Thursday, 15 March 2012
As I swept this pie out of the oven and placed it upon the wire rack with a flourish, mum happened to walk by.
"Is that it?"
A few hours after her skeptical remark, she was softly moaning as she ate a thick slice. This is quite a pie.
Helen has been staying with us for the past few weeks. While peering over my shoulder at these pictures, she started crooning in a M&S voice.
"This is not just pecan pie....this is Poires au Chocolat Pecan Pie..."
(I have to note at this point - before you start thinking I've branded this pie - that the truly genius idea of adding three types of ginger and bourbon to a pecan pie is Allison Kave's, not mine. I did switch up a a few things but she definitely deserves a lot of credit for the recipe.)
The first time I made this I took it to Oxford. My friend Sam was having a birthday pub crawl. I carried it (along with a chocolate ganache tart) from 'spoons to the goth pub, from Far From the Madding Crowd to the Eagle & Child... and so on, from breakfast to supper time.
At that point we cracked open the bag and dug in, eating off napkins and spreading crumbs everywhere.
I learnt three things that day. One, though it did help it keep shape en route, pie dishes are pretty heavy. Two, due to the extremely chilly day, it was very cold when we ate this - it's much better slightly warm. Three, this is an absolute winner of a recipe.
You could serve it with a little scoop of ice cream (I tried a slice with some vanilla) but, to be honest, it's so good on its own that anything else - ice cream, cream, creme fraiche - only dilutes the flavour.
And so, in reply to my mum - yes, this is it.
It is punchy, deep and nuanced. It stands on its own. It is crunchy, silky smooth and flaky pastry all in one bite. It is softly sweet, spicy, nutty, fragrant and many other good things. It needs no more introduction...
Ginger Bourbon Pecan Pie
(Filling adapted from Allison Kave of First Prize Pies's recipe in Remedy Quarterly Issue 7, pastry adapted from Michel Roux's Pastry)
For the pastry:*
250g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt, finely ground
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cold water or milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
For the filling:
100g dark brown sugar
80g light brown sugar
135ml maple syrup
2 tbsp bourbon
a globe of stem ginger, finely chopped + 1 tbsp of the syrup
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
Sieve the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg, water/milk and vanilla together. Place the cubed butter into the flour bowl and rub the butter into the flour until it resembles wet sand. Add the egg mix in one go and mix with a knife. Pull together with your hands. Tip onto a surface and squish with the palm of your hand a few times to combine. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out 2/3 of the pastry into a big circle of about 3-4mm thickness. Lightly grease the pie dish then line with the pastry. Crimp the edges if you want. Don't prick the base. Return to the fridge to chill while you make the filling (or for up to 24 hours, wrapped in clingfilm).
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. Tip the pecans onto a oven tray and place into the oven. Toast for a few minutes until they smell wonderful and look slightly darker. In a big bowl combine the sugars, eggs, maple syrup, bourbon, three types of ginger and salt together. Add the slightly cooled pecans and stir. Pour into the tart case.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 220C/450F, then reduce the heat to 180C/350F and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. You may need to cover the top of the pie with foil to stop it browning/burning too much. The pie will have risen and cracked but will fall and settle when it cools. Best served slightly warm.
*This recipe makes about a 1/3 more than you need. You could use it for another tart or - as it's not a sweet pastry - for a savoury recipe. Or you could run a lattice over the pie - but I would worry that it would stop the gorgeous crust forming.