Monday, November 29, 2010

Crispy Crust Pumpkin Pie

This Thanksgiving was a quiet day for the Hub and me. But, side benefit, it seemed I could do nothing wrong while cooking. The roast chicken was yummy, and I think the stuffing might have been my best ever. That, along with mashed potatoes, gravy, and fruit salad, made up our meal. I know, there wasn't a green thing on the menu, if you discount the grapes in the ambrosia.

Oh, and for dessert we had pumpkin pie, the subject of this post.

I've long hated the way the bottom crust on pumpkin pie so often turns out soggy. Seems I could never truly get it done; it was just bleahh! So last Thanksgiving I tooled around the internet until I found a lovely article at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, which paper I must say, has some of the best recipes I've ever found. (Perhaps I think that because I spent ten years of my youth in Pittsburgh and found a number of recipes in that newspaper that I still treasure.)

The Post Gazette article agrees with my contention that keeping the crust crisp is the biggest challenge of making pumpkin pie. They say the problem is caused by proteins in the milk and eggs, which denature and exude water.

So now we know what the problem is, the question becomes how do we fix it?

What it boils down to is baking the shell first--yes, I know, you already do that--then making sure the filling is warm when you pour it into the crust.

Here are details from the article?

"Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. (Some recipes bake for a short time at a high temperature, but that can cause the pastry to shrink.) Use your usual pie pastry recipe, transfer it to the pan, fluting the rim higher than usual to contain the filling. Put the raw shell in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm it up. (I think this helped immensely.) Put a piece of foil directly onto the cold pie shell pressing it to conform to the shape, and pour in the pie weights or beans. (I use weights.) Bake the shell for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the weights or beans and continue baking until the crust is light golden brown and cooked through, another 15 minutes or more. Let cool on a rack.

"When ready to bake the pie, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine room temperature filling ingredients (pumpkin, eggs, sugar and spices) and mix well. Heat milk or cream until it is hot but not boiling. Slowly whisk the heated milk into the pumpkin mixture. It should register about 100 degrees on a digital thermometer, no more, just beyond lukewarm. (Poke your finger in to take both a temperature reading and a taste.)

"Pour the filling into the baked pie shell and bake about 30 to 40 minutes depending on your oven. The pie is done when a knife, inserted off-center into the pie, comes out clean. (This was new to me. I've always stuck a toothpick in the middle of the pie.) The center of the pie will continue to cook after the pie is removed from the oven. Do not overbake.

"The pie crust will stay crisp until the pie is gone, even the next day. That is, if it lasts until the next day."

I have to say it actually does stay crisp that long, longer actually cuz between us it takes several days to eat a whole pie.

As a sidenote, I make the filling with Splenda. I'm not that crazy about using artificial sweeteners, but I also can't use sugar, and I do like pumpkin pie this time of year. So sue me. ;^)
I'll be pulling this recipe back out again come Christmas time. It's a given that we have pumpkin pie both holidays. But give it a try, whydoncha? It really does work.

I'm linking to Hope Studio's Tutorial Tuesday.


Mary Keenan said...

I missed pumpkin pie this year! You're so lucky to have gotten some, Splenda or no ;^)

Kathleen Mullaney said...

Hi Thank you for your comment today. I'm not sure that I'll be continuing an in-depth lesson in lampshade making soon. I would be very happy to answer any specific questions you may have. It's not an easy DIY project, every shape frame and every material has specific problems that need to be addressed. But, making a perfect pattern is key!