Pumpkin pie has been around since the Pilgrims’ second Thanksgiving in 1623, and there has been stiff competition out there ever since for the best pumpkin pie recipe. I have baked and sampled many, and this version is my favorite because of the delightful interplay between the smooth custard filling and the nutty flavor and crunch of the crust. You can’t go wrong if you serve this pumpkin pie with rum or maple-flavored whipped cream or simply vanilla ice cream.
Makes two 9-inch pies; serves 16 to 20
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup pecans toasted, then finely ground
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter ice-cold, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening ice-cold, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons ice water
3 1/2 cups or 2 cans (15 ounces each) unsweetened pumpkin purée
7 large eggs lightly beaten
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups sour cream
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons milk
Sugar for sprinkling
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
To make the crust, combine the flour, pecans, salt, and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Scatter the butter and shortening pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sour cream and water and process for a few seconds, just until a ball of dough begins to form. Do not overprocess. (To make the dough by hand, place the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture. Add the sour cream and ice water, and mix just until the dough comes together and forms a mass.)
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, gathering all the loose bits, and form into a disk about 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into 2 pieces, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
Have two 9-inch pie pans ready. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Dust the work surface and dough with a little more flour, as necessary, to keep the dough from sticking. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, lift it over the pie pan, and unroll the dough over the pan. Adjust to center the dough, then press it into place. Trim the excess dough by running a knife around the edge of the pan. Set it aside, leaving it rolled out. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Refrigerate the pie crusts while you make the decorative edge pieces.
Use a 1 1/4-inch decorative cookie cutter (such as a leaf, daisy, or star shape) to make cutouts from the dough trimmings. Reroll the scraps to make more cutouts. You should have about 30 to 35 dough shapes per pie. Place in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet and refrigerate.
To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggs, molasses, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Blend in the sour cream and heavy cream. Whisk until smooth and no white streaks are visible. Set aside.
To assemble the pies, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Divide the pumpkin filling between the chilled pie shells. Use a pastry brush to brush milk on the edges of the pastry. Overlap the decorative cutouts around the edge of the pastry, pressing gently. There should be enough to circle each pan. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the pies until the filling just begins to puff at the edges and the center no longer jiggles when gently shaken, about 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the pies, undisturbed, in the oven with the door ajar, for 20 minutes. Transfer the pies to wire racks and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and rum. Using a whisk or electric mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Slice the pies into wedges, top with whipped cream, and serve.
If you prefer to crimp the edges of the pumpkin pies rather than make decorative cutouts, instead of trimming the pastry to the edge of the pan, leave about 1 inch of overhang dough. Turn it under and crimp the edges to make a decorative border.
The pie dough can made, wrapped tightly, and frozen up to 3 weeks in advance. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before rolling it out. The filling can be made up to 1 day in advance. Place in a covered container and refrigerate. The whipped cream can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The pie is best when baked the day you are planning to serve it.