Dorie Greenspan's Thanksgiving Twofer Pie went into Thursday's pie competition round against some proven champions and a new challenger, and despite turning in a solid performance, failed to score a win in either of the categories: Filling, or Crust.
This recipe combines the flavors of pumpkin pie with those of pecan pie, all in one rich, butter-crust-encased package. I've got to say right here that I love pumpkin pie, and I love it best when it's deep, dark, and heavily spiced. I'm not a fan of pumpkin chiffon pie or pumpkin cheesecake - I end up feeling cheated of that intense pumpkin jolt. On the pecan side of the aisle, I'm not as passionate, but I do have a pecan/maple pie that is really good, and feel no need to search out a better recipe (although the Chocolate Pecan Pie I made on Tuesday was also amazing). I was very interested in seeing how the Twofer pie would stack up against the Thanksgiving competition.
I was lucky to be joined in cooking by my oldest daughter, A.L.E., who flew in on Thanksgiving morning. We set right to work baking the Twofer.
A.L.E. eyed the new bottle of Myers Rum, purchased for the 2 tsp of dark rum in the recipe's ingredient list. "If we had any ginger ale, we could make Dark and Stormys."
"Hmm, I think there's some old flat ginger ale in the back of the downstairs fridge."
So, fortified with a delicious taste of the islands (1 shot of dark rum in a glass of ginger ale; technically this drink should be made with Gosling's Black Seal Rum and Jamaican Ginger Beer), we carried on with the recipe. Dorie's crust and both fillings came together pretty well. We made crusts at the same time for the two other pies that we were baking at the same time: Apple and spicy Pumpkin. We used the Cook's Illustrated recipe for these other crusts; scroll down to the end of this post for a comparison of the two pie crust recipes.
The dogs really do eat the crumbs when A.L.E. is cooking!
Our biggest dilemma was which pan(s) to use for the pie. We finally settled on dividing the recipe into two small-ish pies, since the P&Q contained reports of trouble with overflowing pie crusts with 9" single pies.
We chose a 7" foil pie pan and a 7.5" tart pan with deep sides, and aimed for a 1/3 - 2/3 split of the ingredients. It turned out that neither pie shell was completely filled. I probably should have stopped to do some volume calculations before I filled the pans, but I was too lazy.
I was surprised at how little of the pecan filling there was. Also, I didn't split the nuts very well, so I had a higher percentage of them in the shallow pan.
Based on the experiences of those posting on the P&Q, we did not blind-bake the crust. I adjusted the temperatures a bit and baked the pies at 425 for around 10 min, and then 325 until done - fairly quick for the small shallow pie, and somewhat under 45 minutes for the deep tart.
There was just too much going on - apple pie, pumpkin pie, cocktail hour - for me to make specific notes of the exact baking times. I'm just lucky I didn't forget them in the oven and burn them to a crisp.
Thanksgiving day tasting --
- We ate the shallow pie on Thanksgiving. It was OK. Pretty good, but didn't knock either one of us over. The filling was kind of bland, we thought.
- The pecans were distressingly soft for some reason. I'm blaming the nuts not the pie recipe, however. They were very fresh, and I attribute the softness to that (?). I did toast them in the oven before starting the recipe, and they seemed nice and crunchy.
- It is just as much work as making the two separate pies, and personally, I prefer my favorite pumpkin recipe and my favorite pecan recipe to this recipe.
- A.L.E. observed: "It wasn't worth the heartache."
second day tasting --
- We cut into the deeper tart. We thought the flavors were better the second day, and we preferred the deep pie to the shallow one.
- A.L.E.'s comment: "Now I understand the pie."
- I still prefer my pumpkin pie's spicy deliciousness, but I can see how Dorie's pie could be appealing to those less obsessed with pumpkin. So, while this was a good recipe, I preferred the fillings of the other three pies I baked for Thanksgiving, and the crust from the Cook's Illustrated recipe (comparison below, and see my Chocolate Pecan Pie post).
crust comparisons --
I grew up eating pie with an all-shortening crust, and I'm used to its sturdy flakiness. At this point, however, shortening gives me the willies. Actually, I have issues with using any large blocks of fat in cooking. But working with butter is (slightly) more appealing to me than shortening.
Here's where I admit that I've been using the Pillsbury All Ready pie crusts for years. It is easy. I haven't owned a food processor until this summer, and making pie crust has always seemed like a big hassle to me. And I don't mind the taste of the ready-made, especially given that my main interest in eating pie is what's inside the crust. In fact, most of the time I'd be perfectly happy with ramekins of cooked pie filling. And yes, when I pull the magic dough out of the box I'm not forced to confront the crazy amount of fat that pie crust entails.
Owning a food processor has made a huge difference for me, especially in the pie crust department. My first homemade crust in a long time was for the Summer Fruit Gallette - my first official TWD week, back in July. I loved that crust in that recipe. I made minis and froze some of them unbaked. We just finished the last one about a month ago, and it was delicious.
I knew that I wanted to make the Twofer Pie with Dorie's crust recipe, but I also was intrigued by the premise of the vodka-added Cook's Illustrated crust. Thanksgiving provided a perfect set up for a side by side comparison!
- Both recipes employ mostly butter + some shortening. Dorie's has a higher percentage of butter and just 1/3 c of shortening for 2 crusts, and Cook's Illustrated has 1/2 c. shortening for a double crust.
- Cook's Illustrated uses an extra bowl for hand stirring the ice water and vodka into the dough.
- When it came time for rolling, the Cook's Illustrated handled like a dream; it makes a silky smooth dough.
- Neither recipe holds an edge like an all-shortening pie crust - or the Pillsbury pie crust.
- Dorie's is softer, more delicate. A.L.E.'s reaction: "too buttery." It's amazing to see how much difference an additional few tablespoons of butter and a few fewer of shortening can make. We thought the buttery flavor distracted from the pie filling.
- The Cook's Illustrated crust was flakier, crisper, and more neutral in flavor. It didn't compete with the filling, but played its supporting role beautifully.
- Because of superior handling, and perfect blend of taste and flakiness, the Cook's Illustrated crust will become my new standard crust. I think that from now on I'll continue making pie crust from scratch (but there is a box of Pillsbury's in the freezer for crust emergencies!)
Vibi of La Casserole Carrée selected this week's recipe, and you can see her stunning Twofer Tart pictured on her post, and find the recipe - in French and English, no less - there too. Or you can pick up your very own copy of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours, where this recipe is on page 321. For further baking fun, check out the Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll and click on the blogs of 359 other bakers to see how they fared with the pie.