Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Tutorial Pecan Pie

Feast your eyes on Auntie Em's pie...
This first picture isn't my work. This is a pre-post-script. Is that allowed? Well, I'm breaking protocol if it's not. Here's the scoop. My sister, Auntie Em sent me a picture of her first pecan pie. She made it the day this tutorial posted and before I get into my pictures I had to post this one she sent. Isn't it beautiful?! It's her first ever! Well done. Smooooches to you my lovely girl! Slobbery drooling smoooches. This single slice is my work...
I don't know if it's fair to show this without having some kind of adult warning.

Warning. Pecan pie. Tutorial Tuesday. Not for the faint of heart...or dieting. Not for anything other than a very special occasion. Once a year, under extreme joy. Thanksgiving is coming up. So is Tuesday. Take your pick. Dear sweet Gena, my girlie nice friend since we where in the eighth grade, asked me to come over for a little pecan pie face time. Mind you, it's not just because I've known Gena for 20 years that I agreed to come visit. I will, under any circumstances, stop the world for pecan pie. If it's done right. I'm weird about my pecan pie. I think it should have a custard that holds together instead of oozing all over the place or separating. The crust should be crisp all the way through...even at the bottom of the pan. Golden toasted pecans in every bite, should fill the custard. I think everyone has a varying opinion on pecan pie. I think you will agree, however that this recipe works. The original recipe came from Food Network, but I've changed a few of the ingredients. The crust is my own recipe. I hope you enjoy. This of course definitely qualifies as an Evil Think Tank...or the ETT. Gena is in on it...so it has to be evil. Right Gena? You know I love your evilish-ism-ness.
Crust is crucial. This recipe is one I've used for years. For the full story see Pie crust, but it is the one that started me down the road to being a chef and one I've held dear for that very reason. This makes two standard 9 inch pies.

For the crust you will need:
2 1/4 cup pastry flour (all purpose will work)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening (non trans fat try Spectrum brand) I use 1/2 shortening, 1/4 cup butter.
3 T cold water
3 T white distilled vinegar (trust me?)

For the Evil pecan filling you will need:
1/2 cup plus 2 T butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup corn syrup (light or dark...I use dark)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups chopped toasted pecans
2 cups whole pecans, toasted
2T bourbon (if you use alcohol in your baking) I used 1/2 tsp brandy extract, 1/2tsp rum extract
1 T pure vanilla
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
6 eggs, whisked


Combine the flour and the salt in a large bowl.
I keep the fat pretty cold. Yes, if you look closely I do use some butter as well. It helps with the "mouth feel" of the crust. Buttery and not so greasy.

cut in shortening with a pastry blender. combine lightly until the mix resembles course meal or tiny peas: its texture will not be uniform, but will contain small crumbs and small bits and pieces. If you don't have a pastry blender, you can certainly use the wire whisk from your mixer.
Or, my personal favorite...the techno-chef fingers. Just make sure your hands are freezing cold. It's winter, I'm sure you can work that out.

Mmmm pea size.

I use vinegar in my crust. I have for years. It helps with the flaky texture and it actually does make an amazing crust. Gena was convinced after just one taste. Should you doubt me, please, just try it once. If you don't like it, never return to it. I doubt you'll feel that way though.

Make a well in the dry stuff and add 3 T cold water and 3 T vinegar. You may need more or less, so go with 2 T of vinegar at first...but I can't think if the last time I needed to change the recipe and add more water or vinegar than what it says.

Lightly combine, just until mixed. Overmixing the dough will always result in hard non-flake-like crust. You have been warned. I bring it together.
Kneading it only a few times and making into a ball.
Refrigerate about 30 minutes. It will be easier to work with, and it gives the gluten (protein in the wheat) time to rest so the dough will roll out easier.
Take half of the dough. With your hands form it into a patty. I put my dough between two pieces of wax paper. I've used this method since my granny W. Forever. It's never failed me. Lightly...and I do mean lightly...wipe the counter top with a lightly damp clean washcloth. Place a piece of wax paper down, about 1 foot by 1 foot. Put the dough down. Top with another piece of wax paper of same proportions. Wax paper helps contribute to a tender crust, using extra flour on the counter instead may lead to a dry crust if overdone. This keeps me good.

Totally not necessary to have a Candy-land rolling pin. Gena just has this old thing laying around so I had to use it. Totally cute isn't it?! Roll the dough out into a circle. This may take practice to get it just right. Take your time.

Once to the edges of the wax paper, remove the top piece of paper. Place crust, uncovered side down in the pan, with an inch or so of crust hanging over the edge of the pan.

Now remove the second piece of crust.

Trim the edge so it hangs over about 3/4 inch, then fold it under so it leaves a little rim on the pan. This one comes up about 1/2 inch.

I will now play the flute for your listening pleasure...pppflllkkkkiiispuutttt. Like so.

Don't expect your first pie to look this neat and tidy. I may have made several hundred pies in the course of my days. If, however, yours looks this nice, keep in mind you are a freaky genius and I don't even know what to say.

You will need a 400 degree pre-heated oven. I'm not kidding on that point either. It's really important to heat that bad boy up first. Your crust will be better. Now here's what I do. I have these magic beans see...and they go on this layer of aluminum foil, right on top of the crust. They hold the crust down when it bakes so it doesn't get air bubbles. If you resist the urge to prick holes in the crust, you will be rewarded with a pecan pie that actually isn't glued to the pan by molten carmel superglue stuff that leaked through. Be impressed that I know that...and do, please, learn from my hideous mistake. I made it only once, and I will remember it forever. The humanity of chiseling pie crust off the bottom of the pan. It was a pathetic, dramatic display I don't want to repeat. Use the dry uncooked beans...not like a can of pork-n-beans. The dry bags...you know? Or, use the fancy pie weights...whatever.

Bake 10-15 minutes, just to make the crust nice and pre-cook-like. It will not be golden yet. Very techno-baking term.
Now the secret to perfectly carmel pecan custardy goodness. Custardy is a word. I think he was an army general in the southern states at one point. This is how I do it. Others may swear by another method. This is how I do it. It hasn't failed me yet.
Combine the evil pecan filling ingredients except the eggs and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it reaches a boil, cook one minute. ONE.

Add the chopped nuts. Allow the carmel stuff to cool to room temperature. I usually make it while the pie crust is pre-baking. It seems to work well.

Don't lick the computer screen. It's shocking.

Once cooled...and I mean cooled, add the whisked eggs slowly. It is most heinously important that the carmel mixture be cooled to room temperature or your eggs will cook and your pie will be stinky,nasty junk. I will not be held responsible for that crap-o-lah. So, you have been warned.

Pour the heavenly goodness into the slightly warm pie shell and top with the whole pecans. I know...it's just too much. Try not to yelp in a fit of joy.

You can buy fancy pie guards. The Pampered Chef sells a really nice one for right around 7 bucks. Or...you can use the old stand-by foil. This one is better at warding off alien mind control devices...and you know I'm worried about that after the whole sour dough incident (Random thoughts...Sourdough.) This will keep the outside crust from getting deathly dark and nasty. We don't want that right?
Okay so reduce oven heat to 35o. I bake 35-40 minutes, until the center is slightly firm.

If your training is complete my younglings...it will look something like this.

Or, by the hideous thigh creating slice...(but we won't talk about that on Thanksgiving right?) Jiggle, jiggle.

Yea, baby. You know this is how it should be where the carmel goodness of the custard doesn't separate all over the plate in a melted butter oily mess. It should just cling together...like it loves itself. Pecan pie with good self esteem. Golden and full of itself...or something like that. Oh have mercy.

Let me see if it will pass the fork test...

Dang-tootin'. That's what I'm talking about. Flakes of crust all over the place.
There you go.


mlebagley said...

Oh my heart this looks totally DELISH! K, I'm so making this....on payday when I can buy pecans! Would pecan pie work with another kind of nut? Sunflower seed pie? Hazelnut Pie? Almond pie? Or is the beauty of the pecan that the sugary goodness seeps into the little cracks on the nuts and softens it just slightly enough to cause this crazy addictive reaction in the tastebuds? Hmmm.. your tutorial was awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

i am very excited to use your tips hum..you would think after the whole experience of poking the pie crust for a billion years i would figure it out.. WHAT! not me! I will never do that again! and i am happy to day my pie crust recipe is much the same!

Goob said...

LOL, LOVE the empty plate pic, I was totally expecting a food-network style slice of pie with a single bite removed from it.

Dori said...

Pecan pie will always get me talking...however, as gorgeous and delicious as this looks, King Arthur Flour just posted a recipe for Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie...wait, it makes two pie crusts? Maybe one of each? Satisfy the non-chocolate loving heathens as well--give them something to be thankful for?

Someone somewhere posted a picture of your most amazing and beautiful bread (I'm thrilled when my raises), I followed the link and I'm fascinated and thrilled with what I found!

Meadowlark said...

I've been tasked to bake just such a pie for YoungSon's wedding. Unfortunately I've only made mini-tarts before - apparently he and the fiance thought a pie would be just as simple. AAARGH!!! So I'm counting on you to save me. Thanks!! :)

Meadowlark said...

DORI!!! "someone somewhere"??? You mean "my amazing friend MEADOWLARK" posted Chef Tess' links. ;) Glad to share the brilliance of the Chef with my friends.

Chef Tess said...

Meadowlark, I have to say publicly thank you for posting that link! I loved seeing it and reading your sweet words! If everyone who really loved me did that...well, I'd have a lot more readers. The more people I can help, the better. Love it! Thanks you!

Bergamot said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I made the pecan pie about 2 months back, wish I had the tips you mentioned here to ensure that the sides do not burn!!

mlebagley said...

Is this freezeable (put in freezer before baking, take out turkey day morning and put in oven?) It's getting to be that time of year again when freezer friday needs to meet PIE. What do you think?

Chef Tess said...

OH yeah! Please give me a reason to try that! I'm thinking it should be okay, but I'll check. I might have to pre-cook the custard or add some starch to keep it as I would like. I will keep you posted for sure!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate, result in I found just what I used to be looking for.
You've ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

Here is my blog :: Full Article

Big Daddy said...

Once again amazed, enamored, enthralled, impressed and well, just darn excited to see another K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) recipe from my favoritest (that is a word!) Chef in the Whole Wide World!! Tess, you always make your "gifted talent" look easy! I will be trying this soon (too late for tomorrow), I did however make your 3 ingredient, no knead (not no need) bread. Whilst it did not appear as beautiful as yours, the taste was amazing!! Not going to be able to make the Book Premier on Friday, but save me a copy, I will be there on Saturday!!! Thanks, Big Daddy

Chef Tess said...

Awe!! Big Daddy you make me smile. Every. Single. Time. Thank you!! I'll set aside a copy for you. Xoxo!