Best Pecan Pie

Despite the stores overflowing with Christmas decorations fall has only just begun. Now is the time for pumpkin spice, and cranberries. I am forever surprising my boss with the list of things I’ve never eaten, and she was super surprised that pecan pie was on that list. I’d always assumed it was going to be cloyingly sweet, and just hadn’t gone out of my way to try it. Pumpkin was always my go-to for this time of year.

Well, Julia was determined to prove me wrong so brought her pecan pie in to work one day and it was perfection! Wonderful flavours, and just the right level of sweetness. So when Thanksgiving rolled around I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Perfect Pecan Pie! It was a huge success! My father-in-law declared it the “best pie he’d ever had” and everyone else devoured it so I assume they loved it too.

Pecan Pie Shell

For me this was a double win: on one hand I made amazing filling, and on the other I also managed to make a wonderful crust. I used to use my food processor, and I’m pretty sure I always worked a bit too much water into it, because I never trusted it would hold together in its crumbly state. It was always good but now it’s better. Now I know better. I use Erin McDowell’s method from Fearless Baker and it has yet to fail me. I happily make pie now!

I hope you end up having as much luck as I did. Let me know if you do!

Pecan Pie

Perfect Pecan Pie (from Fearless Baker pg. 188, and Julia House [formerly Always Leave Room for Dessert])

For the crust
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
Pinch of kosher salt
8 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2” cubes
3 tbsp ice water, plus more as needed

For the filling
2 C Pecan halves, toasted*
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 C light corn syrup
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 C brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract

The Crust
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Toss in the butter, coating it well with the flour. Use your hands to squeeze and flatten the butter into shards. Larger for flakey crust, finer for a mealy crust.

Make a well, pour in the water and use hands to combine. If needed, add 1 tbsp more water at a time until it comes together. Knead together: should form a ball that’s almost dry to the touch.

Pat into a disk and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 mins, or overnight.

Lightly flour your work space and roll the dough out to a 1/4” thick circle. Transfer to a 10” fluted tart pan (or pie plate) and gently tuck the dough into the bottom and the edges. If using a tart pan, roll your rolling pin across the top of the pan to cut off excess dough (or go around edge with a sharp knife). If using a pie plate tuck the dough down into the bottom and fold the outer edge under itself and crimp with your preferred method.

Chill in fridge for 20-30 mins.

Prick all over the bottom with a fork. Layer with a sheet of parchment and fill with pie weights (or dry beans/rice/sugar). Make sure it’s evenly filling all the nooks and crannies.

Bake on a baking stone, or the bottom rack at 425F for 15-20 mins (just barely turning golden brown). Remove from oven and gently lift out the parchment with the weights.  Brush bottom and edges with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water and a pinch of salt).

Return to oven and continue baking for 12-17 mins. You want an evenly golden brown, but since you’re going to bake after filling make sure it’s still fairly light (the blind bake is important to prevent a soggy bottom, but you don’t want it too dark or it’ll just burn later).

Cool completely before filling.

The Filling
In a medium bowl, combine the butter, corn syrup, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt.

Coursely chop the pecans and add them to the mixture.

Pour into prepared shell** and bake at 250F for 50-60 mins, until filling is puffy, and barely jiggles when gently shaken.

Allow to cool completely. Top with oodles of whipped cream. Enjoy!

 * Scatter in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350F oven for 8-12 mins (until fragrant), stirring every few minutes. Remove immediately from tray (to prevent carryover cooking) and allow to cool before use.

** Any extra filling can be poured into individual ramekins and baked alongside the pie (watch that they don’t overcook).