Classic Southern Pecan Pie

November 16, 2010

 

Categories:
Basics, Dough & Desserts, Holidays, Local Eating, Pie, Recipes, Seasons


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The best pecan pies come from south of the Mason Dixon line, and different states have their own style. I am really fond of the Texas version (especially the pie from Good Company), but I also have an affinity for Georgia pies. As a kid, I spent a lot of summers near Macon. We used to ride horses through pecan groves, and more than once I was bucked off and abandoned in the dense woods. I think of having found an incredible pecan pie recipe as retribution for those lonesome, lost walks.

doughsmear

A classic pecan pie should have a few things: some orange zest, a flaky crust, and a layer of fat pecans embedded in soft caramel. I like it best when the pecans are candied through and though. This is accomplished by pouring a warm mixture of sugar and butter over the nuts after laying the pecans in the crust: they get  lacquered then rise up. They get extra crunchy when they bake. I will never understand the decision to leave a layer of naked nuts sitting on top of a pie.

readyforsugar

I like mine with coffee ice cream (a Northerner’s touch).

Classic Southern Pecan Pie

From the final issue of Gourmet.

Pastry dough (see below)
¾ stick butter
1 ¼ c packed brown sugar
¾ c corn syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp grated orange zest
¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 c pecans

Preheat oven to 350, with baking sheet on middle rack.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough with a rolling pin (also lightly floured) into a 12 inch round and fit into a 9 inch pie plate. (I had a slightly larger tart plate, and was able to roll the dough thin.)

Trim edges until you have a ½ inch overhang. Tuck extra dough under and lightly press against the rim of the plate, creating a lip. “Crimp decoratively,” Gourmet instructs.

Lightly prick bottom of pastry with a fork, then chill until firm, at least 30 minutes—or freeze 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

Add brown sugar, and whisk until smooth and thick.

Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest and salt.

Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.

Put pecans in pie shell and pour sugar mixture evenly over them. Bake until filling is set, approximately 50 minutes. Cool completely before eating.

Pastry Dough

1 ¼ c all purpose flour
1 stick cold, unsalted butter cut into ½ inch pieces
¼ tsp salt
3 to 5 T ice water

Blend together four, butter and salt in a bowl with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pearl-sized lumps.

Drizzle 3 T ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful to see if batter comes together. If not, add a bit more water until it does, ½ T at a time. DO NOT OVERWORK, or pastry dough will become tough.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions. Press each portion with the heal of your hand, smearing dough forward to distribute fat.

Gather dough together with a pastry scraper or butter knife and press into a 5 inch disk. Chill, in plastic wrap at least 1 hour. (Can be chilled up to 3 days.)

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