Growing up, Thanksgiving was never about the food for me. The holiday was about my crazy extended family gathering at my Nana and Papa’s house, where we’d play games, listen to my great grandfather tell stories, and recount what we were all thankful for. As a child, I was most thankful for owning Britney Spears’ debut album …Baby One More Time, but as I got older and was able to move to the grown up table, I started to appreciate what filled my plate; the turkey that had been roasting, potatoes my aunt spent hours peeling, and the pies my Nana would make. My Nana’s pies were always the star of the show for me.
The last few weeks I’ve been gathering tips from my two baking queens, Martha and Ina (hey girls!), in an attempt to master my pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving. After what seemed like a hundred pies later, I had finally made a pie I am proudly to serve at the dessert table.
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled (See Recipe Note)
4-8 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg yolk whisked with 1 tablespoon water
15 ounces pumpkin puree
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
- Cut the butter into cubes: Cut the butter into small cubes and return to the fridge. This will keep the butter as cold as possible before you add it to the flour.
- Prepare the ice water: Place a few ice cubes in a small ramekin and fill with water. Stir with a tablespoon measure and set aside.
- Mix the flour and salt: Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. If you don’t have a food processor, whisk the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl.
- Combine the butter and flour: Scatter the cubes of butter over the surface of the flour. Attach the food processor lid and pulse 15 to 20 times until the mixture resembles cornmeal with pieces of butter no larger than a pea. If no food processor, cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingertips.
- Add the ice water: With the food processor running, pour 4 tablespoons of water into the flour mixture – don’t pulse for over 30 seconds. The dough should be forming larger clumps around blade at this point. If not, add more water, one tablespoon at a time. The final dough should not come together in a dough, but you should see no more powdery flour and the dough should just be starting to clump together in large crumbs. Alternatively, sprinkle the water over the flour and use two forks to toss the flour to combine. Test the dough and add more water as described above, handling the dough as little as possible with your hands.
- Press the pie dough into disks and refrigerate: Turn the pie dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide the dough into two piles. Use the palm of your hand to quickly gather and press each mound into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 days (or freeze for up to 3 months; defrost in the fridge overnight before using).
- Roll out the bottom crust: Remove one of the disks of dough from the fridge. Sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with flour. Unwrap the dough and lay it on top of the flour. Working from the middle of the dough outwards, roll the dough into a circle roughly 12 to 13 inches in diameter (a few inches larger than your pie pan). Lift and turn the dough after each roll to make sure it is not sticking to the work surface. If it starts to stick, use more flour and a pastry scraper to lift the dough from the work surface.
- Transfer the crust to the pie pan: Sprinkle the top of the pie crust and your rolling pin with a little flour. Lay your rolling pin on one edge of the pie crust and begin gently rolling the pie crust over the rolling pin. When it’s all rolled up, move it to the pie pan and gently unroll. Ease the pie crust into the corners of the pan. Trim all but an inch or two of the pie dough from around the edge; use the trimmings to patch up any holes or tears.
- Chill the dough: Transfer the pie pan with pie crust to the fridge and chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. While the crust is chilling, heat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the middle position.
- Blind bake the crust. Once the dough is chilled and the oven is preheated, prick the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork so it doesn’t bubble up while in the oven. Then line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and take out the foil/parchment and the weights/beans. Bake for a few minutes longer, until the edges start to brown. Let the crust cool while preparing the filling.
Pumpkin Filling –
- Make the filling. While the crust is cooling, combine the pumpkin puree, sugars, honey, and spices in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat for about five minutes or until the mixture starts to come together and steam a bit. Remove from heat and whisk thoroughly. Whisk in the milk and cream until fully incorporated. Add in the eggs and egg yolk and whisk to combine.
- The final bake. Pour the filling into the cooled, pre-baked pie crust. Turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the center of the pie has just set. Let cool completely before serving.