Pecan and Date Pie

Best Pie Bakeoff 2008 Entry #28

Recipe: Rachel's Pecan and Date Pie Category: Classic

Here's a reworking of yet another classic pie - pecan, this time! This is a wonderfully sweet and gooey pie, made with dates. This recipe sounds absolutely scrumptious - read on for Rachel's recipe and her story of why this pie is the best.

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Where is this recipe from? I use a pie crust recipe that literally taught me how to me make a pie crust by Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible (available on Epicurious sans the whole wheat flour) and I want to spread the word to those who have been intimidated by pie crust. She gives you a LOT of information, but it all contributes to a deep understanding of how to do it right. Once you have it right, there is little more satisfying. I wanted to share that feeling with everyone else!

The filling is inspired by a Cooking Light recipe, that added dates to the filling. I have adapted the recipe many times and have come to my favorite version.
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Why is this the BEST pie recipe you've got? The unexpected addition of dates to this classic pie gives the filling a more organic texture and flavor than corn syrup alone. Make sure to use moist and sticky whole dates. Coat your knife with cooking spray for easy chopping. Lyle’s Golden Syrup has a mellower flavor and lighter color than corn syrup and even has a picture of Rose Levy Beranbaum (my patron saint of baking from whom this lengthy but failsafe [and confidence building] pie crust recipe came!) on the label with a recipe for her perfect pecan pie.
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Pecan and Date Pie

Crust:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2/3 cup (dip and sweep method) bleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (dip and sweep method) whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cream cheese, cold
1 tablespoon ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Filling:
1/2 cup whole pitted dates, chopped
1 cup pecan halves
3/4 cup dark corn syrup (or Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs

To prepare crust, cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.

Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a pea. (Toss with a fork to see it better.) Remove the cover and add the water and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together. Spoon it into the plastic bag.

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Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.

Wrap the dough with the plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight.

When ready to make a pie, remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator. Allow it to sit for up to 10 minutes, if necessary, to become pliable enough to roll.

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Cover the work surface with a large pastry cloth and lightly dust with flour. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to a circle about 1/8 inch thick by 12 inches in diameter between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Fold it carefully in half, then again into quarters and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Unfold the dough and trim the border just short of the edge of the plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325°.

To prepare filling, sprinkle dates and pecans evenly over bottom of crust. Combine corn syrup and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

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(Images: Rachel)

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