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flipping-dough.jpgKirsten writes, “Just wanted you to know that I’m in preparation of the perfect pie crust. This morning, I pulled out a bowl, pastry cutter, measuring devices, gravy separator, spatula, and ingredients. With the voice of a great mentor chanting in my mind (“cold dough, hot oven!”), I’m excited about creating a traditional Thanksgiving feast for our Polish friends, who have never experienced this beloved American holiday. The dough is chilling in the fridge, waiting to be gingerly formed in the pie dish for a yummy pumpkin pie. One more time… “cold dough, hot oven!” This is going to be one delicious pie!”

Baking a pie for Thanksgiving seems to make even good cooks nervous. Here are a few hints.

For the dough, use half butter (for the taste) and half shortening (for the texture). Cut the fat into the flour with a pastry blender, not a machine (which overmixes and overheats). Bigger chunks of fat are better than smaller pieces; the fat should be dime-sized. Use a gravy separator (which pours from the bottom of the cup) to add the ice-cold water. Don’t handle the dough too much; the dough should be rough, not a smooth disk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling out.

To roll out the dough, use a silicone pastry mat, which is nonstick and flexible. If the dough sticks, sprinkle with plenty of flour (I love the flour duster). Only roll the dough to the size of the pie plate (about 12 inches for the bottom crust and 9 inches for the top crust). If the dough cracks, patching is fine, but do NOT squish the dough back together and re-roll (the crust will taste terrible because too much flour has been added). Use a bench knife to move the dough and make sure that the bottom is floured. Use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour before putting the dough in the pie plate.

As Kirsten says, make sure that your dough is cold and your hot is hot. Cold dough is easier to roll out and cold dough will bake into flaky pastry. If necessary, refrigerate the dough in the pie plate before filling and baking. Cold dough also keeps the filling from making the pastry soggy.

For the filling, since there is a shortage of canned pumpkin, make a better pie by using fresh butternut squash! Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast at 350 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes. (Alternatively, peel and cube the squash and steam until tender, about 15 minutes.) Press through a potato ricer. Don’t tell your guests that the pie is really squash, but accept the compliments as they tell you it is the best pumpkin pie that they have ever eaten!

2 Comments for “Thanksgiving Timetable: Pie”  

  1. deercreek36

    Make a pie with FRESH pumpkin. After a blind taste test you will find:

  2. Marcia

    Absolutely! I can really taste the difference, and the texture is better, too.