Enjoying a slice of pumpkin pie at the end of Thanksgiving dinner is an American ritual enjoyed across the country. Pumpkin pie certainly doesn’t have to be your only dessert option, but it’s certainly the most classic choice. On the surface, there’s nothing difficult about making it, but there are a few tricks for achieving pumpkin pie perfection. First, freeze the butter for the pie dough, and add a little baking powder and vinegar to it. Freezing the butter ensures that it won’t soften and be absorbed into the flour, which would result in a crust that’s not flaky. Adding a little baking powder will give your crust a little lift, while vinegar, which weakens the gluten, makes the dough more elastic, allowing you to roll out a thin, perfectly formed crust. Second, when baking the pie, make sure not to overbake it, and this may result in a big crack forming in the center of your beautiful pie as it cools. Bake it just until the center of the pie is set, but still wobbly, but not liquid. (It should also still be slightly shiny.) The pie will continue to cook and firm up, via the residual heat, as it cools. Third, up your garnish game. I topped my pie with Maple Whipped Cream and Sugared Pumpkin Seeds, along with a sugared pastry leaf that I cut out and baked from the pie dough scraps. Happy Thanksgiving!
Makes 8 servings
- 1 ½ cups (213 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 9 tablespoons (127 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 15 minutes
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup (59 grams) ice-cold water
- 3 large (150 grams) eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ¾ cups (425 grams/15 oz) canned pumpkin puree (I use Libby’s)
- 3/4 cup (174 grams) heavy cream
- ½ cup (121 grams) whole milk
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (108 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons (13 grams) unsulphured molasses (optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Sugared Pumpkin Seeds:
- 1/2 cup (70 grams) hulled raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 large egg white
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Maple Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup (232 grams) heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon natural maple extract
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons (22 grams) confectioners’ sugar
Make the dough for the crust:
- Put the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until blended. Scatter the butter cubes on top and process until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
- Combine the vinegar with the water and drizzle it over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form large clumps and is mostly clumped together. (You don’t want it to form a ball around the blade, because that will cause gluten strands to form and make the crust tough.) Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape it into a 5-inch disc. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
Roll out the crust:
- Lightly flour a large work surface. Place the unwrapped dough disk on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour over it. Roll the dough from the center out in every direction, flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. You want a round about 1/8 inch or slightly less thick and about 2 inches greater in diameter than the pie pan you are using.
- Transfer the crust to a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan (if you don’t use a deep-dish pan, there will be some filling left over) by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it carefully over the pan. Press the dough first into the bottom of the pan and then against the sides. Patch any holes or cracks with dough scraps. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors, leaving about 1/2 inch of overhang. Tuck the edge of the dough under itself to create a border all the way around. Using the knuckle of your right index finger and the thumb of your left hand, crimp the edge of the dough. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork all over at 1 inch intervals. Refrigerate the pie crust for at least 45 minutes before baking.
Pre-bake the pie crust:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line the pie crust with a piece of parchment paper or lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Bake the crust for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
Make the filling:
- Whisk together the eggs and pumpkin puree until blended. Whisk in the cream, milk, white and dark brown sugars, molasses, vanilla, salt and spices just until smooth. Pour the filling into prepared crust and transfer the pie to a baking sheet. Bake at 325°F for about 1 hour and 20 to 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the filling is almost, but not quite, set in the center — it should be quivery, but notliquid. (Pay careful attention to the pie at this point, as overbaking might cause the pie filling to eventually crack on top.) Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool for at least 3 hours before serving. (If you are making the pie a day before serving, refrigerate it.)
Make the Sugared Pumpkin Seeds:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Place the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the egg white just until frothy. Add just enough of the white to coat the pumpkin seeds. Add the salt, sugar, and cinnamon, and toss well to coat the seeds.
- Spread the coated seeds in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing them occasionally with a metal spatula, for 15 to 20 minutes, until they begin to dry and color. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. With your fingers, separate any clumps of seeds. Store the seeds in an airtight container for up to a week.
Make the Maple Whipped Cream:
- Combine the cream, extracts and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip at high speed until soft peaks just begin to form. Add the confectioner’s sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and whip just until stiff peaks begin to form.
- Serve slices of the pie topped with a dollop of the whipped cream and a few of the pumpkin seeds.