The Newbie Cook
- 18,637 forkfuls since 16.Oct.10
Making everything for the first time
This afternoon, I cooked in Apartment #2 from noon ’til 5 pm. It was my turn to sponsor a dinner and I was determined to make things from scratch and not do the cowardly thing and call Domino’s. I decided that one of the four dishes would be pumpkin pie because I have an obsession with pumpkin and I have never made or even eaten a pumpkin pie. Thankfully, Serious Eats published a list of great pumpkin pie recipes. I selected one that looked most attractive and doable.
Due to my annoyance with my not-so-stellar pie crust the last time, I decided to try the attached pie crust procedure in the caramel pumpkin pie recipe from Gourmet. The result was much better! There was no dough shortage, the crust was perfectly thin, perfectly golden, and perfectly flaky.
I did change the procedure a little. Instead of molding the dough into a disk and chilling it for an hour before rolling it flat, I rolled it straight after making it. It was much more pliable, of course, and I transferred it on the pan and chilled it afterwards, pan and all.
After blind-baking, the result was a pale, golden yellow crust, which would turn into a richer color after baking with the filling. (I still need to work on my pie crust decorating skills, hehe.)
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures while making the filling. 😦 I was probably way too busy making the honey-glazed baked chicken at the same time and didn’t even think about photos. But I was excited about using ground cloves for the first time. I’ve never used cloves before in spite of it being a common ingredient in recipes involving pumpkin.
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the Philippines or even here in Saudi Arabia so this is a very unusual dish for us, although I understand it’s quite common in Northern America. My friends thought it was odd but delicious… Unless they’re puling my leg. 🙂
I made two so the big one is for the dinner and the small one is for my roommate and a couple of friends. I forgot to mention that it was also my roommate’s last day in Saudi Arabia – she left for good after 19 years here – so we took her to the airport and I brought the small pie for snacks.
Okay, enough chatting. Here’s the recipe!
Yes, yes, I know that it’s really a Thanksgiving pie. But I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving so I made it for my birthday picnic instead.
This wasn’t made solely by me but was a group project: I did the combining and directing, Kim flattened the hard dough into a circle, Chie strained the filling, and Ina contributed arm power in whipping the cream.
I’ve never made a pie before so this was all new to me. First time and I still chose not to buy a pre-made crust. How cocky of me! Luckily, my friends were around to help out.
I used Smitten Kitchen’s pie crust 102 recipe, the non-alcoholic one without the shortening. I don’t have a pastry blender but I discovered that my potato masher worked just as well in combining the butter with the flour. The mesh shaped masher helped form the butter into little pea-sized beads. After that, it was easy enough to mold it with my hands into a ball and chill it for a few hours.
Rolling the very cold dough out was harder than I thought. I rolled the first pie and Kim did the second. She was laughing the whole time because it was shaped like Europe (or was it Australia?) instead of a circle. But Kim was a trooper and kept at it.
I completely underestimated the size of the pie crust. I had no idea that it would shrink while baking! Next time, I’ll remember to leave a lot of room for shrinkage. I found out that it’s also better to punch little air holes with a toothpick into the crust before sticking it in the oven – this prevents it from creating air pockets and ruining the shape of the bottom.
The filling gave us less trouble. At first. We were planning to skip the whole “pour through a wire mesh strainer” part but the filling did end up having solid, round, floury bits in spite of our best efforts to keep it smooth. So Chie held the strainer and forced the filling through, I scraped the bottom with a spoon and Kim ate the floury bits.
The next day, after the pie was appropriately chilled, we were in a hurry to prepare the whipped cream. I forgot to bring the electric mixer (which was in Apartment #1) to Apartment #2 where the pies were. So, using female arm power, Chie, Ina and I whisked the whipped cream and sugar into a serviceable topping for the pies. Here’s Ina with a pie:
For a first-time effort, it really wasn’t bad. The crust may have been less than stellar and I believe the fault lay in my preparation rather than the recipe. The pie was still delicious according to the guests. Perhaps they were just being loyal, supportive friends… or maybe they really were telling the truth. 🙂 This is a pie that I would love to make for my family’s Christmas Eve dinner.