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Pumpkin Pie with a Leafy Rim

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Serves eight.

Metal and unglazed ceramic pie pans work better than glass for this pie because the crust doesn't shrink as much during blind baking. Unglazed ceramic has the added advantage of making the crust extra crisp. You can double this recipe, using one 15-oz. can of pumpkin; it will be just shy of 2 cups, but that's fine. I love this pie even more when it's made with fresh pumpkin purée. Serve this with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, if you like.

  • 2 disks (1 recipe) Butter Pie Dough 
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup pure solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Make the pie crust and decorative rim: On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the dough disks into a rough round that's 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick (trim an edge to check thickness). Fold the dough in half and ease it into a 9-inch pie pan (preferably metal or unglazed ceramic) and then unfold it. If using a metal or ceramic pan, trim the dough to the edge of the pan. If using a glass pan, trim the dough to 1/8 inch of the edge of the pan (the overhang compensates for shrinkage). Cover and refrigerate. Press the scraps together and roll them out again. Cut out at least 32 small leaves, just slightly larger than 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, and use the dull edge of a paring knife to indent them with thin lines like leaf veins. If you need more dough, borrow a large pinch from the second disk of dough (save the rest of the second dough disk for another pie).

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Cut out as many leaves as you can with a paring knife.
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Vein the leaves with the dull side of the knife. Use gentle but steady pressure to indent each leaf, pressing just less than halfway through the dough.

Put eight of the prettiest leaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a pinch of granulated sugar to add a little sparkle and refrigerate.

Press the remaining small leaves on the rim of the pie shell, as shown in the photo. Chill the crust well, about 1 hour in the refrigerator.

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Press the leaves on the rim of the empty pie shell, overlapping each one slightly and using a little water on the bottom of the leaves to stick them together. Let the widest part of each leaf protrude slightly from the edge of the crust.

At least 20 minutes before you're ready to bake the crust, position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Cover the crust with foil, gently folding the foil completely over the leaf edge. Cover the bottom with a generous amount of pie weights (I use pennies, but raw rice or dried beans are fine). Bake until the crust is pale and no longer looks wet and the sides are golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and prick the crust very lightly with a fork (but don't pierce through it). Bake until the crust is golden all over, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Make the filling and bake: Make a foil ring for the rim. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, and brown sugar. Add the salt and spices and mix well. Add the corn syrup and pumpkin and whisk until smooth. Stir in the cream. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and carefully set the foil ring on top. Handle the pie plate gently when you put it in (and take it out of) the oven; the leafy rim is fragile. Bake until the custard is risen around the edges and is still jiggly (but no longer wavy) in the center, 40 to 50 minutes. The custard will set up more as it cools.

Bake the eight reserved small leaves until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool and set aside. Let the pie cool to room temperature and then chill for at least 2 hours. To serve, set the eight reserved leaves on the surface of the pie in a starburst. Refresh the pie in a 375°F oven for a few minutes to take the chill off the crust.

Photo: Scott Phillips

I ended up baking two pies the night before Thanksgiving. The second pie was started a bit later than the first. I blind baked the first pie's crust as instructed, even though it seemed like an inordinate amount of time to blind bake any crust. With the second pie, I stopped blind baking the crust after 10 minutes, filled it, and baked it with the first pie. The first pie with the 30-minute blind-baked crust was as I feared; the crust was too hard under the custard, and it was difficult to get one's fork through the shell. The second pie came out perfectly; the crust was easy to eat and lovely. The ingredients for the crust were great, but the handling instructions are off. The custard was quite yummy. I would like to try this with half & half next time though, just to ease up on the calories in the recipe.

I have been a proffessional cook for the last 13 years and this is the pie I make for my family every Thanksgiving and Christmas. It really is the best pumpkin pie I've ever tasted. My brother loves it so much I make it for him at least 5 times a year!

I have been making pumpkin pies for over 50 years and this is by far the best one.

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