Nov. 19 2018
On Thanksgiving, is there a dessert more classic than pie? Apple, pumpkin, pecan—those circular beauties sit on the table with pride, waiting to be gobbled up by hungry family members. While you might never have cooked a dessert for Thanksgiving in your life (thanks talented aunts and grandparents for always bringing that decade-old recipe magic!), this year, we suggest showing up to your gathering with an offering that will get you labeled the new pastry chef in the fam. Bubby’s—one of NYC’s most iconic restaurants, loved by Bobby Flay and Alex Guarnaschelli—has shared some of their fan-favorite pie recipes, to help you make this Thanksgiving a little sweeter.
First things first, the pie crust:
All-Butter Pastry Pie Dough (8-10 inch single crust)
- 4 to 5 tbsp ice cold water
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
- Measure out the water for the crust (with a bit of extra water in the cup in case you need a touch more) and then add ice cubes. Chill the water in the freezer (water should be very cold, but not frozen).
- Measure out the flour (unsifted) by leveling off a dry measuring cup, and add to a large bowl. Add the salt to the flour and give it a quick stir to combine evenly.
- Using cold butter, measure out the amount you need, and then coat the cold, solid stick with the flour in the bowl. Using a dough scraper or a long butcher knife, cut the butter lengthwise in half, and then lengthwise in quarters, coating each newly cut side with flour as you go. Dice the butter into ¼-inch cubes (or 1-inch sticks if using a food processor). Break up any pieces that stick together and toss them all to coat them with flour (if it is a warm day, chill this mixture briefly in the freezer before continuing).
- Using a pastry cutter, press the blades through the mixture, bearing down repeatedly like you would to mash potatoes. Repeat this gesture until the largest pieces of fat are the size of shelling peas and the smallest are the size of lentils (none smaller). Do not get overenthusiastic here–this size range makes for excellent flakiness. Re-chill if necessary.
- When adding the water, begin with a fully chilled flour-and-fat mixture and ice cold water. Be judicious, even stingy, with the water. Do not add all the water at once; it must be dispersed into the mixture incrementally. Add water, two or three tablespoons at first, quickly tossing the mixture with your hands after each addition with the light upward motion to distribute the water evenly throughout. Work the dough as little as possible.
- Continue adding little bits of water at a time. When there are no floury bits anymore — just little comet-like cobbles — slow down and sprinkle or flick water in at this point. One drop can make the difference and bring it all together. The balance can shift quickly from crumbly to wet.
- To test the dough for consistency, lightly pat together some dough the size of a tennis ball. If the ball crumbles apart or has lots of dry-looking cracks in it, the dough is still too dry; let it break apart. Add a drop or two of water to the outside of the ball and work it just a little. If it holds and feels firm and supple, mop up any remaining crumbs with the ball — if they pick up easily, the dough is probably wet enough. If they fall back into the bowl, you might need a touch more water. The pastry should be just a little bit tacky when you touch it.
- Shape the dough into one round ball with your hands. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour to relax and slow the gluten development and re-chill the fat. In practical terms, this cold rest makes the dough easier to roll out.
- When chilled, unwrap the dough and place it on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface like a wooden chopping block or a countertop. Keep a little mound of flour off to the side to pull from as needed.
- Gently press the ball down with the palm of your hand to flatten it into a round, flat, disk, about two inches high. Sprinkle the flattened dough with flour. Start the rolling pin in the center and keep rolling the dough from the center outward — using more pressure in the center and less as you near the edge. Take care not to roll beyond the outside edge or it will get too thin. If the edges start to crack and separate, gently squeeze them back together. Scatter flour across the rolling surface and flip the puck over.
- Strive to make the thickness of the dough as even as possible—about ⅛-inch thick by the end. Loosely fold the circle in half, then in quarters. Center the tip of the wedge in the pie plate and unfold the pie dough very gently. Lift the edges inward a bit to help the dough settle into the edges of the pan on its own accord without forcing it. Don’t press or stretch the dough.
- After lining the pie pan and allowing the dough to settle into it completely, trim the excess dough — about ¾ inch beyond the edge of the pan — with the pastry cutter or the tip of a sharp knife. Roll the trimmed dough edge and rest it on the lip of the tin. Work your way around the edge continuously, striving for a rolled edge pretty even in thickness — about ½ inch. The easiest way to crimp the edge of a single-crust pie is by pressing the tines of a fork evenly around the edge. You might need to dip the tines in flour occasionally to keep the dough from sticking to them.
- Chill the fully formed crust for at last 20 minutes before filling it or baking it.
Pumpkin Pie with Caramel Sauce and Candied Pecans
- Par-baked All-Butter Pastry Pie Crust for one 9-inch pie
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree (see below)
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1⅓ cups heavy cream
- 3 large eggs
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp chopped candied ginger (optional)
- 1 recipe Caramel Sauce (see below)
- 1 recipe Candied Pecans (see below)
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Take one small (3 to 4 pound) cheese pumpkin and carefully cut it into quarters. Remove the seeds (clean them, and then toast them with seasoned salt and paprika for a tasty snack) and set the slices in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for about an hour, until a knife slides through it easily. Uncover and let it cool at room temperature. Then scoop out the pumpkin meat into a mixing bowl. With a potato masher, smash it up until smooth, leaving no lumps at all.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the pumpkin, cream, eggs, sugars, and vanilla until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and blend just until combined. Sprinkle the ginger in the par-baked pie shell and pour the filling on top.
- Bake the pie on a rimmed baking sheet for 50-55 minutes, or until just barely set in the center. Wiggle the pie gently to test its doneness — look for a center that juggles but doesn’t slosh. The retained heat in the custard will continue cooking the middle as the pie cools off. Don’t overcook it or the texture won’t be as silky.
- Cool the pie completely on a cooling rack before cutting, at least a few hours, then refrigerate. Serve it cold with Caramel Sauce and Candied Pecans.
Note: Pumpkin Puree
Pie pumpkins are pale yellow on the outside. They’re often called cheese pumpkins because they have a creamier texture than the traditional orange Jack-O-Lantern-type of pumpkin, which are a bit stringy for pie. They’re usually a little smaller than the orange pumpkins. Still, a 3-pound pumpkin will yield enough puree for 6 to 7 pies. The puree does keep in the fridge for five or six days, and in the freezer for a month. You can also make a delicious soup or raviolis or any number of things with the remaining puree.
- 1½ cups sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
- Combine the sugar and water in a heavy pot over medium heat. Don’t stir it. Clip a candy thermometer to the side so that the tip is immersed in the water but not touching the bottom of the pan.
- Whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream. Set aside at room temperature.
- Cook the syrup until it is a rich caramel color (340 to 380° F on candy thermometer) and remove it from the heat. With the caramel pot off the heat, add the butter a little at a time, stirring quickly. Add the cream and sour cream and stir well.
- Cool and store caramel sauce in an airtight container.
- ¼ cup honey
- 1½ tbsp whiskey
- 1¾ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups raw, unsalted pecans
- Preheat oven to 300° F. In a large bowl, mix together the honey, whiskey, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Add the nuts and mix well.
- Spread the coated nuts on a large well-greased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. Stir and scrape them up every 5 minutes with a spatula and return the pan to the oven until the nuts smell good and are deep glossy brown. Be careful not to burn them.
- Remove the pan from the oven and scrape the nuts up with a spatula occasionally as they are cooling or they’ll stick together and to the sheet.
Cranberry-Pear Crumble Pie
- Pastry for All-Butter Pastry Pie Crust for one 9-inch pie
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 3 pounds ripe pear
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons full-fat sour cream
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch of salt
- Line a 9-inch pie tin with the bottom crust. Crimp and chill it.
- Preheat oven to 450F
- To make the crumble, combine the flour, butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the nuts and refrigerate the crumble until needed.
- Pour the lemon juice in the bottom of a large bowl. Peel, halve and core the pears with a melon baller, removing the stem and fiber, and slice them into the bowl, coating them with lemon as you go. In a separate bowl, mix together the cranberries, sugar, sour cream, flour, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add them to the pears just before you want to bake the pie, mix gently, and then taste a pear slice. Adjust seasoning and sugar to taste. Scrape the filling into the pie shell and sprinkle the top evenly with the crumble.
- Bake the pie on a lipped baking sheet for 10 minutes, or until the crust edge looks lightly browned. Turn the oven down to 350F and bake for at least 30 minutes, or until the filling juices are bubbling slow and the crumble is brown.
- Cool the pie on a cooling rack for at least 2 to 3 hours before serving. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature. Because this pie has sour cream in it, refrigerate it afterwards, lightly covered, for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.
Maple Pecan Pie
- Par-baked All-Butter Pastry Pie Crust for one 9-inch pie
- 2 cups shelled pecan halves
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon Cointreau or rum (optional)
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- If using pastry dough, par-bake the crust until it is blonde and blistered; set aside to cool.
- Turn the oven to 325F
- Toast the pecans on a baking sheet for 15 minutes, or until they are aromatic. Set aside to cool.
- Increase oven temperature to 350F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, syrup, molasses, zest, Cointreau, vinegar, and salt. Add the pecans. Stir gently. Fill the pie shell.
- Bake the pie on a lipped baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until the filling is set in the center and doesn’t jiggle when wiggled.
- Cool the pie completely on a cooling rack before cutting, at least a few hours. Serve at room temperature. Store the pie lightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.