Pumpkin Pie Throwdown


Last week I was invited to participate in an on-air Pumpkin Pie Bobby Flay-style “throwdown” with two television personalities from San Diego 6 News, our local CW affiliate here in San Diego. The challenge came about after I had appeared a month earlier with my peanut butter cookie recipe and a friendly peanut butter cookie competition between myself and meteorologist Jacqueline Bennett broke out. (A duel in which I prevailed, by the way, but that story is for another post.)

My competition for this contest was, once again, Jacqueline Bennett, who presented her version of pumpkin pie using condensed milk as the sweetener, as well as the morning news anchor Heather Myers, who prepared a gluten free pie with candied pecans. I prepared a pie from our Bake Sale Bakery recipe, which calls for eggs, heavy cream and milk to make the custard.

I arrived at the studio at an ungodly early hour with all the ingredients to make my filling, a parbaked crust (for the on-air demo), and a completed pie I had baked the night previous for the big taste test.

While most pumpkin pie recipes are very similar, and for the most part all are delicious, the Bakery recipe has one rather special ingredient: real maple syrup, which truly is a flavor changer and is the reason I believe that my pie won the competition. (Notice how I casually mentioned that?)

At Bake Sale we like the butter/vegetable shortening combination for the crust, because all that butter makes it taste great, plus a little bit of Crisco makes it extra flaky.

Here is a variation of our recipe at the bakery:

*Note, I use canned pumpkin, I have found it is the most consistent and produces a nicely flavored pie. Roasting a pumpkin is fine if you want to go to all the work… but in my opinion, leave that for the all the Pilgrims out there!

This recipe makes enough dough and filling for one single-crusted pie.

Bake Sale Bakery Pie Dough

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter cut into cubes
3 tablespoons cold Crisco cut into cubes
5-7 tablespoons cold water

*cut butter and shortening into small cubes and put in freezer.
1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Sprinkle butter and shortening over the dry ingredients and toss to coat.
Pulse until the dry mixture pea sized but not smaller.
3. Place the dry/fat mixture into a bowl and add water a few tablespoons at a time. Use a fork to toss the mixture and evenly distribute the liquid. Continue to add water until the dough, while still shaggy, holds together when pressed against the side of the bowl.
4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly, let disk cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours but no more than two days.
5. When ready, roll the dough out to fit the size of your pie tin making sure it is large enough to hang over the edge.
6. Crimp edges as you like and then line with foil. Fill the tin with dried beans or pie weights and blind bake at 375 until light golden brown. Remove the foil and weights and bake a few minutes longer to assure the bottom bakes.
The key to making flaky pie crust is to have all your ingredients very cold and work as quickly as you can so that the butter doesn’t start to melt until it hits the heat of the oven and puffs up from the steam.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 cups canned pumpkin
¾ cup cream
½ cup milk
2 whole large eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
½ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

1. Combine cream, vanilla, milk, eggs, yolks and sugars.
2. Add pumpkin and spices and mix well with whisk.
3. Pour into warm parbaked pie shell.
4. Bake at 325 degrees until just set (about 45 minutes).
5. Center will wiggle slightly, but top should not be wet.
6. Let cool at room temp, then refrigerate overnight.
7. Serve with fresh whipped cream spiced with grated nutmeg.

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