This past weekend blew my mind.  I am involved in a three-year study group that explores a multitude of issues relevant to religion and this weekend was our session on science and religion.  It is so humbling to take time to remember how insignificant we are in this huge universe, yet how significant it is that we exist all at the same time.  It is a mind blowing topic and here is my “artistic” (hmmmm?) interpretation of our universe/creation/evolution.

You know what else is mind blowing?  Pie.

Blueberry pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, perfectly buttery and flakey crust are mind blowingly good.  Making pie crust, rolling out pie crust (I am physically incapable of rolling dough into a circle), and accurately cutting butter into flour can be mind blowingly frustrating.  Good thing I finally stumbled upon a wonderful pie crust recipe a few years ago!

While this recipe does not necessarily improve my dough rolling handicap it does improve my stress level by being generally easy to work with and results in a very flakey crust.

Two things set this recipe apart.  1. No food processor, no knives, no pastry cutter for incorporating the butter; this dough is made with a stand mixer.  This really speeds up the process (at least for me) and ensures the butter stays nice and cold, which is the key to a flakey crust. 2. Apple cider vinegar tenderizes the dough making stay together better and roll easier.

Of course you must fill your crust with something fabulous!  I love pumpkin pie and I love cream cheese, but I had never thought about combining the two.  At Central Market we sell a pumpkin pie with a swirl of cream cheese.  I was skeptical at first, but once I tried it, I haven’t looked back.  This is my version of this pie.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of my version.  I didn’t add anything to the cream cheese and the flavor just kinda fell flat.  Thinking about it now, I bet my work uses the cheesecake batter in the pie (I guess I should have investigated this…oh well).

The pumpkin filling is yummy though, so I will go ahead and share that with you considering Thanksgiving is next week and you should be thinking about what is for dessert!

Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson

Makes 1 9-inch Pie

1 9-inch pie crust, partially baked (see below for recipe)

2 cups pumpkin puree

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon black pepper (not a typo)

1 teaspoon salt

Set oven to 325°F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, whole eggs, egg yolk, cream, and vanilla and whisk to mix well.  In a second bowl, combine the sugar with all the spices and stir to mix.  Whisk the sugar mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

Pour the filling into the hot pie shell and smooth top as needed.  Bake the pie until just set but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 1 hour.  The filling will continue to set as it cools.  Let the pie cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Flakey Pie Crust

From BakeWise by Shirley O. Corriher

Makes 2 9-inch Crusts

Note:  Sprinkling a little cornmeal or fine bread crumbs makes it much easier to remove pie from pan.

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup cold water

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-in cubes

2 1/1 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornmeal

In a small bowl, stir together the salt, vinegar, and water.  Place the butter and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Refrigerate both the water mixture and the flour and butter for at least 30 minutes.

Place the flour and butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment, and cut the butter into the flour using the lowest speed, mixing until the butter resembles flakes of oatmeal, about 2 minutes.  With the mixer running, pour in the cold salted water and mix until the dough forms a ball, about 30 seconds.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, shaping each into a 6-inch disc.  Wrap each disc separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight (freeze one disc if you only plan to make 1 pie).

Once ready to use the dough, preheat oven for to 450°F.  Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle cornmeal over bottom of the pan.  Roll out dough into a 12-inch circle.  To get the dough centered in the pan, fold the dough in quarters.  Place the point of the folded section in the center of the pan, and then unfold the dough circle.  With your fingertips, press the whole bottom well, starting at the center and pressing outward to press into the crumbs and to squeeze out any air between the crust and pan.  Press the edges well all the way around.  Lift the top edges, fold under slightly and press down so that edges are slightly thicker.  Freeze the crust in the pan for at least 45 minutes.

Remove pan from freezer.  Cover dough with a large piece of foil and fill with pie weights (or dried beans).  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and use as needed in pie recipe.