A Pie to Try

Fall. The season between the one I love and the one I hate. Perfection. Beauty. Dull. Drab. All describe the three months of the year between late September and mid-December. When I think about the first crisp, cold snap, I smell cinnamon, spicy nutmeg, caramel apples, and the sweet richness of pumpkin blended with the buttery flakiness of a homemade pie crust. Comfort is a warm, freshly baked pie.

Whether you are a connoisseur of sweets or a lover of all things fall-related, every bite of this pie is for you. The slight sugary crunch of the sugared pecans blends so seamlessly with the soft pumpkin “fluff.” To me, it tastes like late fall.

— Eli Haddix of Evansville has worked in the restaurant business for 13 years.

Pumpkin Pie

• 1/2 cup water
• 1 cup shortening
• 2 cups all-purpose flour

As a general rule of thumb, as long as you are close to a 1-2-3 ratio — one part liquid (water in most cases), two parts fat, and three parts flour — your crust should be fine. I prefer pastry flour and lard or butter, but all-purpose flour and vegetable shortening works. The differences are subtle. Animal fats create a flakier, richer crust, while vegetable shortening like Crisco makes a crust easier to work with. First, mix the flour and fats (no need to melt the butter, just soften it.). When evenly blended, add two tablespoons of water at a time until fully incorporated. You now have dough. Roll it onto a 9-inch pie pan. (If you really want to get creative, use milk or cream for some richness, toss a bit of spice in with the flour, or use a blend of fats for optimal flakiness and flavor.)

Candied Pecans:
• 1 egg white 
• 1 tablespoon water 
• 1 pound pecan halves 
• 1 cup sugar in the raw 
• 1/2 tablespoon salt 
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small bowl, whisk the water and egg whites until a froth develops. Set aside. In another bowl, thoroughly mix the sugar, salt, and cinnamon. This spice mixture serves as the coating for the pecans. Toss the pecans in the egg white mixture, coating evenly. Add coated pecans to the sugar/spice blend, tossing to fully cover them. On a greased sheet, bake the coated pecans for 45 minutes at 250 degrees. These will be used as the pie’s topping.

Pumpkin Layer:
• 1 egg 
• 1/2 cup sugar 
• 1 cup pumpkin 
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
• 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Mix egg and sugar in one bowl and pumpkin and spices in another. Add the pumpkin mixture slowly to the egg, pouring into the pie crust when fully blended.

Pecan Layer:
• 2 eggs 
• 1/2 cup sugar in the raw 
• 2/3 cup corn syrup 
• 2 tablespoon butter, melted 
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
• 1 cup pecans, crushed

After beating eggs, add sugar and beat to combine. Mix in corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and pecans. Pour this mixture over the layer of pumpkin. Once the layers have been smoothed, place candied pecans on top, covering the entire pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. When finished, you should be able to insert a knife in the center, and pull it out clean.

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