As the holidays draw closer, and the pace of life become frantic, frenetic, and frenzied (not to mention fraught with frustration), I find myself withdrawing into my shell, much like a turtle does when he feels the enemy approaching. I'm looking for the sanctity of peace and space all alone, away from the dangers of crazy holiday stuff.
So imagine me as this turtle, hanging out in my shell, only to have my shell knocked on repeatedly, time after time, with request after request. Such is my life, where retreat is not only unlikely, but impossible. Therefore, I find myself having to poke my head out from the safety of my shell and do whatever is being asked of me.
Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays - but I like the part of the holidays that involves sitting by the fire, relaxing with family, and eating food prepared by my family, friends or me. I don't like fighting traffic, sitting and arguing over the "price match" of some insane toy, or jostling with people for parking spaces at the mall.
This pie tastes better with a pre-baked crust, which is a minor extra step.
Maple Pumpkin Pie
Makes 9 inch pie, serving 8 to 10 people
Pastry (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
Preheat oven to 375.
To make the dough in a stand mixer, fit the mixer with the flat beater, and stir together the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix on low speed just until the dough pulls together.
Transfer the dough to a work surface and flatten into a disk. (Although many dough recipes call for chilling the dough at this point, this dough should be rolled out immediately for the best results.) Take ball and lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Lay crust into 9 inch pie pan; trim overhang.
Place a piece of parchment or aluminium foil on top of the pie crust and fill with dried beans or weights. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, remove weights and parchment, and bake for an additional 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and set aside.
Maple Pumpkin Pie Filling and Construction
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
¾ heavy cream
1 partially baked 9 inch pie crust (recipe below if you want to make your own)
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix together syrup, ground cinnamon, ginger, salt, eggs, vanilla extract, pumpkin. Whisk in cream.
Pour into pre-baked pie shell.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until center of pie is still jiggly, but just set. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.