February 3, 2014

Reader, I baked a pumpkin pie.

Charlotte Bronte knows it, I know it, and you know it, too: While some of us have the self-restraint to say no to a "circlet of delicate pastry," others of us could never resist. I fall into the latter camp. Perhaps it was this same self-restraint that drove Jane to run away instead of succumbing to her desires and living with Mr. Rochester in sin. You've got to give the girl credit for listening to reason...but that doesn't make up for the fact that she's crazy for denying herself the pastry in the below passage:
Bessie had been down into the kitchen, and she brought up with her a tart on a certain brightly painted china plate, whose bird of paradise, nestling in a wreath of convolvuli and rosebuds, had been wont to stir in me a most enthusiastic sense of admiration; and which plate I had often petitioned to be allowed to take in my hand in order to examine it more closely, but had always hitherto been deemed unworthy of such a privilege. This precious vessel was now placed on my knee, and I was cordially invited to eat the circlet of delicate pastry upon it. Vain favour! coming, like most other favours long deferred and often wished for, too late! I could not eat the tart: and the plumage of the bird, the tints of the flowers, seemed strangely faded! I put both plate and tart away.
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Speaking of self-restraint (or lack thereof), I am moving this month...which means that it doesn't make sense for me to buy anything right now. But we always want what we can't have, don't we? Oh, how I find the consumerist, materialistic beast in me wanting things. Unnecessary things. Like a microwave rice cooker (cool...but I have a rice cooker already). And this egg and muffin toaster (once again, cool...but an impractical use of counter space).

So, when my coworkers decided to organize a pie potluck in honor of National Pie Day (Jan. 23), I wanted to buy things that would help me make a buttery pie crust. Like a food processor. And a rolling pin.

Then I snapped out of it and decided to find a way to bake a fantastic pie without buying either of those things. Spoiler alert: I succeeded!

This marked the first time I made a pie all by myself. In the past, I always thought it was too complicated to make every component from scratch. But once again, Martha Stewart saved me from my deluded perception of reality. Making a pie can be almost as easy as, well, eating it. Especially if you opt for a press-in shortbread crust. Plus, it's like eating a cookie and pie at the same time. Two desserts with one stone, er, pie.

Before embarking on my pie adventure, I did plenty of research on The Kitchn (which posted an intriguing take on pumpkin pie made with filling that was smoothed out in the food processor, cooked and pressed through a strainer, and then finally poured into a warm crust). But, (1) I didn't have a food processor, and (2) it seemed far too complicated for a first-time pie baker like me. I think pumpkin pie should be easy, or you won't enjoy it as much later. I didn't alter Martha's recipe much; just upped the amount of cinnamon and ginger to ensure a flavorful filling. This pie was delicious, if I do say so myself. Is it irresistible enough to entice the Jane Eyres of the world to eat? I think so. Scratch that. I know so. Bake one and see for yourself.

Pumpkin Pie with No-Roll Crust
adapted from Martha Stewart
Shortbread Crust
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt

15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

First, prepare the crust by mixing the butter with the sugar and yolks until combined. Work in the flour and salt with your fingers until the dough is crumbly. Press into a 9" pie pan. It will not seem like enough crust, but just press it as thin as you can without making holes in the crust. The crust should be able to go up the sides at least a little bit. Freeze for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake the frozen crust for 12-15 minutes. Let cool. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling, whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into the cooled crust until it reaches the edges (you may have extra filling that you can save for a mini pie). Place the pie pan on a cookie sheet or baking sheet and bake for 65 to 75 minutes (mine took 75 min., but your oven may be hotter). How do you know when it's done? It should still be slightly jiggly but mostly firm.

Let cool on a wire rack and refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours).


Yi @ Yi Reservation said...

Hello Emily, thanks for visiting my blog so I could find yours! What a fun way to spice up the recipes with poems! Props to you for making a pumpkin pie from scratch. I bet it tasted really good! Keep up the good work and good luck with the move :)

thefattyreader said...

Thanks, Yi! :)