Last year for Thanksgiving I made six pies. Why so many pies for sixteen people, all of whom had consumed a huge Thanksgiving dinner? Well, I guess you were going to find out sooner or later. Truth is I like pie for breakfast. There, I said it. A slice of pie with a cup of tea or coffee and any day gets off to a good start as far as I’m concerned. The trick to being able to have pie for breakfast is to make extra pie the day before. Which means with a crowd that big (made up mostly of teenage boys) I had to bake a whole lot of pies.
The rustic apple tarts I baked were based on this recipe, while the other three pies were variations on my Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie. For many years my local Bread & Circus supermarket (now a Whole Foods) had a pumpkin pie contest the weekend before Thanksgiving that was judged by several department managers. The only rule was you had to make a pie from ingredients which could be purchased in the store. The first year I entered I didn’t win, not even third place, but I was able to figure out why I’d failed to even place. Being located in the Happy Valley (as we locals call this area) when the judging was finished all the contestants were able to taste all the other pies, including the winners. One bite was enough to know the secret to a blue ribbon pumpkin pie (in these judge’s opinion) was molasses. I tweaked my recipe and the following year came home with a blue.
Even though we’re having a much smaller Thanksgiving dinner this year my sister Heather and her gang of six are coming to visit the day after turkey day. I’m going to be making a whole lot of pies to ensure there are enough leftovers so everyone can have a slice of pie for breakfast.
Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie
This recipe was adapted from Nick Malgieri’s How To Bake. With the addition of some molasses it helped me win first place at the Hadley Bread & Circus Pumpkin Pie contest.
1 cup flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 – 1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
In a food processor add the flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg then pulse three times. Next add the butter and process until mixture resembles cornmeal, 7-12 times. Add egg and pulse just till incorporated. Pour dough onto a work surface and briefly kneed into a 6” circle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one or more hours.
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
2 eggs plus 2 yolks
3 Tablespoons molasses *
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove **
1 1/4 cups light cream
whipped cream for serving
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Roll out dough and line 9” pie plate. For some inspiration on how to make your crust look pretty check out this video. Pop your finished crust in the fridge while you make the filling. Gently whisk filling ingredients together in the order in which they are listed. Pour filling into crust. Bake 60 minutes or until center is nearly set.
The classic method for testing if a custard pie is done is to insert a knife tip into the center and see if it comes out clean. I am of two minds on this testing method since it can often leave a small crack in your finished pie which can lead to a fissure of extreme proportions. Your second option is to go for the jiggle test whereby you gently shake the pie plate while it is still in the oven and see how much of the center wiggles. You want some movement, but not too much. This second method requires some baking experience as to exactly how much jiggle/wiggle is enough. If you’re unsure go for the knife. You can cover your crack by using some of the leftover pie dough to make a leaf shape, which you bake (make several). Once the pie is cooked and cooled you can gently lay the leaf/leaves over the crack.
Cool and serve with whipped cream.
* My nephew Asher is not a fan of molasses. If you don’t like the taste either you can just leave it out and increase the water to 1/2 cup.
** The first time my Mom made a pumpkin pie the recipe did not specify ground cloves so she used whole instead. After the first bite everyone was very cautious to look for cloves before chewing. For this recipe Mom and I suggest you use ground clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.