Ever had a day when your sweet tooth is being somewhat attention-seeking?
… maybe a little demanding?
There’s a treatment for that ….
Having its origins in the southern states, pecan pie has accepted our invitation to find its way north to become a part of many of our holiday celebrations…or just when we need a sweet treat. It highlights the pecan nut, a nut that is native to North America.
Pecan pie recipes are quite standard – pecans, sugar, butter, syrup (usually corn syrup), and eggs. But it is how it’s put together that distinguishes a good pecan pie from a great pecan pie.
Tips for making a great Pecan Pie:
- Let’s start with the pecans … in spite of how lovely the pie can look with whole pecans covering the surface, it really is not practical. Given the richness of this pie, slices need to be very thin, and fork-bites very small. Dealing with a whole pecan is too much. Halving them, or giving them a rough chop, facilitates the slicing as well as the enjoyment factor.
- Dark brown sugar, like demerera, has more flavour than granulated sugar or golden brown sugar.
- Cane syrup offers more flavour than corn syrup, as well as a more stable filling. Lyle’s Golden Syrup is the best cane syrup that I have found …it is a U.K. treat that we can usually find in the grocery aisle near the maple syrup or honey. Rogers Golden Syrup, a Canadian product, is another alternative.
- Don’t hold back on the vanilla …
- The addition of vinegar …in this case, apple cider vinegar … helps to balance out the sweetness.
- Pecan Pie is better baked at a lower temperature.
- Blind baking the crust (see Method for blind baking instructions) ensures that the crust will be well-baked and crispy.
- Most Pecan Pie recipes suggest just combining the syrup, melted butter, eggs, and flavourings and then pouring this mixture directly into the crust. An alternative way is to heat up the filling mixture prior to adding it to the crust.
You will have a clear, silky smooth and evenly-baked pie if the filling is already at about 120-130 degrees F prior to getting into the oven.
Prep Time: Crust: 10 minutes + resting time + blind baking
Filling: 10 minutes
Baking Time for Pie: 1 hour
Yield: 1 9-inch pie
Dough for a single crust pie:
190 g (1 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon (4 mL) salt
2 tablespoons (30 mL) granulated sugar
115 g (1/2 cup / 1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small chunks
1 large egg, cold
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vinegar
60 g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup (210 g) hard-packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (250 mL) golden cane syrup
3 large eggs, at room temperature, slightly beaten
½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups (375 mL) pecan pieces, toasted, cooled, cut in half
1. Prepare crust: With a food processor fitted with a metal blade (or with a pastry blender), mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Gradually incorporate the icy cold butter chunks until the mixture resembles pea-size chunks.
2. In a measuring cup, crack the cold egg, add the vinegar, and enough ice cold water to make 1/3 cup (85 mL). Whisk to thoroughly combine.
3. Gradually add the egg-vinegar mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until it comes together – until it starts to look like bread crumbs. Don’t over-process.
4. Turn out mixture onto a large piece of wax paper or plastic wrap. Gently, and minimally, form a ball of dough. Flatten the ball into a disk shape – about 5-6 inches in diameter. This will assist in rolling out the dough later on.
5. Wrap dough disk in the wax paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Dough can also be frozen for later use.
6. When you are ready to make Pecan Pie: Roll out the rested dough, and fit it into a 9 inch pie plate. Crimp or flute the dough along the circumference. Prick the dough in several places and prepare it for blind baking by lining the crust with a sheet of parchment paper or foil. Add baking weights. Let the crust rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes while the oven is pre-heating.
7. Blind bake the crust for 15 min at 3750F (1900C). Take the crust out of the oven and remove the paper and baking weights and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes.
8. Prepare the Filling while the crust is blind baking: In a large bowl, over a pot of steaming or simmering water, melt butter. Add the dark brown sugar, syrup, and salt. Whisk, or stir, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup is warm. Add the beaten eggs, vanilla, and vinegar.
9. Continue to stir the filling mixture over the hot water until the mixture is very warm (120-1300F).
10. When the pie crust has completed blind baking, place the toasted pecans in the baked crust.
11. Gently pour in the warm filling.
12. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 3250F (1650C), or until the filling has set, but still soft to the touch. Check the pie throughout the baking time – if the crust edges are becoming too dark, cover with foil.
13. Let the pie cool completely before serving. Pecan pie can be easily be refrigerated for a few days … and can be conveniently frozen for the regular treatment of the sweet-tooth tantrums!