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Classic Southern Pecan Pie

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Serves 8 to 10

Yields one 9-inch pie

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 113

This is not one of those overly sugary, super-gooey pecan pies. Instead, this version strikes just the right balance—the filling is rich but not cloying, so the pecans take center stage, and the flaky, tender crust has enough salt in it to offset the sweetness of the filling.

For the pie dough
  • 7-1/2 oz. (1-2/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 5 to 7 Tbs. ice water
For the filling
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
Make the pie dough

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the largest pieces are about the size of corn kernels, 8 to 12 one-second pulses. Drizzle 5 Tbs. of the ice water over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture becomes a moist, crumbly-looking dough that holds together when squeezed in your hand, 4 to 6 pulses. If the dough is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of ice water and test again.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Gently gather and press the dough into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Let the dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly (it should be firm but not rock hard), 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how long it was chilled. Roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface with a lightly floured rolling pin until it’s about 13 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick. Roll from the center of the dough to the edges and try to use as few passes as possible to avoid overworking the dough. After every few passes, run an offset spatula or a bench knife under the dough to be sure it isn’t sticking, and give the dough a quarter turn. Reflour the work surface and rolling pin only as needed—excess flour makes the crust tough.

Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling it around the rolling pin and unrolling it into the plate. You can also fold the dough in half and unfold it into the plate. To fit the dough into the plate, gently lift the edges to create enough slack to line the sides without stretching the dough. Trim off all but 3/4 inch of the overhang. Roll the dough under itself to build up the edge of the crust. Crimp the edge of the crust with your fingers. With the tines of a fork, prick the crust all over. Chill for up to 1 hour in the refrigerator or about 30 minutes in the freezer.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line the piecrust with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the bottom looks dry and the edges are golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and put a large, rimmed baking sheet on the oven rack.

Make the filling

Put the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl set on a kitchen towel and add the vanilla. Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, cream, and salt in a 1-quart saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, just until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisking vigorously and constantly, very slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the yolks. Strain through a fine strainer set over a 1-quart measuring cup.

Fill and bake the pie
Tip:
Pour the filling over the pecans in a slow, spiral motion; if you go too fast, the pecans may move, leaving gaps in the finished pie.

Spread the toasted pecans evenly in the piecrust. Slowly pour the filling over the pecans. Put the pie on the baking sheet and bake until the center of the pie is slightly firm to the touch and the filling doesn’t wobble when the pie is nudged, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving. The pie is best when eaten warm or at room temperature on the day it’s made.

Make Ahead Tips

The pie dough may be made up to 1 month ahead; wrap it well in plastic wrap and foil and freeze it. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before rolling it out. The pie can be made up to 1 day ahead (store covered with plastic at room temperature), but it's best eaten warm.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 590; Fat (g): fat g 42; Fat Calories (kcal): 370; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 20; Protein (g): protein g 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 50; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 200; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 225; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Colin Clark

Like the previous reviewer I have been baking for quite a few years but had never made a pecan pie. I took her advice and used my own crust recipe. The filling was scrumptious which was a big relief after seeing the number of eggs called for. Like the first reviewer, I whisked like crazy and strained as directed but there were no lumps so I'm not sure how necessary it is to strain. Mine took almost 50 min. to set and I'm not sure why, but the crust wasn't burnt with the extra baking time. This is the best pecan pie I've ever tasted.

With having done 50 years of baking, this is my 1st Pecan Pie. I'm giving this pie 5 stars simply because the filling was so good. Like the description says, it isn't cloyingly sweet, and it set up beautifully - it was perfect. However, I was not so impressed with the crust. Way too abundant amount, way too much butter [my Terra cotta pie pan was dripping with grease] and, it was not tender. I have several crust recipes I use which are very flaky. Going forward I will use this filling in one of my crusts.

Made this for Thanksgiving yesterday in North Carolina where it is pretty much a staple. EXCELLENT! Doesn't take much longer than the no cook recipe. Very subtle caramel hints but just sweet enough. It's a keeper. BTW, I whisked like crazy and strained, but there weren't any lumps. Must have been just right temperature.

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