For some people, pie is all about the filling. For others, it’s about the crust. For Roxana Jullapat, baker and co-owner of Friends & Family in East Hollywood, the crust is about the right flour. She uses Sonora wheat flour milled at Grist & Toll in Pasadena. “It lends itself to that beautiful flakiness,” she says.
Jullapat adds cream cheese to her crust to make it more user friendly. “That adds flavor and that adds a little flexibility,” she says, so if you’re a pie crust beginner, this is the one to try. Here are some of her tips for a pumpkin pie recipe:
-Make your first discs of dough no more than an inch thick so it is easier to roll out.
-Flour your counter well before you roll.
-Any time the dough gets too warm, pop it back into the fridge for a bit.
-After you fit the crust into the pan, freeze it before you bake it.
You can freeze your crust and make and freeze your pumpkin puree days or weeks ahead, and you can pre-bake your crust up to three days before you finish the pie. “The reason why we are able to bake 300 pies every Thanksgiving is because we break the steps down over a period of time,” Jullapat says.
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For the filling, Jullapat keeps it simple. “Just let the magic of brown sugar, pumpkin and a touch of spice happen,” she says. “If you’ve got to use canned pumpkin, use the canned pumpkin. But any effort that you make will pay off. That’s what sets this pie apart from the supermarket ones.”
However it turns out, your Thanksgiving guests will be happy. “There’s no pie,” says Jullapat, “even if your crust is not perfect and your crimp is not the prettiest, that goes unappreciated.”
Pumpkin Pie with Sonora Wheat Crust from Friends & Family
Crust for two 9-inch pie shells,
filling for one 9-inch pie
For the pie crust:
1¾ cups Sonora wheat flour (preferably from Grist & Toll)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
¾ cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, cold, cubed
2 tablespoons ice water
All-purpose flour for rolling
For the pie ﬁlling:
1½ cups homemade pumpkin puree 1½ cups evaporated milk
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
Pinch of kosher salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 3 large eggs
To make the crust: Combine the Sonora flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl and toss the cubed butter and cream cheese into the flour. Use a pas-try cutter (or your fingertips) to cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour until the pieces are the size of a dime. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the ice water. Mix gently with your hands until the mixture resembles a raggedy dough; don’t worry if bits of butter or cream cheese are still visible. Flatten the dough into two discs and wrap each individually with plastic wrap. Put one of the discs in the freezer (for up to a month) for later use and refrigerate the other for 30 minutes or up to 48 hours.
Set an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Flatten the disc of dough on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin to form a circle, about 11 inches in diameter. Pick up the circle by rolling it onto the rolling pin, then lay it in a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press the dough onto the bottom of the pan, leaving about one inch of excess dough on the edge. Roll the excess dough down and in towards the pie pan, forming a ring of dough along the rim. To crimp the pie shell, create a pattern of consecutive triangles by progressively pinching the outer side of the ring with your thumb and index finger while pushing with your opposite index finger from the inside out. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes or wrap and freeze for up to a month. Lightly coat the surface of the pie shell with nonstick spray. Line with a circle of parchment paper. Fill half way with pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes or until the shell looks golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Remove pie weights.
To make the pumpkin puree: Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut a small pumpkin in half with a large chef’s knife and scrape out the seeds. Put the halves on a roasting pan cut-side down, add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Carefully turn over one of the halves and press the flesh with the back of a fork. If it mashes easily, like a cooked potato, the pumpkin is ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until safe to handle, but don’t cool completely. The pumpkin will be easier to puree while it’s still a bit warm. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon, put it in a food processor (in batches if necessary) and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a non-reactive (stainless steel, glass or ceramic) container, let it cool completely and store until ready to use.
To make the pie ﬁlling: Whisk together all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. The filling will develop a few bubbles on top. Let it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature until the bubbles dissipate.
Set an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Fill the pre-baked pie shell with the filling. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The pie is ready when the filling is firm around the edges and just a bit jiggly in the center. It is normal for the filling to puff a bit, like a soufflé, but it will settle down once it cools. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. The pie will keep for a day or two at room temperature stored in an airtight container or up to four days in the refrigerator. Enjoy with softly whipped cream.