Hello, again. It’s been another hot minute. And considering every minute of this year is an hour, and every week is 1 year, it’s like I haven’t posted in DECADES.
As we’ve established this year is terrible, and you know what Thanksgiving is pretty terrible too. If at this point you can’t even acknowledge the racist propaganda machine behind Turkey Day then I don’t know. Grow up. I think there’s been some move to try and separate the holiday from its past (good luck), and some of us celebrate out of obligation to family, or because we still want a holiday to express gratitude. Personally, I categorize Thanksgiving as a “This is just an Excuse for Me to Bake” holiday. These holidays (I’m lookin at you 4th of July) are opportunities for me to lavish baked goods on my loved ones, and Thanksgiving is literally THE pie holiday, and that’s what I’m SUPPOSED to be “known” for, so here we are. Pies.
Since we’re not selfish assholes, we’re not getting together with family like we usually do this year, but I wasn’t going to let my aunt and grandparents escape without a homemade pie. (My aunt was planning on buying a pie from the store. Can you imagine??? With me in the family??? Offended.)
Here’s the thing, I enjoy pumpkin pie, but if we’re being totally honest it’s not my absolute fave. I’ve also made pumpkin pies before, and I’m always looking for opportunities to try something new. Enter pecan pie. I love pecan pie, but I’ve avoided making and eating it often up until now, mostly because of reading too many stupid diet-culture blogs that proclaimed it as “the unhealthiest kind of pie”. Guys, pie isn’t supposed to be healthy. You eat it to feel alive inside. You eat it to break up the sad monotony of existence. Yeah maybe pumpkin is a vegetable, but if you think pumpkin pie is significantly “healthier” then I’m sorry but you’re deluding yourself. But that’s fine!! It’s all fine, eat whatever you want!!
After conferring with my family the pie plan fell into place: one pecan pie for my household, one pumpkin pie for my grandparents, and one pumpkin pie for my aunt. My challenges for this baking endeavor were the following:
- Make three pies in one day
- ACTUALLY SUCCEED in blind baking crusts, something I have absolutely failed at thus far.
- Make successful crust decorations
For my pumpkin pies I doubled this recipe from Budget Bytes, which I’ve made before with success.
For my pecan pies I used a mix between this recipe from SmittenKitchen
And Kate McDermott’s recipe from her book Art of the Pie
I basically used all the ingredients from the Kate McDermott recipe, but I substituted the corn syrup for the golden syrup from the SmittenKitchen recipe. I also used SmitKitch’s method of melting the sugar, butter, and syrup together, since this apparently results in a more homogenous pie filling.
Just as an aside, this is the first time I’ve used Golden Syrup, and I’m impressed. It’s one of those British things that I had to go to Cost Plus to get, and apparently it just gives better flavor than corn syrup does since it’s toasted and has a little salt. The little bottle was like $5 though so maybe just use maple syrup (or corn syrup) if you don’t want to make a special trip to Cost Plus.
There were SO MANY things that could have gone wrong y’all. I was most nervous about blind-baking the crusts. Every time I’ve tried to blind-bake it’s resulted in a melty, saggy, greasy mess, and usually ends up with me crying on the floor. But NOT THIS TIME. This time I had ACTUAL pie weights, and armed with these tiny ceramic balls (and some extra uncooked rice for good measure) I ACTUALLY DID IT!! I blind baked not one, not two, but THREE CRUSTS. Incredible.
I’d attempted crust decoration before, with mixed results. The last time I tried to do leaf decor on the edge of a pie it basically melted into the crust and filling. This time around I decided that for the pumpkin pies, it was better to bake the mini leaves and pumpkins separately and place them on top of the filling at the end. For the pecan pie, I went all out. Leaves, braids on the edge. I stuck them to the crust with a little water, made sure it was absolutely frozen before I blind-baked, and prayed. There was a bit of sagging with the pecan pie crust, but as you can see it all turned out pretty good! I also actually remembered to do the egg wash, something I never remember to do. So my crusts are CRISP. They are FLAKY. They are GOLDEN BROWN.
Making both fillings went off without a hitch. I let the pumpkin pies cool in our top oven while the pecan pie baked to prevent cracking (they didn’t crack, because I know what I’m about, son.)
I’m incredibly surprised that I got through three pies without any major mistakes. Like, everything did what it was supposed to. Maybe they’re not the most gorgeous, professionally perfect pies. But they’re mine and I love them. I did start at 12:30 in the afternoon and wasn’t finished until 6, so if you value your free time maybe don’t make three pies in one day. But I’m very proud of myself and I’m so happy that I can give some beautiful pies to my family. This year has been a lot, for everyone. I’m not going to pretend like next year is going to be magically better, but I’m starting to dip my toes into cautious optimism again.
Regardless if you celebrate the holiday or not, I hope everyone stays safe and healthy. We’re all doing the best we can, and that’s enough. Eat some pie.