Texas State Fair Pecan Pie

Not cooking anything for Thanksgiving didn’t really leave me satisfied. Sure, it was much more restful than it has been in previous years, but I felt like something was missing after the weekend started to roll on and I still had not made anything. After I was invited to have dinner with a few friends, I volunteered to make a pie because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Although I looked through recent years’ Thanksgiving food magazines, I had been craving pecan pie ever since I didn’t see it on Blue Duck Tavern’s Thanksgiving dessert menu, so my mind was pretty much made up on what to bake. The only question, which version? I found this one in a November 2007 Food & Wine, along with the description that sold me on it: “This extraordinarily rich and sweet dessert was the winner at the 1996 State Fair of Texas State pie competition, which Dean Fearing helped judge. “‘Out of 140 pies, this one was it,’ he says. “Her name was Bobby Lee; she never told me her last name.”‘

The recipe requires a 10 inch pie dish, and I think mine must have been a little smaller, because the filling seemed to just about overflow over the edge of the dish. I cooked the pie for a full hour as opposed to the recommended 45 minutes, and it still didn’t really set in the center. I guess I could have cooked it longer, but I was worried about the edges burning.

This pie is riiiiich, sweet, and really, really filling. Think super dense, super gooey, super nap-inspiring. The crust is also fantastically light and flakey, a good balance against the decadent filling.

Texas State Fair Pecan Pie
(original recipe Food & Wine November 2007)

Ingredients
Pie Shell
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water

Filling
1 1/2 cups pecan halves (51/2 ounces)
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs

Directions
Make the pie shell: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add the ice water and pulse until the pastry is evenly moistened. Turn it out onto a work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Form the pastry into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry 1/8 inch thick; transfer into a deep 10-inch glass pie plate and trim the overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold the edge of the pastry under and crimp the edges. Prick the bottom with a fork in a few places. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edge. Remove the paper and weights and bake the shell for 15 minutes longer, or until it is lightly golden. Leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, make the filling: In a pie plate, toast the pecans for 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup, milk, flour, vanilla seeds and salt. Cook over moderate heat just until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

In a heatproof bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Gradually whisk in the hot sugar mixture until thoroughly blended. Spread the toasted pecans in the bottom of the pie shell and pour the filling on top. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center is just barely set and the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool completely. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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