Pecumple Pie, and my 100th Post!
I almost majored in Biology. I loved going into the lab or out into the field, observing the world around me, manipulating things and seeing what resulted. I loved the experiments. I did not, however, love the math. And so I switched majors, became a writer, and then ultimately a baker, pursuing a whole different kind of science– the science of flours and fats and sugars and what happens when you combine them. I still get my hands dirty, but I get to eat the results. Also, the hardest math I have to do is to divide 1 1/3 cups of flour in half.
This pie was an experiment. It was conjured up during the “pie-dal wave” at work the week before Thanksgiving. We were offering up pecan, pumpkin, and apple pies and I wondered, what would happen if you combined all these pies in one? Would it be amazing? Would it be too strange? I was convinced it would be delicious; my coworkers were somewhat more skeptical. Either way, we decided it had to be attempted, and so we spent an entire day trying to decide what to call this pecan-pumpkin-apple conglomeration. Appecankin? Pumpecapple? Pecanplekin?
I’m sure the customers who overheard us thought we were crazy.
In the end, we decided to call it Pecumple Pie. It flows off the tongue so nicely, don’t you think? And can you believe it? The pie tastes even better than it sounds! The separate layers all meld into one glorious concoction, the crunchy, maple-coated pecans adding texture, the pumpkin custard a creamy base, and the apples a bright, tart undertone that makes all the flavors sing.
If you have yet to pick out a pie to make for the holidays, this is it. I mean, how can you argue with a pie that’s three desserts in one? Exactly. You can’t.
Originally I thought I would just arrange some apple slices in the bottom and pour the pumpkin filling over top, letting it all bake together, but then my coworker had the genius idea of making an apple compote instead. That way, the apples could cook down and soften slightly, the juices thickening up before being added to the pie, thus preventing a watery pumpkin layer and a soggy crust.
In the spirit of experimentation, I decided to make my pie crust a bit differently this time– by hand. And by grating the butter. That’s right. Like cheese. This means you can just gently toss it in the flour rather than working it in with your fingers (or your food processor blade), meaning it stays cold and it’s evenly blended throughout the dough. I loved it.
I also decided to add a bit of cream cheese to the pumpkin filling as a little nod to the pumpkin cheesecake I so adore. It adds a nice bit of tang and creaminess without overpowering the pumpkin.
I know this looks like a lot of steps and ingredients, but I promise the most difficult part is making the pie crust. Otherwise, it’s mostly just measuring and stirring. If you want to make it really easy on yourself, buy a premade crust.
© Copyright 2011 Carly Sullivan, Tart to Heart
Pie Crust: (or use whatever pie crust you like)
Yield: 2 9-inch crusts (you will only need one for this recipe, so freeze the other half)
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2/3 cup rye flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
- 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup (or so) ice water
- Grate your cold butter using a standard box grater. Work quickly so it doesn’t turn to mush in your hand. Transfer the grated butter to a bowl and place in the freezer.
- Meanwhile, combine the flours, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Remove the butter from the freezer and toss gently into the dry ingredients until fully coated in flour and evenly distributed, breaking apart any clumps.
- Add the cider vinegar and about 1/4 cup ice water and toss the mixture gently with your fingers. Continue adding ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
- Form the dough into a ball, cut in half, and form each half into a disk. Wrap each half in plastic and place one in the fridge, the other in a ziploc bag in the freezer for your next pie endeavor.
- Allow the dough to chill for at least 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches wide. Place the dough into a deep dish pie pan. If you have a shallower pie pan, that’s fine. I simple recommend cutting the pumpkin filling recipe in half when you get to that step.
- Place the dough in the freezer while the oven preheats to 375°F, then remove from the freezer, prick the bottom with a fork, line with foil and fill with pie weights or beans.
- Blind bake the crust until lightly golden and just set to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- 3 small (or 2 large) tart apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and diced small
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, stirring to coat the apples in the sugar and spices.
- Cook on medium heat until the sugar dissolves and forms a syrup and the apples soften slightly. They should still have a little bite to them.
- Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, then spread in an even layer in the cooled, parbaked pie shell. Set aside.
Ingredients: (if you have a shallow pie pan, remember to half this recipe)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened (reduced fat is fine)
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup evaporated milk (fat free is fine)
- In a mixer, cream the brown sugar and cream cheese until smooth and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl several times so everything is incorporated.
- Add the pumpkin and vanilla and beat well until smooth.
- Add the spices, cornstarch and salt, and then add the milk. Mix until smooth.
- Pour the pumpkin filling over the apple compote in the pie shell. Leave at least a 1/2 inch space for the pecan topping. Any leftover filling can be baked in ramekins and eaten as delicious pumpkin puddings.
- 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Carefully spoon the pecan mixture over the pumpkin mixture in the pie shell.
- Set the pie on a baking sheet and bake at 375°F until the filling is set (it should barely jiggle when moved.
- Let cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate until chilled. Slice, serve with whipped cream, and enjoy the best pie of your life!
For some more pie ideas, check out these recipes from Tart to Heart: