Baking is a fundamental part of the holiday season … just like wild shopping sprees, and singing along those Christmas songs on the radio. You just cannot do without it!
There are so many options when it comes to baking, that it can be a challenge to decide which recipe to approach. So here are a few of my favorite sweet recipes. Elegant, fun and delicious. Hopefully one of these will inspire your holiday baking.
|Homemade rustic crostata with sweet and juicy apples, a dash of cinnamon, over a buttery and flaky crust.|
And there is more! Today, I present you with a traditional, made-from-scratch pecan pie that cannot possibly miss from your Thanksgiving table.
Did I mention this is by far my favorite Thanksgiving dessert?!? And there is a good reason for it. This is not just any pie. But a deliciously sinful pecan pie. Classic and simple. Rich and nutty. Made with NO corn syrup. Yes, you heard me!! You can do a pecan pie without the guilt of using high-fructose (maybe not-so-good for your health) sweetener. And still get the same super sweet, moist and chewy filling. Flavored with a touch of orange zest, and a dash of cinnamon which will make your kitchen smell like the holidays. And that’s not all. This pie is topped with more golden, toasty and slightly crunchy pecans. All sitting over a flaky, crumbly and buttery crust.
Oh my… I just made myself hungry for more pecan pie!
I made the crust using my food processor. Very easy and super quick. You can also make it by hand, just like I did in my apple crostata recipe the other day. Similar idea, but a little more labor intensive. The recipe for the crust is your basic flour/salt/tiny-bit-of-sugar/cold butter and chilled water. Mixed together quickly until just combined. And stored in the refrigerator before rolling and placing in the pan. I decorated the edges with a pretty fluted pattern. You don’t really have to, but when you see how easy it actually is, I’m sure you will try!
I used a plain, 9 inch pyrex glass pan. I love this pan, and especially foolproof baking. You can check the bottom of the pie through the glass at any time. So there is no room for error and no guessing for readiness. I started with the pan in the middle of the oven and set my timer to 40 minutes. I moved the pie to the bottom of the oven for the last 15 minutes of baking to avoid over-cooking the upper edges. You can also cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil if the top crust starts to color too soon.
Ingredients: to make a 9 inch (23 cm) pie
For the crust:
- 1.5 cups (225 gr) of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons (30 gr) of sugar
- 4 oz (115 gr) of unsalted butter, cold
- about 6 tablespoons (85 ml) of chilled water
For the filling:
- 2 oz (55 gr) of unsalted butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup (100 gr) of brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 cup (150 gr) of granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- a pinch of salt
- 1 orange, zest
- 2 cups (200 gr) of chopped pecans
- plus around 1.5 cups (150 gr) of pecan halves for decorating (optional)
Preparation time: 30 minutes to prepare, plus two hours inactive
1. In your food processor, add the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse a couple of times so that the dry ingredients are mixed together. If not using a food processor, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Add the cubed butter and pulse a few times until incorporated. You need the butter in little pea-size small clumps. If not using a food processor, cut the butter in small pieces with the tip of a knife, mixing with the flour, until you get a coarse mixture.
3. Add about 4 tablespoons of chilled water. I placed half glass of water in the freezer before starting with the recipe. Pulse only a few times, (or mix with a spoon if not using a food processor) and check the dough. You need to stop as soon as the dough comes together in a ball. Do not over-mix. Add a little more water if necessary. I added two more tablespoons of water (total of 6).
4. Pack the dough into a disc using your hand and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour or longer. You can prepare the dough the day before too, and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
5. Roll the dough on a clean surface sprinkled with flour, into a circle of about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. Make sure the dough doesn’t stick to the counter when you roll it, so flip it and move it around.
6. Transfer the dough to a 9 inches pie pan, helping yourself with the rolling pin. Cover the pan with the dough pushing gently the dough down to the bottom, without stretching it. Trim off the excess pastry around the edges, leaving about one inch all around.
7. Fold back the edge, toward the outside of the pan, And if you like, make a fluted edge. Using your finger index on one hand, push the dough through the index and middle fingers of your other hand, as shown in my picture.
8. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, and place the crust back in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
9. Preheat the oven to 350º F (175º C). Melt 2 oz of unsalted butter in the microwave (about 30 seconds) or in double boiler. Let the butter cool.
10. In a large bowl mix the brown and white sugar with the eggs until creamy.
11. Add the melted butter, the salt, the orange zest, the vanilla extract and the cinnamon. Mix again.
12. Fold in the chopped pecans, and pour the mixture onto the crust. If you’d like decorate with the pecan halves, making circles starting from the edge, moving in.
13. Bake at 350º F (175º C) for 55-60 minutes in the middle of the oven, until the crust is slightly brown, and the filling is mostly set. I placed the pie in the middle of the oven for the first 40 minutes, and moved it to a lower rack after that. Make sure to check the pie. If the edges start to brown you can also wrap the pie with aluminum foil, after the first 30-40 minutes.
I know it will be hard, but wait for the pie to cool down and set a bit before cutting yourself a big slice.