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Friday, November 23, 2012

Pecan pie

I made a pecan pie for Thanksgiving dinner.  I made it for the first time and brought it with me to Thanksgiving dinner without having ever made the pie before.  And I couldn't sample it beforehand (not that it would've mattered....I've never had more than a bite of pecan pie, and I wouldn't know a good pecan pie if it hit me in the face).  So un-Julie, right?

I was a little nervous about the pie because it had one of those ingredients that I dislike.  And it didn't really seem to go with the other ingredients.  Butter and brown sugar?  Makes sense.  Add some vanilla, a little salt, and some corn syrup?  Yup, still makes sense.  Add some.....orange zest?  I was perplexed.  But, having never baked - or really tasted - a pecan pie before, I didn't want to leave it out and ruin the pie, so I added some orange zest.  Less than the recipe called for, but I did add some.  The result was pretty amazing, if you ask the 7 other people at the table that raved about the pie.  I took two bites, thought it was good for a pecan pie, and went back to eating the apple pie (which I also made, and the post will be up soon).  That may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but I really don't like pecan pie, so it actually is quite the compliment to this recipe

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie



1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water


3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (I used just a little).
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)


Make the crust.

Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.
Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in processor) until incorporated.
Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again.
Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions.
With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and press into a 5-inch disk.
Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F with a baking sheet on middle rack.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate.
Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.
Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively.
Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth.
Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt.
Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.

Put pecans in pie shell and pour corn syrup mixture evenly over them.
Bake on hot baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour (Mine took 35-40 minutes). Cool completely.
Serve with whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream.

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