Pecan Pie

Because of When Harry Met Sally, whenever I hear “pecan pie” spoken, I hear it like this. Here’s a Saturday—bake this pie and watch Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal fall in love. I had never eaten pecan pie before, because until last year I didn’t like pecans, but now, I think it tastes like forkful after forkful of praline. Mmm. Image

Pecan Pie

Adapted from Baking Illustrated


½ stick cold unsalted butter

3 tbsp cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces

4-5 tbsp ice water

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided use

1/2 tsp. table salt (I used sea salt)

1 Tbsp. sugar

Cut the butter into 1/4 ” slices, then into quarters. Measure the shortening and cut it into small pieces. Lay it all out on a sheet of wax paper and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Process  flour with the salt and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add the butter and shortening and process in short, quick pulses, until dough comes together in uneven clumps. (Don’t use a continuous pulse, as this incorporates the fat too quickly.) All the flour should be coated, and the dough should kind of look like cottage cheese curds. Scrape down dough and add remaining cup of flour; pulse again, with short, quick pulses, until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl, about 4-6 quick pulses. Using feeding tube, pour water mixture into bowl and again use short, quick pulses to incorporate into dough. Pulse till dough is mixed and comes together. You should be able to see tiny pieces of butter in the dough. Remove dough from work bowl and flatten into a 4″ disk and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days, or freeze for later use.Image

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F. Place oven rack in lowest position and place a rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack. Roll out chilled dough into a circle, about 13″ diameter, using two sheets of wax paper.Image

Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes, and then freeze until it is very cold, 20 minutes. Remove from the freezer and press a double 12 inch sheet of heavy-duty tin foil into the pie shell and fold the edges to protect the fluted edge.

Load 2 cups of pie weights over the foil. I was like, what the heck is a pie weight? They recommended metal or ceramic, who has pie marbles sitting around in the kitchen?! I decided to go for efficiency, and I put 2 cups of my pecans onto the foil to let them toast while the dough baked (worked great, but I’m not sure what the point of the pie weight is). I forgot to take pictures because Janelle was over making me laugh.

Bake until the dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes, leaving the foil on. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake 5-10 more minutes, or till crust is golden brown. Cool slightly.

INGREDIENTS for the Pie Filling

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces

DIRECTIONS for the filling:

Melt the butter in a medium heatproof bowl set in a skillet of water maintained at just below a simmer. Remove the bowl from the skillet; stir in the sugar and salt with a wooden spoon until the butter is absorbed. Beat in the eggs, then the corn syrup and vanilla. Return the bowl to hot water; stir until the mixture is shiny and hot to the touch, about 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat; stir in the pecans.

As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 275 degrees F. Pour the pecan mixture into the hot pie shell.

Bake on the middle rack until the pie looks set and yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed with the back of a spoon, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pie to a rack; cool completely, at least 4 hours.

Tasty tasty. 4-5 stars. A little too sweet for me, but that, I gather, is pecan pie. KP took it to share with our friends, the Rabatins, who both said they loved it. KP said it was way better than new film for The Great Gatsby.Image

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7 thoughts on “Pecan Pie

    1. Decadence, indeed. Yes, Baking Illustrated has a chocolate pecan pie listed next and I almost did that first, but since I had never had pecan pie ever–had to start with the basic. Thanks for reading!

  1. Ha, I love that voice scene – I’d forgotten about that! I can totally picture you making a funny face while imitating that voice – love it. I share your general disdain for pecans, but in the right pie they go down a lot easier 🙂 Happy Saturday to you!

    1. Oh, I love pecans now. I have loved pecans ever since Mr. Billy in North Carolina gave me those he collected from his backyard tree, which, alas, fell to the last hurricane.

  2. Hey Rach!
    Pie weights are to prevent bubbles from forming in your crust and the edges from shrinking during blind baking (without filling). Without true pie weights (unitaskers, which Alton Brown would frown upon) many folks substitute dry beans. Another option is to dock the bottom with a fork like a pizza crust. However, once again you have astounded me with your ingenuity – roasting the pecans while blind baking!! Incredible!

    1. Chris! Trusted chemist and guru of the kitchen! Thank you for weighing in on this. We wouldn’t want pie shrinkage, now would we? I like this term “blind baking” — like phantom baking, from the pie crust’s perspective. T minus one week til’ MD, eh? CONGRATULATIONS! I’ll bake you and Ariel your own pie, how’s that?

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