YOU GOT THIS! — PERFECT PUMPKIN PIE

There are certain dishes that everybody should have in their repertoire. In our fundamental recipes column, LOVE&’s food experts provide the 411 on how to make the most delicious basics without fancy equipment or specialty ingredients. You got this.

Whomever came up with the expression “easy as pie” was a first class jokester—right up there with a certain Queen who sniffed, “let them eat cake.” Unless you grew up watching Grandma cutting butter into flour, sprinkling it with ice water and painstakingly rolling it into a smooth and near translucent crust, the process can be intimidating and mysterious. The filling is no biggie, but the trick is getting the “dough” right. For one thing, the grainy pile of ingredients that you will shape into your discs for rolling out doesn’t resemble any “dough” that even an experienced bread baker or cookie maker has ever popped into the oven. Stay calm and follow these instructions and we promise the result will be a golden, flaky crust filled with rich, spicy pumpkin filling. If you planned on buying a pie to contribute to your family’s Thanksgiving feast this year, save your money. Grandma will be proud.

Basic Pie Dough (for a double crust or two single crust pies)

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 sticks unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch dice

1 tsp. salt

5 Tbs. ice water

Extra flour for dusting

The two main secrets to making a great crust are keeping the ingredients cold and not overworking the dough. Cut the butter into cubes and return to the refrigerator. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter and toss to coat with flour. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of ice water.  Using your fingers or a pastry blender, combine the flour and butter into a coarse meal with some pea sized pieces of butter remaining. Add up to three more tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time.You can also pulse the mixture in a food processor, but we suggesting making the crust by hand until you master it—you’ll have more control of the outcome. Divide the dough in half and turn each out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands and the plastic wrap, press and shape each into a disc of dough about one inch thick. There will still be            visible pieces of butter in the dough—don’t worry, that’s what makes a flakey crust. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to a day.

For a single crust pie, remove one of the discs from the refrigerator and let it rest for a few minutes (you can freeze the other for up to a month). Place on a smooth, floured surface—preferably on a silicon mat. A large silicon mat is one piece of equipment we high recommend purchasing. It turns your dining table or kitchen counter into a pro baking space. Sprinkle your hands, the rolling pin, and the disc lightly with flour. Roll from the center to the edge rotating the dough occasionally. Add a bit more flour as necessary. If it starts to stick to the rolling surface, sprinkle a little flour underneath. There is an excellent video of rolling dough here.

When the dough is about 1/8” thick, carefully fold it in half and lay into the pie plate (glass is best for fruit pies). Unfold and gently press it into the plate so there are no air pockets. Patch any tears with extra dough—no one will be the wiser. Use kitchen scissors to evenly trim the excess, leaving a 1/2” overhang. Fold the overhanging dough in half backwards and gently use your fingers to make 1/4” high “wall” around the top of the pie plate. To flute the edge, gently press your index finger into the wall and form a little curve around it with the thumb and index finger of your other hand. Continue around the entire edge. If your filling isn’t ready, return to the refrigerator.

PUMPKING PIE FILLING

This filling is made with canned pumpkin and unsweetened evaporated milk. Yes, you can get fancy and artisanal with cooking a sugar pumpkin and making a heavy cream custard, but trust us, this simpler version is as delicious and more predictable. Once your ingredients are assembled, it comes together quickly, so you can make while the dough is resting in the refrigerator and the oven pre-heats.

3/4 cup dark brown sugar (granulated or light brown are also fine depending on your preference)

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground ginger (you can cut back on any of the spices up to 50 percent, but we like a warm, assertive flavor)

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of finely ground black pepper (optional but tasty)

3 large eggs (room temperature)

1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin puree

1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir pumpkin puree and dry ingredients into eggs. Gradually fold in the evaporated milk. Pour into the pie shell.

Bake in the lower third of the oven for 15 minutes at 425. Lower to 350 and bake for another 40-50 minutes until the filling looks firm and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Depending on your oven it might take longer, don’t sweat it and just keep checking regularly. Cool on a rack for at least two hours. Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.