Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Pie

Best Pie Bakeoff 2008 Entry #11

Recipe: Stirling's Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Pie Category: Classic

We do love pumpkin pie; it's a classic for a reason. Here's Stirling's entry into this classic form of pie. She bakes up one of the prettiest pies we've seen, courtesy of cute crust cutters from Williams-Sonoma. She also has great step-by-step photos to guide you in recreating this crust.

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Where is this recipe from? The recipe for the crust is from my friend, Shirley's, grandmother. Shirley also gave me the tip of using waxed paper. It makes transferring pie crusts almost fool proof!

The pumpkin filling is from the November 2008 issue of Fine Cooking. They say that this is the perfect pie, and I think they may be right.

Why is this the BEST pie recipe you've got? The filling is undeniably delicious because of the heavy cream and the eggs. The many spices mixed with the cognac make this pie Thanksgiving worthy. I made the pie for a friend's birthday a couple of weeks ago and got lots of quiet eaters! People loved how smooth and flavorful it is. Yum!

The leaves around the edge, of course, taste the same as the rest of the crust, but they give the edge polish and heightens expectations. I prefer a crust with more shortening than butter because it makes the crust flaky, but different shortenings give the crust different flavors. I use an organic shortening that I find tastes much better than Crisco.

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Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Pie

For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold shortening
2 tablespoons cold butter
4 tablespoons ice cold water

For the filling:
15-oz. can pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs. cognac or brandy
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

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Make crust dough:
Mix flour with salt. Cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like fine meal (see picture). Cut in the butter coarsely--this makes a flaky crust. Both of these cut steps can be done in a food processor by pulsing. Sprinkle with water, mixing lightly with a fork until all the mixture is moistened. Alternatively in a food processor, pulse until the dough starts to gather (see picture). Bring dough together and press gently into a smooth ball. Wrap ball in plastic wrap and chill for half an hour.

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Roll out dough:
Roll dough out between sheets of wax paper. The recipe makes enough for 2 9" pie crusts. You will have plenty, so don't worry if the edges look cracked. The edges will be cut off and used for edge decoration. When the crust is much larger than your pan, carefully lift the top layer of wax paper off the crust. Turn over the crust and transfer it to the pan. Make sure that it is even. Then you take the top layer of wax paper off. Cut off the extra crust. Roll out the extra crust and punch out leaf designs for the edge of the pie shell (see picture). I bought the leaf stamp at Williams and Sonoma, but you can do the same with a paring knife.

Poke holes through the bottom of the crust with a fork. Put in a sheet of parchment or wax paper on top of pie shell and weigh it down with pie weights or beans (see picture). Bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes or until the dough looks dry. Let crust cool down completely before filling.

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Make the filling and bake the pie:
Heat the oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, cream and cognac. (see picture)

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, pepper and cloves. Whisk the sugar mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

Pour the filling into the cooled piecrust. Bake until the pie is set around the outside but still slightly wet and jiggly in the center, about 1 hour. The filling will continue to set as it cools. Let the pie cool completely and the refrigerate for at least 2 hours (yeah, right!) and up to 2 days before serving. I have let the pie cool for 30 minutes before digging in. It can be hard to wait sometimes.

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(Images: L. Stirling Churchman)