Pamp-keen Pie!

So if you don't get the title of this post, let me explain...then we'll get on to the goodness!

I won a trip to Barcelona, Spain two years ago through work (people who had the highest sales goals got to go, that kind of thing). Many of you who know me know that Spain is my favorite place in the world, and I have some great friends there, Cristina and Lalis and their family. So of course I worked it out with them to meet up one day while there and have lunch. During lunch it was a crowd of me, my friend Anne (also American), my two Spanish friends, one of their boyfriends, and a German exchange student. So to sum up the languages being spoken at our table: English, Spanish, Catalan, and German. We were quite the international crowd.

During this lunch, we somehow got to talking about funny-sounding words in different languages, and all of the Spaniards at the table agreed that "Pumpkin" was the strangest word they had ever heard. So for the rest of lunch they kept saying "Pamp-keen!" with their Spanish accents and laughing like crazy. Ever since, I have never been able to say "Pumpkin" like a normal person, this way is just so much better :). As for crazy sounding Spanish words? I've always been a fan of "Habichuelas," or green beans, pronounced "ah-bee-CHWAY-lahs." Also, "albondigas" always struck me as kind of funny too (meatballs-"al-BOHN-dee-gahs").

ANYWAY! Enough rambling-I know what you're here for. You're here to unlock the secrets to a perfect pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving? That was just a test run. Now you've got some practice under your belt and you're ready to pull out the big guns! Well this pumpkin pie is the big daddy of all pumpkin pies (if I do say so myself). The fresh ginger and bourbon in it totally send it over the edge! So I now want you to listen very carefully:

  • go to your freezer
  • politely break it off with your Sara Lee pumpkin pie...that means YOU, Mom! (you're growing apart, your culinary skills have improved, and you need something else that will challenge you as a budding bakery goddess...or get my drift)
  • now throw it away, and follow this recipe...

Pumpkin Pie

Courtesy of Brock Kuhlman, of Hill's Kitchen in Washington, DC

par-baked 9” pie crust

1 T all-purpose flour
1 t cinnamon, ground
1 t salt
¼ t nutmeg, ground
2 c fresh or canned pumpkin puree, unsweetened
1 1/3 c heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 t finely grated peeled ginger

*for those of you who love bourbon: reduce the heavy cream to 1 cup.  Add 1/3 cup of bourbon to the filling, along with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  You should love bourbon.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

In the bowl of a mixer, whip the pumpkin, eggs, cream, sugars, vanilla, and grated ginger until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients and blend just until combined.  Fill the parbaked shell and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the middle of the custard jiggles but doesn't slosh.

Cool at least three hours before cutting.  This pie really improves after sitting overnight- the spice flavors really smooth out and become luscious. 

Butter/Shortening Pie Crust*

single crust
1 ½ c all-purpose flour
¼ t salt
5 T cold unsalted butter
3 T cold shortening
4-5 T cold water

double crust
2 c all-purpose flour
½ t salt
7 T cold unsalted butter
4 T cold shortening
5-6 T cold water

Measure out the water for the crust and then chill in the freezer.

Measure out the flour and salt into a cold bowl and whisk until well mixed.

Coat the stick of butter in the flour, and then using a bench knife or chef's knife, cut length ways into four long pieces.  Coat in flour.  Cut the long pieces into ¼” cubes (1” pieces for a food processor) and coat in flour.  Using a pastry cutter, press the tines straight down through the fat and flour mixture repeatedly until the largest pieces of fat are the size of large peas and the smallest are the size of lentils.  Don't over do it- range of fat pieces makes for a flaky pastry.  Rechill if your kitchen is warm.  (if using a food processor, pulse a few times until the fat is cut into a range of sizes as indicated above.  Do not run the processor continuously- only pulse. Transfer to a cold bowl.)

Be stingy with the water.  Add a tablespoon at a time, tossing the dough between each addition, not mixing or smearing.  Work the dough as little as possible.  Add just enough water that there is no more dry flour at the bottom of the bowl- you want all the flour to be incorporated until there are only little cobble like bits hanging together.  Add the last bit of water in drips, or flicks.  To test, pat together a tennis ball size piece of dough- if it falls apart or has big, floury cracks, you need to add a few more drops of water.  Too much dough makes a tough dough, so be judicious at this point.  If you get your dough too wet, throw it away and start over.  It can't be recovered.

For a single crust, form into a ball.  For a double crust, divide into two balls, one slightly larger than the other (the bottom crust will need to be bigger to fit the pan).  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour. 

*Working with pastry is a bit of an art, but one that can be mastered if you remember two things.  The dough has to have enough water to be cohesive, but too much water (which paradoxically makes the dough easier to work with) will make it tough.  Second, the fat always has to be cold.  Always.  Warm fat will never make a good crust.  If it seems too warm, stop and chill it a few minutes in the freezer.

Blind Baking/ Par-Baking a Pie Shell

Roll out the pastry and fill a 9” pie tin, crimping the edge.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes.  Prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork to keep it from bubbling up, and then line the pie shell with parchement paper or aluminum foil.  Fill the pie with pie weights or kidney beans and bake as follows:

For a par-baked crust (for pumpkin pie), bake the bean/weight filled crust for 15-20 minutes at 450 F, or until the edges look blonde and slightly blistered.

For a blind baked crust (for a fresh fruit tart), bake the bean/weight filled crust as above, but then remove the weights/beans, turn the oven down to 375 F, and then bake it for ten minutes or so until the crust edges and bottom are golden brown. 

First off, let's be honest here.  I've slacked on the blog.  I used to write it on my lunch hours at work, but now I've taken to not taking lunch hours.  If you work in front of a computer screen like me, you know you don't want to even SEE a keyboard after work!  I know, excuses excuses.  So why I am I giving you this now?  Truthfully, I wrote this LAST year around this time...but I lost my recipes!  They were in a packet that got thrown away.  I just got around to asking Brock for the packet, and he was nice enough to send it to me.  Why is it a big deal that he was nice enough to send it to me?  Because he lives in THAILAND now.  Yah.  The man is awesome.  You should check out his blog here.

Me waiting around on this draft for a year and still posting also tells you something...this pie is GOOD!  Like really good.  And Brock's right, add the bourbon.  Between the bourbon and the fresh ginger and the regular pumpkin pie deliciousness, it's heavenly.  I'm thinking I might make this for Christmas in San Diego.  I'm thinking you should too, wherever you are.

Happy Holidays!  :) I promise to try and write more!  And remember...


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