Just in time for Thanksgiving, a lucky 30 participants will learn the “Lost Art of Pie Making” today at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center.
This class with a professional baker of 45 years is so popular that it sells out months in advance, before it was on my radar as a feature for the newspaper’s weekly food section. A bit of advice to all you pie enthusiasts: Look for it on the Extension’s new Master Food Preservers class schedule after the first of the year and sign up early.
Making pie crust from scratch is the main lesson in today’s class, which promised students an apple pie to take home and bake and an empty pie shell to fill with cream filling. I’ve always theorized that I make pie crust so rarely that the holidays are not the time to perfect it. So I keep reaching for the refrigerated, roll-out crust year after year. So does my mom for her pecan and pumpkin pie.
But the following recipe from the Los Angeles Times could convince me to try homemade pie crust this year. I’ve heard time and again how easy it is in a food processor. In fact, the Times’ recent article even recommended using the food processor for whipped cream.
My family likely would be won over by the subtle bacon flavor (who wouldn’t?), which has been getting plenty of play with Bourbon in the foodie world. It also helps that my parents’ preference for breakfast tends to yield bacon grease, certainly enough for this recipe.
With all that richness, whipped cream could put this dessert over the top. But it is traditional, after all. Just make sure it’s the real stuff, not “whipped topping.” Here are the Times’ tips for perfect whipped cream:
Start with cold ingredients and utensils: cold cream, cold whisk, cold mixing bowl (store your bowl and whisk or beaters in the freezer for several minutes before getting started, if possible). Your cream will whip faster if everything is chilled.
Add the sweeteners or flavorings just as the cream begins to thicken and gain volume. Taste and adjust
If you over-whip the cream and it begins to lose that smooth texture and become stiff and coarse, and you see it separate and begin to curdle, you may be able to fix it. Gently whisk in (by hand) a little more cream until you regain the proper texture. Of course, whip long enough and you may happily find you’re on your way to homemade butter.
Food processor method: Place the cold ingredients in the bowl (the bowl and blade do not have to be chilled) and process until you get the consistency you want, barely a minute or two. The texture is rich and superior to any others that Times recipe testers have tasted.
Pumpkin Pie With Bourbon and Bacon Crust
1 1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons cold bacon grease or shortening, cut into 3 pieces
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold bourbon
2 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half
4 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
To make dough using a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the bacon grease and pulse until incorporated (dough will look like moist sand). If using shortening instead of the bacon grease, increase the salt by 1/4 teaspoon (to 3/4 teaspoon). Add the butter and pulse just until butter is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over mixture, and pulse once or twice until incorporated. Remove crumbly mixture to a large bowl and gently press mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
To make dough by hand, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the bacon grease and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (dough will look like moist sand). If using shortening instead of the bacon grease, increase the salt by 1/4 teaspoon (to 3/4 teaspoon). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over mixture; stir together just until incorporated. Gently press crumbly mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a round roughly 13 inches in diameter. Place in a 9-inch baking dish, crimping edges as desired. Freeze formed shell for 20 to 30 minutes before filling and baking. For a nice sheen, brush the crust with egg white before baking.
For filling, in mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Beat until well-blended. Add the half-and-half, eggs and butter; stir to combine. Pour filling into prepared pie shell. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean, for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature or chill before serving.
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.