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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Have I mentioned how much I like the flavors of fall yet? I'm sure I have, but let me reiterate - the earthy tones of fall just agree with me. There's nothing really dainty about apple and pumpkin, and you can combine them with some really strong spices. I don't have to worry about being heavy handed - except when it comes to cloves I suppose. I really am sensitive to cloves and prefer they be used sparingly, if at all.

Prepping the Pumpkin

Lance picked out a very nice sugar pumpkin at PCC for me. There are several types of pumpkin that lend well to baking, but the big pumpkins that are cheap and used for jack-o-lanterns are not a variety that will work. They are too fibrous and dull. The smaller pumpkins can have some really full, buttery flavors. Here is a great link with everything you could want to know (really) about pumpkin varieties:

We used the Baby Pam, I'm pretty sure. Lance hacked it in half for me, we de-seeded and took the slimy fibers out, then Lance cut it into several good sized chunks. I laid the pieces, flesh side up, on a baking pan and covered it with tin foil to keep some of the moisture in. In retrospect, a bit of water would have been a very good thing (2 cups at least). Set the oven at 400 degrees and cook for 45 minutes or until the flesh can be pierced with a fork. I've put butter and sugar on the pumpkin as it roasts in the past, but it's really not necessary especially considering none of it is going to be eaten as is.

Because I didn't use water when I roasted the pumpkin, the food processor had a time cutting up the tougher, dry edges, and I had to add a decent amount of water to get the food to turn in the food processor. It all worked out though and I ended up with about 4 cups of pureed pumpkin (enough for 2 pies or 1 pie and a baking project, muaahaaha).

Pecan Pie Crust
makes one standard pie crust, bottom only
3/4 cup ground pecans
1 1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 Tb palm oil shortening
1/4 cup agave

Combine the pecan and sorghum flours and salt. I just pulsed pecans in a food processor until they were fine enough for a flour - nothing fancy. Add in the palm shortening and agave and use a pastry cutter to combine the flour. When you pinch some dough and it clings together, it's ready to sit in the fridge for 1/2 an hour to an hour to rest.

Pie crust is a difficult thing to approach without a gluten binder, especially if it's vegan and you can't rely on eggs. It's important to handle it very little so the fats don't get too warm. This crust holds up quite well and keeps its form. Like all gluten free vegan crusts I've worked with thus far, it does not roll out. I pressed it into the pie pan.

Quick baking tip - cover the edges of crust that are exposed during baking with aluminum foil to prevent burning. The rest of the pie has moisture from the filling it can collect, but the edges are exposed and will burn.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Date Syrup

20 deglet dates, soaked in water for at least 45 minutes
1/3 cup soak water
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped

Combine the date syrup ingredients in a high speed blender. It should have a caramel taste almost. Deglet dates are lower in sugar and higher in fiber than most varieties, so it shouldn't be overwhelmingly sweet. If you use Medjool dates, only use about 10. They are much higher in sugar content. Honey dates are supposed to be good as well, but I haven't seen any in Washington - Deglet and Medjool seem to be the two varieties.

Pour the date syrup into a food processor along with the remainder of the ingredients:

2 cups pumpkin puree
2 TB tapioca flour (in just enough water to make the mixture smooth - 2 TB water)
1 1/3 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp ginger
1/8-1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
pinch cloves
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt

Once all of the ingredients are combined, poke holes in the bottom and sides of the pie crust with a fork. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. The filling will firm up nicely and should not ripple when you move the pan to check on it.
Serve warm with Vanilla coconut ice cream.

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