Practice Makes Pies: Part II, Thomas Keller

The second trial of pecan pie-making was set last week. Originally, I’d planned on going with the filling recipe from Joy, and at the last minute perusing the internets last week I found a pie recipe from Thomas Keller. With more pecans, more eggs, and more sugar, it just seemed so lusciously over-the-top that I scrapped the plans for Joy and moved on.
Like the previous pie, I encountered some difficulties.
Let’s start with the crust: this time around, I decided I wanted to make a cream-cheese crust. It sounds rich, tangy, and was touted as remaining tender no matter what you did. Sounds good to me. The crust itself was easy enough to mix, or so I thought – when I shaped it into a disk, I kept noticing mottled patches in the dough – but I’d cut it in to the required texture. The dough also seemed noticeably ornery to roll out the following day; it didn’t tear, but it didn’t seem to want to move anywhere either. The crowning insult came when I tried to pre-bake it again. I thought I’d be smart, clever, and merely pre-bake the crust for several minutes so it wouldn’t burn like the last time. After five minutes in the oven, I removed the pan and took a peek. The entire crust, so prettily edged around the pan, had completely slipped down the sides and looked greasy. I almost stopped right there.

Inadvertently, it ended up making a pretty pie – with no upper crust edging, the filling rose even with the top of the crust and looked very full. This was an illusion. Once cut, the pie gushed filling and drooped. The outside held, but towards the center the pie was goopy. I thought it had a rather nice caramelly flavor to it, but overall it didn’t do it for me, and it didn’t quite pass with Rob or Joe either.

Good points on this pie include the high rise of the filling, the mild flavor, and that the pecans on top can be meticulously arranged (not shown) to be pretty if you’re so inclined because they’re not mixed in with the filling. Detractions include the filling that’s more sauce than set (it improved after being cut and let sit for a day past that) and the fact that because the pecans are not mixed with the filling, they don’t have a crunchy sugary coating on them. A good choice if you're not finicky about really pretty slices, but it won't be coming to Erie.

adapted from Thomas Keller via NYMag

crust for a 9-inch pie
2 1/2 c pecan halves
4 eggs
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c light brown sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup
1 c brown sugar corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop half the pecans and set aside. Combine the eggs and sugar in a bowl, then add the corn syrups, butter, bourbon, vanilla, and salt, and mix together until smooth. Add the chopped pecans. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie crust. Arrange the remaining pecan halves over the top and bake in the oven until the crust is golden and the filling is firm to the touch, about 40 minutes (I had to let mine go about five minutes more, but it may not have been enough. Cover the top with the foil if the pecans are browning too much). Allow to cool for about an hour before cutting.


Blogger Brilynn said...

For the last pecan pie I made, I meticulously placed each and every pecan. Then I poured the filling on top and clearly all of my hard work disappeared, sometimes I just don't think things through...

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bummer on the pie!

6:57 PM  
Blogger Bit and Jason said...

This may sound like a really stupid question, but I'm making Thomas Keller's recipe for Thanksgiving this year and its my first time making it. I says to pour mixture into prepared tart shell and bake for 40 mins until inside filling is hardened............does this mean that you bake your tart crust FIRST until done and then add filling and bake again for 40 mins? It seems like it would burn crust? so my question is, do you bake crust? pre bake it, or put filling in unbaked tart shell and bake 40 mins?

6:07 PM  

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