Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Streusel

Yes, it is impossible to hide: I have a strong and obvious obsession with pumpkin pie. Yes, this is my second pumpkin pie recipe I’ve written about in a month. My main excuse is that Thanksgiving is around the corner. Also, I think when you love something as much as I love this dessert, you should have a couple of versions on hand. This is an old favorite that I tend to come back to from time to time.

This pie tends to impress people thanks to a killer trio of layers: a decadent spiced bottom crust, a very creamy and soft center, and an overly generous streusel topping. It is especially appealing to anyone who is a fan of ginger. It’s what you make to rope in the pumpkin pie haters wandering your dinner crowd, the one that occasionally creates a convert.

I think the crust recipe is both amazing and frustrating at once. Amazing because the addition of fresh ginger and ground cloves are everything to this recipe; frustrating because the crust tends to quickly shrink and then burn by the end of the lengthy baking time. The flavor is there, but there’s something a little off with the overall ratio and baking times. I would try to cover the crust with foil during much of the baking time. Also, if you have your own favorite crust recipe I’d suggest using it here. Perhaps adding ginger and some cloves to a tried-and-true crust will be sufficient.

The interior custard is softer than other versions of squash pie, yet I tend to only let it cook the suggested 50 minutes before adding the streusel.  Any longer and the whole pie starts to overcook. The streusel topping is finished by 25 minutes at the most- I would check on it after 20 minutes to be sure. I think the overall spice of the pie is best after resting at least 12 hours, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to make this before serving.

The pie is very sweet- maybe overly so- and hardly needs any accompaniments. The end result is also messy, even bordering on ugly once you slice it up. Exactly why I went the dark-and-mysterious-photo-route instead of showing it off. Some things are better off being consumed than incessantly styled.

Thanksgiving
Sliced and over being photographed. Waiting for a fork.

Recipe Credit: Bon Appetit

Kitchen Mess: 2 out of 4. Not too bad, though watch out for streusel crumbs on your counter.

Recommended For: Ginger Fanatics, Thanksgiving, Pre-Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Nostalgia in January

Not Recommended For: Trying to Use Less Heavy Cream, The Only Dessert Amongst Friends Who Hate Ginger

 

 

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Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie

Lately there seems to be a sort of pumpkin backlash out there. I get it, the proliferation of “pumpkin spice everything” was pretty intense for a few years. But the hate is strong, too strong in my opinion. I don’t see why one should act like it’s fun to be OVER pumpkin. Pumpkin is basically essential to the season, right? No sense in beating a squash down because of a few cloyingly sweet latte versions.

Pumpkin pie is incredibly important to my overall baking repertoire. I tend to try about 2-3 new versions every November. I usually go back to an old beloved standby that involves a crumble topping. What can I say; I love butter crusts and crumble topping, and to have an orange-hued spiced squash custard sandwiched in-between these two details is pretty much the best.

It was that time of year when I end up having a pie pumpkin handed to me as part of my weekly CSA package. You’re either gearing up to make soup or pie with that sort of gift, and I usually go towards door #2. All I needed was a recipe. I decided to go with a version from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds cookbook, as I am a big fan of their bake shop. In fact I used to live dangerously close to the storefront for a couple of years. It is really, really difficult to not go in a top-notch pie store constantly when you’re right down the block.

This recipe is overall strong, but in the end it’s really not close enough to my favorite kind of pumpkin pie. It’s well-balanced, creamy, and flavorful, all positive remarks, but just not exactly my thing in the end. Maybe this sounds too harsh, but it shouldn’t- in fact, my personal pie preference shouldn’t deter anyone from trying this recipe out. The brown butter flavor adds a lovely full touch and their pie crust always makes an impressive base.

The oven temperatures listed worked perfectly for me, and I would likely use canned puree next time instead of roasting the pumpkin. My puree was slightly more watery than the canned stuff, which made it slightly softer than I would have liked. One more thing to mention: the word “butter” is definitely in the recipe name and don’t forget that detail. This is an full-fat pie. (Only a word of warning, as most pumpkin pies worth eating are going to be decadent no matter what.)

Always served with a little whipped cream.
Always served with a little whipped cream.

Recipe Credit: Emily Elsen and Melissa Elsen, Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Kitchen Mess: 2.5 out of 4. A typical pie-making mess.

Recommended For: Fall Weekend Desserts, Holiday Potlucks

Not Recommended For: Evil Pumpkin Pie Haters, People Who Like to Habitually Diet?

Blueberry Pecan Crunch Pie

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Success.

After being away for 3 weekends in a row, it was time to settle in at home and make something comforting. Pie is always at the top of the comfort list, but what kind? I tend to be indecisive about what flavor to make, especially since I try to limit pie baking to once every 6-8 weeks or so in an attempt to try and not eat a whole pie every week. (Tough and painful choices, I know.)  After much hand-wringing, blueberry ended up at the top of the list, mainly because I couldn’t remember the last time I had baked one.

Since it had been so long since I made a blueberry version, I ended up easily finding a recipe that I hadn’t used before: a pecan crunch pie from a 2001 Food and Wine compilation. The ingredients are straightforward and classic but with some embellishments like a nutty crumble topping (always yum) and toasted pound cake crumbs sprinkled on the par-baked crust.

This recipe is overall a strong one. The blueberry flavor is definitely enhanced with the addition of both lemon and ginger, but there’s nothing overpowering about either piece. The tartness of the blueberries was balanced with the sugar level. The pound cake crumb barrier kept the crust from getting soggy, which I call a huge success in the quality of the final product.

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Deep dark fruit drips.

What would I tweak? Two things. First of all, the pie crust recipe calls for a food processor, which in my opinion makes it easy to overmix the crust. I felt that it was competent but slightly tough. Next time I would stick to my own crust recipe without the machine.

The other piece I would tweak is the topping. The pecans are great, but perhaps it would be better to use brown sugar rather than granulated in this part of the recipe.

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Tomorrow, pie for breakfast.

Recipe Credit: Food and Wine

Kitchen Mess: 2 out of 4 stars. Depends on how messy you are with rolling out the dough.

Recommended for: A bumper crop of berries, potlucks and picnics, summer or when you’re missing summer

Not Recommended for: Hmm….I would say this could be universally adored unless you have a nut allergy.