oats n’ Notes called, “Life of Pie.”
For those who like making pie, I’m sure you can relate to the enjoyment that comes from the baking process. Perhaps this is because making a great pie takes practice. There is first the crust. It must be light and flaky, but not dry and brittle. It also must keep its shape and texture, preventing the filling from soaking into the crust.
And speaking of the filling, the options abound depending on the season. If we are in the summer months, I would choose the freshest and most delicious fruit possible. My favorite is to combine blueberries and peaches with homemade caramel, which has a balanced sweet and tart flavor. For my mother, Suzanne, she has always been a sour cherry pie lover.
No matter what filling you choose and what season you’re baking the pie, the finishing touches often make or break the presentation of your hard work. Making a streusel topping can be quick, easy and delicious. But there is no better way to add the “wow” factor to your pie than with a rustic lattice. Remember, a pie is supposed to look hand-made, so the imperfections of the crimped crust and lattice are what makes your pie unique.
We look forward to writing about pie as the seasons change, and since we’re in the midst of the holiday season, I will start things off with one of my favorite pumpkin pie recipes. I discovered the recipe in last year’s Bon Appetit October issue: Bruleed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie.
This recipe has a few extra steps than your regular pumpkin pie, but all are worth the effort. Finally, the bruleed-top gives a thin layer of crunchy sweetness and a nice presentation to your guests.
- 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa
- 3 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 2 Tbsp. chilled vegetable shortening, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- All-purpose flour for dusting
- 4 large eggs
- 1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 Tbsp. bourbon
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- Pulse cocoa powder, granulated sugar, salt and 1 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. flour in a food processor to combine.
- Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. transfer to a large bowl
- Whisk egg yolk, vinegar and 1/4 ice water in a small bowl. Drizzle half of over flour mixture and, using a fork, mix gently until just combined.
- Add remaining egg mixture and mix until dough just comes together (you will have some unincorporated pieces)
- Turn out dough onto lightly-floured surface, flatten slightly, and cut into quarters. Stack pieces on top of one another, placing unincorporated pieces of dough between layers, and press down to combine. Repeat process twice more (all pieces of dough should be incorporated at this point.) Form dough into a 1"-thick disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least one hour.
- Roll out disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into 14" round. Transfer to a 9" pie dish. Lift up edge and allow dough to slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1" overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Chill in freezer 15 minutes.
- Place rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line pie with parchment paper or heavy-duty foil, leaving 1 1/2" overhang.
- Fill pie with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around the edge, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake until surface of crust looks dry, 5-10 minutes. Brush bottom and sides of crust with 1 beaten egg. Return to oven and bake until dry and set, about 3 minutes longer. (Brushing crust with egg and baking will prevent a soggy crust.)
- Whisk pumpkin puree, sour cream, bourbon, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and remaining 3 large eggs in a large bowl; set aside.
- Pour maple syrup in a small saucepan; add vanilla and bring syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and small puffs of steam start to release, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add cream in 3 additions, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth. Gradually whisk hot maple cream into pumpkin mixture.
- Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in filling. Bake pie, rotating halfway through, until set around the edge but center barely jiggles, 50-60 minutes. Transfer pie dish to a wire rack and let pie cool.
- Just before serving, sprinkle pie with sugar, and using a kitchen torch, brulee until sugar is melted and dark brown.