What’s for Dinner?: Pecan Pie


In a recent What’s for Dinner? column (and somewhat buoyed by a chill in the air and a glut of pie recipes,) I declared that pie season was officially open.

The early part of this joyously crusted season has concentrated on savory options such as chicken pot pie and spinach and cheese pie, but now, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is time to start thinking about sweet pies!

In the blink of an eye it will be Turkey Day, so get ready by making some pies to go in the freezer, or at the very least make a few pastry shells that you can have ready for the big day.

On the subject of which pie to make, you definitely need to have a few available as everyone has a favorite: apple, cranberry, pecan, sweet potato, pumpkin—the list goes on and families never agree. Although pumpkin pies feel the most seasonally appropriate, I have never found a pumpkin pie I liked. I so want to find a pumpkin pie I can fall in love with: I’m sure there must be a good one out there for me and I feel almost unpatriotic for not enjoying the ones I’ve tried. So here’s a request: please share your pumpkin pie secrets and let me find “the one.”

Before this becomes a lonely hearts column, let’s get back to the recipe. By way of a contrast with my lifetime of pumpkin pie disappointment, my relationship with pecan pie is a totally different matter. I have never found a pecan pie I did not like. Quite simply, the nutty crunch and chewy caramelized topping, makes it my kind of pie. I love this recipe as it uses maple syrup instead of corn syrup. Here’s a pecan pie recipe that is as easy as… well… as easy as pie.

Pecan Pie
Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoons ice cold water

For the filling

  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200ml or 7fl oz maple syrup
  • 5 oz pecan halves

To Make The Pie Crust:

Measure the flour and sugar into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and mix it until it comes together to form a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. If you are making the dough for another day you can keep it in the fridge for 3 days or freeze. If you are making the pie the same day, pre-heat the oven to 395°F.  Roll the dough out on a floured surface and use it to line a 9″ loose bottomed pie tan. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, line with parchment paper and fill with baking beans (they stop the pastry rising up). Bake blind for about 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until it is pale golden and dried out. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F.

To Make the Filling:

Next make the filling, beat the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs, maple syrup,  vanilla extract and beat well. Put the pie tray on a sheet pan, arrange the pecan halves over the pastry flat side down. Then pour in the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes until it sets. The filling will rise up during cooking and fall back on cooling. Leave to cool, then serve warm with cream or ice cream while warming your toes in front of the fire.

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  1. Here is the Rev. David Stinson’s Pumpkin Pie recipe. He made 55 of these last fall for church members at the Glen Ridge Congregational Church. I guarantee you’ll never taste a better pie.

    To make the filling for one 9″ pie:

    1 small can of pumpkin (#2.5 can)
    2 eggs, beaten
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 C whole milk
    1/4 tsp ginger
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp cinnamon.

    Add eggs to sugar, milk and salt to most of pumpkin.
    Mix spices with remainder of pumpkin and add to first mixture.
    Pour into 9″ unbaked pie shell.

    Bake at 425 for 15 mins, then 325 for another 45 mins, till golden.

    This fall he has agreed to make pecan pies for church members who make a pledge to the congregation. Details available on church website. http://www.glenridgecong.org.

  2. Thanks Abishag – I like the addition of ginger I think I will try it as it cuts through the gloopy richness of the pumpkin. I will try this one. I heard a good article on NPR saying that the best pumpkin pie they tested in America’s Home Kitchen was made with butternut squash, rather than pumpkin.
    Good one Georgette – I’ve never tried an Ina Garten recipe that did not work out well.

  3. In northern New England a squash pie is often thought to be a good substitute for pumpkin, esp if all you have are field pumpkins. A sugar pumpkin is good for a pie. A field pumpkin is good for the pigs or the jack-o-lantern. I have often seen canned squash for pies next to the Libby’s pumpkin for pies, but only in New England. America’s Home Kitchen is Vermont influenced where Christopher Kimball summers and wears bow ties…

  4. I have had this PP last Turkey Day and it is lovely. The problem was there was not enough left over.

    Lisa how many pies did we have last year? I love holidays with friends that cook and trying out crazy recipes. The cranberry orange soup was divine paired with my rock-hard pumpkin ice cream. The pumpkiny film it left on your teeth was like no other.

  5. Oops! As at least one person noticed, Abishag left out 1 cup of sugar from Dr. Stinson’s pumpkin pie recipe. How will he atone for his sin?

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