One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie. Moving to Germany and having to make the puree ourselves (really, it’s not that hard) has raised my appreciation for that pie. It’s strongly connected with the season…but wouldn’t it be nice to have a slice in July? Continue reading Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Pecans are not the easiest thing to find here. Most of the ones you find are smoked or salted or candied or something and not suitable for pie-making. Sarah did find them once at Aldi, but we’ve been prepared this time, somewhat, by importing a few pounds thanks to our Costco-membership-having friends and family on our last U.S. visit.
So, armed with those, we tried out a pecan pie. We took this recipe from epicurious.com used it mostly as-is, with the exception of the orange peel. It seemed dumb to me to only use one half-teaspoon of zest, so we put in the zest of a whole orange. That tasted great. Also, we backed off on the corn syrup somewhat (versus the original recipe), and I think we could have backed off even more.
Here’s what you need:
3/4 stick (75g) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (262g) packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (150ml) light corn syrup
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest from one orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound or 227g)
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C) with a baking sheet on middle rack.
Get yer pie crust into a 10-inch pie plate. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes). Our all-natural walk-in fridge (the little room between the hallway and our apartment) is ideal for this, but only some months of the year.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt. Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk the corn syrup mixture into that.
Dump the pecans into the pie shell and pour the corn syrup mixture evenly over them. Our pie plate was pretty deep, so we didn’t need to worry about syrupy eggy spill-over, but the original suggests baking on a hot baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely (go with the walk-in fridge again) — overnight is probably best.
Sarah and Tammy took the German pumpkin situation into their own hands — literally — last week when tackling the time-honored American Thanksgiving dessert option. Canned pumpkin puree is hard to come by around here. You’ve got to have a military post hook-up or have flown it in with someone who otherwise travels light. Note to those reading and thinking about moving to Germany: fill up extra space in your shipping container with hard-to-find canned goods. Even if you don’t like them yourself, they are worth their weight in trade.
So here’s the weird part: the cute little good-for-cooking pumpkin varieties are pretty easily available in Germany. Most supermarkets and organic markets seem to carry them. But does that mean that everyone is cooking with pumpkin from scratch? I don’t think so. You see the occasional pumpkin soup or pumpkin-infused pasta sauce around here in restaurants, but I don’t get the impression that pumpkin is a part of standard Bavarian cuisine. So what are they doing with them? Not making pie, as far as we can tell.
I found this recipe online for pumpkin pie from real pumpkins and they set to work. This recipe is very generous with metric conversions and dietary and preparation alternatives (nice!) and Comic Sans (less nice). But oh well. The content is solid, with lots of ideas for extra pumpkinny usage.
Sarah and Tammy opted to roast the cleaned-out pumpkin chunks in the oven to soften up the flesh as described in her recipe for pumpkin purée. The upshot here was avoiding too much moisture in the puree.
This is the part where I got involved. I whipped up a pie crust from our standard recipe. We were worried that the crust might have been a little too thin (you can see the pie pan pattern through it!), but it came out just fine — probably owing to the reduced moisture from the roasting method of puree collection as well. I even had enough dough left over to make a midget pie, too. Sarah does the fluting (looks nice, right?) and you can see that I was in charge of the midget pie and went for the more rustic (read: lazy) look. Here are the pie filling ingredients we used — see the original recipe for alternatives:
1 cup (210 g) sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I ground fresh nutmeg shavings and cloves together in our spice grinder to make ours a few months ago; individual proportions are available in the original recipe)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3 cups pumpkin puree
18oz (530ml) evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Note: don’t get confused by the milk nomenclature here in Germany. Evaporated milk is known in Germany as “Kondensmilch” and Sweetened Condensed Milk is called “Kondensmilch, gezuckert” — at least in our supermarkets. You’ve got to look pretty carefully at the labels. You’ll probably find them in the same section as the canned coffee creamers.
Mix all that stuff up together, in no particular order, though I submit that if you add the spice ingredients last, you’ll have less chance of your spices collecting on the bottom of your mixer bowl. That happened to us, and you can see spicy plumes in our midget pie and crustless pies. All three still tasted great, but the spice distribution was uneven and obviously more concentrated in the midget and crustless pie.
Then fill your pie shells right up to the top. With our 9″ pie shell, we still had enough for the midget pie, and still some left over, which we baked as a crustless pie in a non-stick loaf pan. Bake the pie at 425°F (210°C) for the first 15 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 350°F (175°C) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean. You can see what happens if you forget to reduce the heat after the first 15 minutes on our crustless pie. Still totally edible but with more of a skin developed on the top layer.
This is a fluffier-than-I’m-used-to variety. I normally think of pumpkin pie as a dense and heavy custard, and I enjoy that, but this lighter variation was really good.
Here are some various things that are going on with us at the moment.
Edeka’s got nice white-fleshed nectarines from France in stock. I bought five of them, feeling nostalgic for France last month. Guess what? They were every bit as good. So I stopped eating them and the rest are going into some personal-sized pie pans I bought at cookmal! at the DEZ. What a neat store! I am sure that is going to be a dangerous place for me/us (like Pryde’s in Kansas City). Plus, they sell KitchenAid standmixers…now, if only our Siemens-branded Küchenmaschine would sputter and die…
In other longing-for-France news, we finally hung some stuff on our walls. We’d been planning this since having bought a painting and a cute clock at the Sunday market in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue back at the beginning of our France trip. Odd thing though: we couldn’t, for the life of us, find our hammer (necessary for wall-mounting light stuff not requiring drill-in wall anchors). Fortunately the Real store is only about 7 minutes away by bike and they’re open until 20:00 on Saturdays. Else we’d have to wait until Monday when the stores are open to get our wall decorations up.
And these photos were brought to you by some new gadgetry: Sarah’s new point-n-shoot camera and my new flash for the DSLR. I love my DSLR and trying new stuff out with it, but I don’t always love lugging it around with me. This little number should be ideal for the sneaky snaps at the grocery store or capturing German Man Short-Shorts while out and about.
One last thing: give us your Southern-Spain travel stories. AirBerlin has published their fare specials for Spain up to and including summer 2010, and we’re thinking about a four of five day trip, with a flight into and out of Sevilla, sometime in the Spring – like March or April, but preferably not in the week leading up to Easter.
Fruit pie success! We’ve had a spate of sloppy, overly juicy fruit pies in the past few weeks. Two factors contribute to this: 1) Summer fruit is looking and smelling so gorgeous of late and 2) Cliff is a pie-crust rolling fool. I’ve never been a huge pie nut or fruit fan, so I’m less than driven to perfect the process. However, we will be making this again because it was so lovely. And easy. I found it here and made a couple of small adjustments, plus we used our own pie crust recipe.
1/4 c confectioners’ sugar
1/4 t baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 to 6 T flour
1/4 c cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 lbs (4 to 5 medium) yellow peaches, ripe, pitted and sliced
4 T granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 T crème fraîche
First, put your sliced peaches, sugar and salt in a large bowl and stir to coat. Set aside to sit for about 10 minutes.
Next, make the streusel: combine all ingredients in a deep bowl and cut together with a pastry cutter or two knives. The mixture should be crumbly and coarse – if it isn’t crumbly enough, add more flour one tablespoon at a time. Once you get the right texture, set the streusel aside.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Roll out your pie crust and place in a 9-inch pie dish (don’t use a deep dish!). Crimp the crust edges as you like and poke the bottom with a fork. At this point in the original recipe, you’re supposed to parbake the crust, but I skipped that step and don’t think it’s necessary. If you prefer to parbake, go look at the original recipe linked above for the instructions.
Take 2 tablespoons of your crème fraîche and spread it on the bottom of the pie crust, then sprinkle about 1/3 of your streusel on the crème fraîche. Arrange the peaches in the pie crust – don’t worry if it looks like there is too little, they will release some juice and fill it out. Now dot the peaches with the remainder of the crème fraîche and top with the rest of the streusel. Bake for about 50 minutes, remove from oven, allow to cool completely to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Sarah found this recipe online and we’ve lifted it directly from there with no modifications at all. It is wonderful: easy and tasty for both dessert pies and savory quiches, and we’ve verified that now with a couple of fruit pies and a quiche experiment of our own. Best part: the recipe makes enough for two pie crusts, which means you can freeze one lump of dough for later use, or make a double-crust pie, or do some pretty lattice work.
- 250 grams of flour (1 and 3/4 cups or a little over 1/2 pound, unbleached, all-purpose)
- 125 grams of unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 egg
- 1 tea spoon of crème fraîche (or sour cream if you can’t find it)
- 1/2 tea spoon of salt
The base ingredients are the flour, salt and butter. The egg and crème fraîche are here to help them stick together (plus the egg will give the crust a nice golden color).
First sift the flour over a large bowl and add the salt.
Cut the butter in tiny cubes. Incorporate the butter to the flour with your fingertips (you can’t really use a spoon here… You could use a pastry blender but you’d lose all the fun of making your own ‘pâte brisée’). The dough will feel like coarse sand grains between your fingers.
Push the flour and butter mix on the sides of the bowl, digging a hole in the center. Break the egg and pour it in the hole in middle of the bowl. Beat it a little with a fork then use a wooden spoon to incorporate the flour little by little.
Add the crème fraîche or sour cream and mix again until the dough is homogeneous. Use your hands to knead the dough and form two balls of the same weight.
Place the balls of dough in plastic wraps and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using or freezing. Let the dough warm up a little before rolling it out.