Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pumpkin Pie from Mark's Daily Apple

And with this post, it can never be said that I never cook any desserts around here.  As it was Christmas, I decided to make a pumpkin pie.  Christmas a year ago, I found this recipe from Mark's Daily Apple and as it was quite good, I decided to make it again this year.  Sadly, my pie did not turn out as well this year as it did the first time I made it.  But, this is lucky for you as I know why it did not turn out as well, and maybe you can learn from my misfortune.

I'll present the recipe as it should be made, and I'll put an asterisk next to the crucial points where I made errors that I think effected my result and explain them later in the post.  

First, I gathered my ingredients and preheated my oven to 350 degrees. 

"Ultimate Walnut Crust"

To make the crust you will need a 9 inch tart pan.  I've been thinking a bit as to whether or not any other baking vessel will do and its possible, but this pan is just the right size and makes the pie easy to remove.  

To make the crust, you grind the walnuts with some baking soda and salt until fine.  My mini-chopper is just the right size to process one pie crust.  Use your eye and stop when you think its at the consistency that will easily press into the tart pan and a texture that will taste smooth, like crust should.  

Once its fine, add the butter and pulse just until its combined.  

This next step, pressing the ground almonds into the tart pan, may be the most "difficult" in the entire recipe and its "difficult" only in that you need to work slowly to get the crust evenly distributed in the pan.  I poured my walnuts into my tart pan and used my hands to press it until it evenly covered my pan and sides.  

Its ready to bake.  

Put your pie crust filled tart pan on a sturdy cookie sheet* and bake it at 350 degrees* for 15 minutes.*

Pumpkin Filling

While the crust is baking, you can prepare the filling.  I failed to take pictures of this step, but it really is as easy as measuring out all of your ingredients into a bowl and mixing until well combined.  I did whisk my eggs first before adding the remaining ingredients.  The spices smell awesome even before the pie is in the oven.  

When the crust is done, simply pour the pumpkin filling into it.  You will likely have extra filling.  Both times I've made it I've had about 1/4 cup extra pie filling after filling my crust.  I smoothed the top of the pie with a spatula before putting it in the oven. 

I baked the pie for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.  The recipe omits the cooking temperature, but Mark provides it in the comments.  Here is my pretty pie once it finished baking.  

The recipe says to let the pie cool completely before serving.  I didn't have time to let mine cool completely.  I put my tart pan on a plate in the refrigerator to speed the cooling process.  

I cut a few slices and topped them with homemade whipped cream (yes, we were living on the wild side on Christmas).  

Accessibility & Cost of Ingredients:  Nothing in this recipe is particularly expensive.  If your "big box" grocery store has a well stocked spice aisle, you shouldn't have an issue finding everything you need there.  Make sure you get plain canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie puree.  

Preparation and Cook Time:  Crust: It took me 8 minutes and 45 seconds to prepare the crust for the oven.  The bake time for the crust is 15 minutes.  Pumpkin Filling:  This took me about 10 minutes but its really as fast as you can get the ingredients into the bowl.  You can do this while your crust is baking.  I tend to check my measurements once or twice when making spice heavy recipes like this to make sure I'm getting the right amounts in.  The bake time for the pie is 50 minutes.  Total Preparation/Cook Time:  Just under 1 hour and 14 minutes.  

Clean Up:  Pretty easy.  Everything I used went into the dish washer. 

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs up!  I believe the walnut crust takes pumpkin pie to a new level and is superior to pumpkin pies with a flour crust.  A frequent dinner guest of mine isn't paleo and pumpkin is his favorite pie.  We both agree that the traditional flour crust of a pumpkin pie is usually dry, tasteless, and chalky.  Not so with the flavorful, moist and tender walnut crust.  

Another great thing about this pie is that there really isn't that much sweetener in the pie.  It only takes 3 tablespoons of maple syrup.  Don't fret, the remaining near full bottle will not be calling my name from the refrigerator- I will either put in my recycling bin or given to a neighbor.  

Now where did I go wrong this time?  I burned my crust.  Oh sadness.  * Moment of Silence.*  The pie filling part of the pie still tasted great, but the crust was pretty black in places.  

The first time I made this recipe, I had all day to cook.  I made the pie early in the day, well ahead of cooking my dinner.  This year, due to travel, I had about 2.5 hours to cook my entire meal including the pie, in one oven.  Eek!  

Mistake #1:  I tried cooking the crust at a different temperature and misjudged an adjusted cooking time.  Before putting the pie into bake, it did not look or smell burnt, but evidently it was close.  Next time I will be sure to cook it as directed in the recipe and take it out of the oven promptly.  

Mistake #2    I used a thin sheet pan.  Last year, I used my nice thick Calphalon sheet pan that I think offered my crust a little more burn insurance than the thinner one I used this year.  Next time, I will use the heavier sheet pan.  

I threw the remaining pie away.  In a way, I'm glad this happened so I know the limits of this recipe and my multi-task/dish limits.  

If you have a special occasion coming up that is treat worthy, give this pumpkin pie a try!