Thursday, 28 January 2016

classic pecan pie - great any time of day, any time of year!

Pecan pie is one of my favourite pies in the whole world. I love anything nutty and caramely and pecan pie creates magic with these two words. After almonds, pecans  have to be my favourite nuts as they have a very distinct flavour and once toasted smell even better. This pie is made with flaky and buttery pastry and filled with the most amazing combination of ingredients. Butter, brown sugar, toasted pecans, vanilla and that inimitable flavour of golden syrup. If you live outside of the UK you can use a mixture of light and dark corn syrup (which I haven't used in baking but it will do the job) A touch of salt just balances out the sweetness. 

I will stress the importance of toasting your nuts! Don't skip this step as the flavour is amazing. So, toast your nuts! I made this for our Christmas lunch and it went down a treat with a scoop of Madagascan vanilla ice cream. Or even as is with a cup of tea is great. Try it. You won’t be disappointed. Don't be put off by the lengthy instructions. I've written everything down as accurately as possible without turning into a bore and I promise you it's worth going to the effort of making your own home-made pecan pie

Ingredients (serves 8)
For the pie crust
200g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
¼ tsp of salt
6-7 tbs chilled water

For the Filling
80g butter
250g whole pecans
150g golden syrup
200g brown sugar
3 medium free range eggs
1.5 Tsp vanilla 
1/3 tsp salt 

Prepare the pastry by mixing chilled butter and flour with your fingertips to form coarse breadcrumb-like crumbs. Add the chilled water a couple of tbs at a time and bring together with a knife. Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gently form into a slightly flattened disc. Cover with cling-film and refrigerate for 30 mins.

Meanwhile, make the filling by bringing the butter, sugar, golden syrup and salt to a boil on medium-high heat and stir until the mixture looks smooth. This should take 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the vanilla extract and let the mixture cool for about 15-20 minutes, until lukewarm.

Whisk eggs in a separate bowl and gradually add to the sugar and butter mixture whilst constantly whisking the sugar and butter mixture to avoid curdling.

Roll out chilled dough on a floured surface so that it's a few inches bigger in diameter from pie dish. Using your rolling pin, lift the pastry and cover the dish so that it falls naturally. Gently push the pastry in around the inside edges. Either pinch the edges to create a triangular pattern or using a sharp knife cut off excess pastry from the top and chill for a further 20 mins.

Preheat oven to 200c or 180c fan/gas mark 6 and remove the pastry case from the refrigerator and using a fork prick the surface of the pastry to prevent puffing up whilst baking. I didn’t blind bake – but you can if you want by placing some dried beans on the pastry. Bake for 10 mins. At the same time place your nuts on a baking tray and toast for 10 minutes

After 10 mins remove the pastry case and the toasted nuts from the oven. Let the pastry case cool about 10 minutes and line with the toasted pecans. Leave the oven on while you assemble your pecan pie.

Give your filling mixture a quick stir and carefully fill the pastry case and bake 40 minutes at 200c or 180c fan/gas mark 6 then reduce to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the pie is golden and set. Don’t worry if there is a slight jiggle in the centre as this will firm up once cool.

Cool completely before serving with vanilla ice cream or cream!

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