Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie 2 5

I get a lot of questions from readers I meet about my husband.  The main one is, “why is he called the Pie?”  Well, I’ll tell you why.  And this goes back about nine or ten years, back when we had first met, and long before we started dating.  It’s really a great story.  I’ll tell it to you here:

One day, he told me that he really liked pie.

Yep.  That’s the whole story.  That’s why he’s called the Pie.  And now you know.  I hope you aren’t too disappointed.

Pumpkin Pie 20

Sometimes, the Pie’s favourite pie is blueberry.  Sometimes it’s apple.  I can’t keep track.  But I know that pumpkin pie, even though it doesn’t qualify as a “true pie”, is at the top of my husband’s list of favourite pies.  And now that I have sort of mastered the art of vodka pie crust, and especially considering the amount of pumpkin purée I have in my possession, it is a logical choice, and this recipe looks lovely.  So here it is, a pumpkin pie that is so from scratch with its home-made pastry crust and fresh pure pumpkin that it’s almost like I made it entirely by hand-stitching individual atoms together (I can do that, you know).

Pumpkin Pie 1

So, now.  It’s been a while since I made that vodka pie crust from Smitten Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated, so I think I’m going to lay it all out for you again, just so we both can get some practice.  If you like, you can take some more of Smitten Kitchen’s tips on better pastry from her second tutorial.  Like her, I’m not a fan of shortening, so I went with an all-butter version of the crust today.  And this dough recipe makes enough dough for two single crusts, so I guess that means I HAVE to make two pumpkin pies.  I will try to sneak one into the freezer so the Pie doesn’t eat it too fast.  That way later on when he grumbles about having no more pie I can dramatically reveal that he is wrong.  I like doing that.

Pumpkin Pie 2 11

For the pastryyou need to make sure everything is cold.  If your kitchen is frigid, like mine, this is easy.  For everyone else, just keep chucking stuff in the refrigerator if need be.  Ingredients.  Tools.  Bowls.  You name it.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt.

Pumpkin Pie 2

Cut 1 1/4 cup cold butter into cubes and make sure it’s cold (re-chill it after you cut it before adding it to the mix).

Pumpkin Pie 3

Dump that into the flour and use a pastry blender to chop it into tiny buttery-floury pieces.  You want to keep going and going and going, using a knife to clean off your pastry blender occasionally, until you end up with a mixture that closely resembles cornmeal.

Pumpkin Pie 4

Put a dishtowel under the bowl to keep it from sliding around on you.

Pumpkin Pie 5

Here’s the right consistency. You still need whole chunks of butter in there but you want them small.

Pumpkin Pie 6

Drizzle 1/4 cup cold vodka (keep that baby in the freezer) and 1/4 cup ice water over the mixture.

Pumpkin Pie 7

Use a big rubber spatula and a folding motion to bring everything together.

Pumpkin Pie 9

You don’t want to stir so much as squish and squash everything into one big blob.  It will be pretty tacky, but that stickiness will disappear when the vodka burns off in baking.  You can use your hands to gently squish the remainder together, but don’t work it too much. If you feel you need to add more liquid, drizzle a bit more vodka onto it, but just a little.

Pumpkin Pie 10

Divide your blob into two even pieces and flatten them into disks.  Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap for at least 15 minutes, and for up to 2 days.

Pumpkin Pie 11

When your dough is sufficiently chilled, lay a piece of plastic wrap out on your work surface.  Unwrap one of the disks (keep the other in the fridge) and place it in the centre of the plastic wrap. Place another sheet of wrap over top.

Pumpkin Pie 14

Working from the inside and moving out, use a rolling pin to flatten your disk into a nice round piece of pastry.  You’ll need a rough circle of about 12″ in diameter to fit in a 9″ pie pan.  Most plastic wrap is about 12″ wide, so you can use that as a guide.

Pumpkin Pie 15

Notice how you can see gobs of butter in my dough?  That means I will have some lovely flaky pastry.  As the butter melts it will leave a little open space, which will fill with steam from the vodka and water, which will in turn expand the empty space, making the proper pastry flake.

Pumpkin Pie 16

Chill your flattened pastry again for a bit.  If you put it on a baking sheet and chuck it in the fridge you should be good.  When you’re plopping it in your pie pan, make sure to remove the bottom layer of plastic wrap before rolling it over a rolling pin or folding it into quarters to place it in the pan.  I’ve done both methods here, so you can see what I mean.

Rolling pin:

Pumpkin Pie 17

Folding:

Pumpkin Pie 21

Gently lift the edges of the dough to make it easier to press into the bottom of the pan without tearing.

Pumpkin Pie 18

Trim off the excess pastry from the edges of the pan.

Pumpkin Pie 19

I used a fork to press the edges more firmly down onto the glass.  Chuck those back in the fridge when you’re done.

Pumpkin Pie 25

I had some scraps left over from trimming, so I cut up a small apple, sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar, and rolled out the scraps again to form a small circle.

Pumpkin Pie 23

I put the fruit on one half, folded it over, and pinched the edges shut.  Then I put it in a sprayed pan and baked it with the pie.

Pumpkin Pie 24
It looks a little demented, but we’re not going for high quality here, just a snack.

For the pie filling, you need some pumpkin purée.  You can be lazy and buy the stuff that already has the eggs and spices in it and whatever and just dump that in your pre-bought frozen pie shell but that’s just not cool here at Ali Does It.  Make sure if you’re using canned pumpkin that it’s pure pumpkin, without the sugar and salt and all things spicy.

Now, you American folks are likely working from the 14 oz can of Libby’s or whatever it is you have.  Fourteen ounces is about 1 3/4 cups of pumpkin goodness.  Here in the FAR NORTH of Canada we have E.D. Smith pumpkin, which comes in 28 oz cans (~3 1/2 cups), so we generally use half a can for one pie, a whole can for two.  And of course I’m working from a I-have-way-too-much-pumpkin-purée-in-my-fridge perspective.  So I will be using that instead of the canned stuff.

Preheat your oven now, to 425°F and position a rack in the centre of the oven.

Beat up 4 eggs in a large bowl.  Whisk in 3 1/2 cups pumpkin purée, 2 cans (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk (I believe some countries sell condensed milk in 400 mL cans — I would just use the whole can anyway for a slightly sweeter pie), 1 cup packed brown sugar, and 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin Pie 12

Take your pie shells out of the fridge and divide the mixture between them.  You may end up with extra filling (lord knows I always do).  I emptied it into a smaller pie pan and baked it as-is, for a sort of pumpkin pudding.

Pumpkin Pie 26

Chuck the pies (and whatever else you now have on the go) in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Then reduce the heat to 375°F and keep baking for about 35 more minutes, until the pastry is all golden and lovely and you can stick a knife in the centre of the pie and bring it out clean again (i.e. the filling has set).  You can see that our crustless pie and the turnover turned out equally well, though with them in the oven everything took an extra 15 minutes or so to cook. Let the pie cool completely on a rack and refrigerate until ready to serve.  You can heat it up again if you like.  We enjoy ours with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.  Yum!

Pumpkin Pie 2 12

Advertisements

Vote for my pumpkin!

You’ll see more about this in my post tomorrow, but the Pie and I have entered a contest over at Movita Beaucoup.

Please feel free to vote for my pumpkin and not the Pie’s.  But if you like his better then I guess it’s okay if you vote for his …

See the entries HERE!

And as a reward, see this corgi that isn’t mine but is also awesome.

WOOO! It’s Ali Does It Herself’s 500th Post! And we’re making CAKE!

500 Cake 26

So on the 15th day of March, 2010, I caved to peer pressure (*ahem*, Kª), and I started this blog.  Ali Does It … Herself.  That sounded about right.  The Pie and I try to be as self-sufficient as possible, and having been raised by very DIY-oriented parents, I figured I might as well start telling the world about my own experiments in grown-up living.  Five hundred (!) posts later, we’re still going strong.  Ali Does It has been featured THREE times on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page, twice on FoodPress.com, and last year won third place in both the Canadian Weblog Awards and the Canadian Blog Awards competitions.  I’m so grateful for the 1600+ subscribers who visit regularly and for everyone who has come to see and read in the past almost-three years.  If you’re reading this, then thank you so much for coming!

It’s amazing what this blogging experience has taught me to do.  Previously, I cooked, and fixed stuff, and did crafty things, and I was pretty good at it, but I never really tried to venture too far out of my comfort zone.  Now, if someone sends me a message saying, “do you know how to do this?”, my answer is usually “why yes!” (ha. rarely), or “no, but I’ll figure it out.”  And then I do.   It’s very empowering to know that doing stuff on your own is not as scary as you think it is.  The internet (and my parents) are very good teachers.

500 Cake 25

My very first post was about cake — wedding cupcakes, to be specific.  And if you’ll look below, you can see all the other posts I have made about cake and cupcakes since then (not to mention the posts about cookies, and brownies, and knitting, and sewing …).  In commemoration of that, I think I’ll make another cake!

500 Cake 29

I’ve been brainstorming with the Pie and our friends about what to create for this particular occasion, but they’ve been absolutely useless.  They keep suggesting that I make a cake THAT I’VE ALREADY MADE.  What would be the point of that?  Well, it’s not called Ali Does It on the Advice of All the People She Knows, after all, so I started thinking about what *I* wanted.  Something a little bit fun, not too big, not too complicated, but a wee bit different. And something that I have made up all by myself. So here goes.

500 Cake 28

What about a berry cake?  I want something pink.  And I have a temptingly large container of partridgeberries in my freezer, which I picked up from Bidgood’s in the Goulds over the summer. If you know anything about this place, you’ll know that Bidgood’s is where you go to get stuff like this. That same day we picked up moose burgers and a rabbit pie. Both excellent.

500 Cake 1

Now, I’m making this into a layer cake with icing, but you could easily skip the cutting and frosting and have it as a nice coffee cake. It’s a versatile little thing, and it will freeze beautifully, unfrosted. So. Take your favourite 9″ x 13″ baking pan/casserole dish and butter it generously. Plop a sheet of parchment in the middle and butter that, too. It will just make it easier to get the cake out in one piece. Preheat your oven to 375°F while you’re at it.

500 Cake 5

Grab yourself some partridgeberries.  You’ll probably only find them frozen, but if you’re in a part of the world where they come fresh, then more power to you.  If you don’t know what a partridgeberry is, it looks like a small cranberry, but isn’t as tart.  You may know it better as a lingonberry or a cowberry.  You could substitute other berries in this recipe, obviously.  If you go the cranberry route, though, I’d add a bit more sugar.  Anyway, you’ll want about 2 cups partridgeberries for this cake.

DSCN4429

Plop them in a pan with about a tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and stew on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries are thawed and juices are running everywhere.  Pop a few with the back of your spoon to increase the juiciness, and remove from the heat so they cool down a bit.

500 Cake 4

In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup butter with 2 cups granulated sugar.

500 Cake 6

Add in 6 eggs, one at a time.

500 Cake 7

Then jump in your stewed berries, along with 1 cup sour cream.

500 Cake 9

Almost ready — now, a little bit at a time, stir in 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

500 Cake 10

Smooth your batter into your prepared pan.  I love that delicate pink colour.  Too bad it never lasts through the baking without artificial boosts — blech.

DSCN4439

Bake your cake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.  Mine took 47 minutes.  Place it on a rack to cool, and when it’s cooled enough to tip out, let it cool completely on a rack before frosting.

500 Cake 12

A note on frosting:

Now, you don’t HAVE to frost your cake.  That is entirely up to you.  But I’m going all out here, and I feel that fruits like this need a bit of cream cheese in the frosting to make me super happy.  If you’re going to layer this cake, make the full amount of frosting I’ve set out here.  If you’re just going to frost the top, then make about 1/3 to 1/2 of the amount laid out below.  And if you want a non-chocolate version (also yummy), substitute vanilla for the Kahlua and leave out the cocoa.

500 Cake 16

In a large bowl, beat together 1 cup butter and 1 250g package plain cream cheese.  Make sure both of them are soft but not melty.

500 Cake 13

Tip in about 5 tablespoons powdered cocoa together with 1 tablespoon Kahlua (or other coffee/chocolate liqueur of your choice) and mix that in thoroughly.  Once you get that in, add about 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar.  You may need more or less depending on your preference.  Beat that to a pulp.

500 Cake 14

Then pour in 1 cup cream, whipping cream if you’ve got it.  Or leave it out, if you want a frosting that is a bit stiffer.  Lovely.  Chuck that in the fridge to chill while you wait for your cake to cool.

500 Cake 15

Then I simply cut the cake in half down the middle, like so.

DSCN4451

Then cut each half horizontally so I had four slabs of cake.  Slather on some icing between layers, plop the next one on, rinse, repeat.

500 Cake 19

It reminds me of a massive peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

500 Cake 20

I didn’t bother with a crumb coat when doing the outside, and I didn’t really go to too much trouble getting the icing all perfect (because I really don’t roll that way, don’t you know that by now?).

500 Cake 22

I think I have laundry on the brain — I seem to do it often enough.  It’s not quite the celebratory bunting you were expecting, eh? Fitting, though.

500 Cake 21

Thanks for seeing me through 500 posts as I learn to be a grown-up.  Here’s to 500 more!

500 Cake 23

Thirty-Four other posts about CAKE (brownies, bars, and other eatables and noneatables not included, but feel free to use the search function on the sidebar to find whatever you want!):

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Raspberry Ice Cream Meringue Sundae

Snow Day Dinner

This was dessert when Fussellette came to dinner last week.

Started first with a meringue (my recipe is from The Joy of Cooking, but you can see a chocolate version here).

We plopped on the meringue some raspberry ice cream (see post here, but minus the vinegar).  Then we topped it with whipped cream, melted chocolate, and fresh blackberries.  Sweet and simple.

Snow Day Dinner

Have you tried Fussell’s?

Deep Dish

This is how Fussellette got her name.

She was sitting in the MUGS room with the Pie, talking about, of all things, pie (we don’t call him that because he’s sweet and flaky, after all).  They were discussing the merits of ice cream versus whipped cream as a topping.

Fussellette, a native Newfoundlander, mentioned that growing up, she had always had Fussell’s on her pies and desserts.

Deep Dish

The Pie’s first reaction was along the lines of, “what on earth are you talking about?  Fussell’s?”

I’ve never heard of it either.  So Fussellette bought us some.

Apparently it’s a sterilized thick cream in a can, a Newfoundland staple.  Ostensibly it’s from the Golden Butterfly Brand, but on the back you can see it’s distributed by Smucker’s, which is part of Nestlé.  Globalization …

It’s rather clotted and yellowish, but tastes just like what it is, thickened cream.

Deep Dish

We plopped it on our pie.  It was good.

Deep Dish

A Whopper of a Cake Topper

Pete & Marley's Wedding
On Saturday, my cousin P-did married the lovely M and they asked me to make the topper for their cupcake tower.

After my adventures with fondant and ivy back in June, this was a real piece of cake.  I could even re-use the colours and fondant I had leftover!
Cake Topper

I even had the recipe down pat, using a single batch of the vanilla cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting I used so many times before, and baking the excess into cupcakes for us to eat in anticipation of the big event.   The heat made the fondant crack a bit, but all in all it worked out.
Cake Topper

Because I’ve already posted about this recipe (twice), I’m going to spare you with the details, and just titillate you with lots of nummy photos instead.
Cake Topper

Enjoy!
Cake Topper

Cake Topper

Cake Topper

What Can You Do with Leftover Ganache?

I have more ganache leftover from the Red Velvet Comeback Cupcakes than is really good for my sanity.  There are/is/are about 3 cups of ganache sitting in my fridge.

The good thing is that you can freeze ganache.  Did you know that?  While it’s frozen you can figure out what the heck to do with it.

This particular ganache is just cream and chocolate, and has a consistency of chocolate pudding. Mmm, pudding …

So what can you do with ganache that’s lying around?

If it’s thicker,  you can make truffles.  If it’s thinner, you can make fondue.

If it’s as it is, you can ice cakes and brownies with it.

You can pour it into hot milk for hot chocolate.

Add it to your coffee for a mocha latte.

Today, however, we are going to make ourselves some cookies, then make ganache sandwiches with them, then FREEZE them.  It’ll be like ice cream sandwiches, but wayyyy better.

I picked our recipe for margarine chocolate chip cookies, because they’re the biggest and fluffiest.  But I made them twice as big.  I ended up with 28 cookies.

Make sure your ganache is super chilly.  To be on the safe side, chuck the mixing bowl you’re using in the freezer for a while as well.

Whip that ganache up to a frothy amazingness.

Spoon fluffy ganache in-between your cooled cookies.  Sandwich them together.  Otherwise they ain’t sammiches.

Wrap them in waxed paper, seal them in a plastic bag, and chuck them in the freezer.

The Pie and I each ate one before freezing.  The sweetness was sweeeeeeeeeet.

Also there was a wee bit of ganache leftover, but neither of us could pluck up the nerve to eat any more.  These babies are pretty intense.