Monday, November 23, 2015

Alpha Bakers -- Pecan Pumpkin Pie


I've never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, and for the first 20 or so years of my life, I wasn't even present at the creation of one, arriving as a guest just in time for appetizers. Nonetheless, every November my general predilections combine with the larger media input to prompt an almost subconsciously motivated flood of sympathy cooking. My usual dinner is a quesadilla with a cucumber nearby, or a few handfuls of whatever is lying around, but suddenly and suspiciously I start roasting chickens and root vegetables, over-buying butter, and tripling my oven output. This makes Thanksgiving more of a seasonal eating fad than a single meal, but seems to work out for everyone involved. I like pumpkins, puddings, panades, and roasted things, and at least it means more variety in the fridge.

I've given up on the notion of ever truly cooking for one. Even when I can manage food that will feed only me, or at least be appealing over a week of leftovers, I simply can't manage shopping for one. Abundance is my natural state, and as long as it's abundance of reasonably cheap ingredients, the Yiddishe mama in me surrenders to it. Yesterday, I tried immersion therapy, buying two pounds of butter and a pile of dried fruits and telling myself that the day's only task was to stay in and bake whatever I wanted from the piles of books in the living room. I'm particularly taken with The Violet Bakery Cookbook, by Claire Ptak, this month, and will be messing about with it some more soon.

On the list, though not at the top, was this week's Alpha Bake, Rose's Pecan Pumpkin pie. Essentially two fillings baked on top of one another in the same crust, a classic pumpkin pie on top of a classic pecan pie. Not entirely necessary, but why not? This week I played it straight, making the recipe more or less as written. Rose's flaky cream cheese pie crust, rolled out with a heavy lip to prevent early shrinkage (no par-baking in this one). The pecan filling is a simple treacle-y custard, made with corn syrup as I couldn't find the golden syrup that I thought was in my cabinet. It's probably in there somewhere. After that, a classic pumpkin filling is layered on top. I used an organic pumpkin puree, frozen and drained, mixed with some not very flavorful but nicely textured cubes of roasted cheese pumpkin. I baked the pie for a few minutes over the recommended baking time, which I worried was going to be too much for the pumpkin custard, but I really wanted to see some browning on the bottom crust. What's the point of a bottom crust if it's just going to be a layer of cardboard wax?

In the event, the pecan underlayer lent moisture to the pumpkin and there was no harm done, although it was a bit firmer than I might have cooked a plain pumpkin pie. The one co-worker who has tried it so far ate a slice very quickly and announced 'That was great!' Hopefully he and everybody else will take some home, as my freezer is filling up and I have tomorrow off as well...
although I'm already out of butter.

6 comments:

Vicki said...

"Already out of butter"-this made me laugh! I'm amazed how much butter I go through baking. But "an almost subconsciously motivated flood of sympathy cooking" is the most spot on description of Thanksgiving culinary delights. Martha Stewart isn't helping either, popping up here, there and everywhere. Lucky co workers to have a slice of your great looking pie. Your crust retained the fluted shape, too. High five!

Marie Wolf said...

We should all be buried with butter.

Joan said...

Katya - looks like a great pie - save me a piece - Dad

faithy bakes said...

Your pie looks beautiful! Is the Violet Bakery cookbook good? I browse through at the bookstore and didn't find anything interesting. Maybe I should take another look again.

Kimberlie Robert said...

Your pie crust looks so flakey. It seems that it would crumble just at the site of it! I love this line of yours: "I like pumpkins, puddings, panades, and roasted things, and at least it means more variety in the fridge." It about says it all this time of year.

Chimay said...

Katya, do you still have a copy of the Curtis & Schwartz cookbook? I know someone who is looking for the recipe for Kasha Breakfast Pudding. Can you post it or share with me via email? Thank in advance!