21 Nov Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie
Me + Pie. You might call us frenemies. I’ve always considered myself more of a cake girl. Until recently, I would eat pie once a year on Thanksgiving, and even then it was more an obligatory celebration of tradition (it’s un-American not to eat pie on Thanksgiving!) than the satisfying of a yearlong craving. (True confessions: I spend most of the holidays working through several gallons of my favorite seasonal peppermint ice cream instead.) Against the spectrum of cakes, cookies, candies and of course, ice creams, I always found pie to be well, underwhelming. And since I wasn’t eating pie but once yearly, I sure as hell wasn’t baking pie.
But hey, let’s be honest about the real deterrent here, which is that pies are work. They’re time consuming, and challenging to perfect. You see, part of my pride as a baker relies on being able to not only produce tasty results, but also pretty ones. I assume if you’re reading this that you’ve most likely tried to bake a pie or two at some point, and therefore you’re likely also a member of the It’s-Really-Easy-To-Make-a-Fugly-Pie Club. You know what I’m talking about – oven shrinkage, lumpy, unappetizing crust, uneven browning, maybe even an undercooked, mushy custard filling with a lifeless, soggy bottom. And it’s not like a cake where you can just cover the uglies with a layer of buttercream and sprinkles. If pie comes out of the oven ugly, you’re stuck with ugly. (Not, completely true. See notes.) The struggle is real and it was mine for quite some time.
So let’s recap. I spent far too many years avoiding pie because a) I have an ice cream problem. b) Pie is scary. c) Pie-taste underwhelms.
But as I’ve developed my skills as a baker, I have come to realize the importance of having a solid pie in one’s repertoire. The ability to produce a tender, flaky piecrust from scratch is a baker’s badge of honor. A right of passage, if you will. If you don’t have one, you don’t have it.
So, like the good little obsessive baker that I am, some twenty-something moons ago I set out to master the pie. It hasn’t been easy and I am still far from perfection, but I’m proud to say that I can finally produce a crust golden and flakey enough to hold it’s own against the discerning judgment of crust-slinging grandmas and pie snobs everywhere. As you can see, I’ve even delved into the world of decorative crusts, which may not seem like a big deal to you, but the me of years passed is impressed. Like, whoa.
And as it turns out, I was mostly wrong about pie. I say mostly because I’m no liar. I’m not going to sit here and tell you homemade crust is easy and that it will turn out beautifully every time. BUT after the first few times you make it, it definitely gets a helluva lot easier. Practice, practice, practice. You’ve got this!
Not only do I find it incredibly satisfying (perhaps a little too much so) to pull a perfectly golden, insanely buttery and delicious pie from the oven, but you know, I think all that effort makes pie taste freaking amazing, too. Maybe by younger self didn’t know what’s up, maybe I needed to be slapped around by a few bad pies before I finally got it, but y’all pie is good. I mean, lesbihonest ice cream will always reign king, but pie has managed to work its way into my once pie-indifferent heart. It’s a labor of love, and love I will do. Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, blueberry pie, coconut cream pie…I want to make all the pie.
This recipe is the pie-child of the baking goddess herself, Dorie Greenspan. I purchased Baking: From My Home to Yours a little over a year ago and have barely broken the surface of what this book has to offer — perhaps I’ll make it a New Years resolution to try one recipe a month because it’s is chock full of beautiful written, perfectly executed recipes. In other words, Dorie’s got the goodies.
This Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie isn’t your typical pumpkin + spice mix + evaporated milk Thanksgiving pie. After all, why use milk from a can when you can use heavy and sour creams? (I know what you’re thinking but hey, it’s Thanksgiving, no calorie counting allowed.) The heavy cream does its job well, creating an intensely creamy custard filling that is enhanced by a subtle tang from the sour cream. The pie crust is also Dorie’s Good for Almost Anything Pie Crust, which is uses a combination butter and shortening for the fat and is slightly sweetened by the addition of a little sugar – an ingredient typically seen more in tart doughs than pies. Not only does the sugar add a hint of sweetness, but I also believe that as it bakes and caramelizes, it works to produce a slightly crispier flake — a pleasant contrast to the intensely creamy filling.
Oh, and there’s bourbon!
Looking for tips on making the perfect pie crust? Here are some great resources:
Not what your looking for? A little Googling goes a long way — there are hours and hours of pie research to be had.
I hope this post isn’t too late to work itself into your Thanksgiving table! It’s a truly delicious pumpkin pie and it 100% the extra effort!
A Few Notes About This Recipe
As you can see from the cracks on the top, I slightly over baked my pie — if you see your pie start to puff up, it’s done, take it out of the oven! If this happens to you, fear not! It will still taste wonderful, and if you’re worried about appearance whipped cream works wonders on cracked pie. Pipe it around the edges like I did to distract from the cracks.
Depending on the size and depth of your pie dish, you may have some left over filling. You can use this to make mini-pies in a mini-muffin tin or even in Thanksgiving morning pancakes. For mini-pies, line each mini muffin cup with a 2.5 inch round of pie dough and fill to the top with the leftover filling. Bake for 10 minutes at 450F an reduce to 350F for another 10-15 minutes, watching careful for doneness.
If you decide to make a leaf crust, bake any remaining leaves for about 15 minutes at 350F and use for garnish. They also make great snacks when brushed with egg was and sprinkles with cinnamon sugar.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons butter (1 1/4 sticks), cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
- 2 1/2 tablespoons shortening, VERY COLD, preferably frozen, cut into 2 pieces
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) ice water
- 2 cups pumpkin puree (plain, not pumpkin pie filling)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- pinch of ground cloves
- pinch of grated nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons dark rum or bourbon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- whipped cream, for serving
- Combine flour, sugar & salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until well combined.
- Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse 5-8 times, just until the fats are cut into the flour. You're aiming for pieces the size of fat green peas, with some smaller pieces throughout.
- Add 3 tablespoons of ice water pulsing quickly in-between each addition. The dough should start to come together forming soft curds. If necessary, add the last tablespoon and finish with a long pulse to bring the dough together. (I almost always use all 4 tablespoons unless it is a very humid day.) The dough should stick together when pinched and there should still be some larger chunks of butter throughout -- this means you haven't over mixed. You should not pulse until it comes together completely in the processor. You should need to use your hands to press the dough together in the next step.
- Pour dough out onto a work surface or a piece of parchment paper. It may be slightly crumbly. Gather the dough into a cohesive ball and shape into a disk, being careful not to overwork it. Wrap the disc and refrigerate for at least an hour (overnight is better) before rolling.
- To roll out the dough, liberally flour your work surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough in a circular shape, until is it about 1/8 of an inch thick.
- If you’ve got time, slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 mins to rest and firm up.
- Fit the dough into a buttered 9-inch pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. At this point, you could use the scraps to cut out leaf shapes and line the border of the pie, using this tutorial. If you choose to go the leaf route, you can also use a mini leaf-shaped cookie cutter to make things easier. Place crust into the freezer for 30 minutes before partially baking baking.
- To partially preheat oven to 400F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, and fit the foil buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Put the pie pon a baking sheet and bake for 25 mins. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Return the pie crust to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling. While your pie crust is cooling prepare your pumpkin pie filling.
- Center a rack in the oven a heat to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine all of the filling ingredients into a food processor and process for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once.
- Pour the filling into your cooled crust. If you're using a decorative leaf crust, make a foil wreath and cover the edges for the majority of baking to prevent the leaves from burning, removing for the last 10-15 minutes of baking. You can also brush with egg wash at this point, if desired for a deeper golden, glossy finish. Bake the pie for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 300F and continue to back for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. One nice thing about using the dough scraps to cut out leaves, is that you can bake any extra leaves and use them to decorate and cover any holes you make while testing doneness. If you don't want to make any holes in your pie, tap the pan -- if the custard jiggles only slightly in the middle, your pie is done. If it starts to puff up in the center and crack, it's been in the oven too long.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. At this point, you can place in the refrigerator and serve chilled, or leave at room temperature until serving time. (I prefer chilled, but it's completely up to you. Just don't chill the pie until it's come to room temp.)