Southern Pecan Pie with Spice Crust
Sweet Dough Spice variation, for a 1 crust pie (below)
1 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Bourbon
2 cups pecan halves or pieces, or a combination, about 8 ounces
One 9 inch Pyrex pie pan
To make the filling, combine corn syrup and sugar in saucepan and stir to mix. Place over low heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. Remove from heat, add butter and allow butter to melt. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs until liquid and whisk in salt and Bourbon. Whisk in syrup and butter mixture, being careful not to over mix. Allow to cool while rolling and forming the bottom crust. Set a rack at the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350° F.
Arrange pecans in crust. Skim foam from top of filling (or the top will have an unattractively mottled surface) and pour over pecans. With the back of a fork, press the pecans down into the filling so that they are covered.
Bake the pie for about 45 minutes, until the crust is baked through and the filling is set and well puffed in the center. Cool the pie on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE: Use the Cocoa flavored Sweet Dough, above, instead of the Spice Crust. Add 4 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate to the hot syrup mixture along with the butter. Allow chocolate to melt and whisk filling smooth. Stir the pecans into the filling, rather than pouring it over them.
WALNUT RUM PIE: Replace Bourbon in filling with dark rum; replace pecans with walnut halves and pieces. Use the plain Sweet Dough, rather than the Spice Crust.
Substitute other nuts, such as hazelnuts or almonds, or a combination of several kinds of nuts.
SWEET DOUGH FOR PIES
One-crust pie, about 10 ounces dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose bleached flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
Two-crust pie, about 1 1/4 pounds dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose bleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs
To mix the dough by hand, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and add to dry ingredients. Toss once or twice to coat pieces of butter. Then using your hands or a pastry blender, break the butter into tiny pieces and pinch and squeeze it into the dry ingredients. Occasionally reach down to the bottom of the bowl and mix all the ingredients evenly together. Continue rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse-ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible. Beat the egg(s) in a small bowl and pour over the flour and butter mixture. Stir in with a fork until the dough begins to hold together, but still appears somewhat dry. Scatter a teaspoon of flour on the work surface and scrape the dough out onto it. Press and knead the dough quickly 3 or 4 times, until it is smooth and uniform.
To mix the dough in the food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in work bowl fitted with metal blade. Pulse 3 times at 1-second intervals to mix. Cut butter into 1 tablespoon pieces and add to work bowl. Process, pulsing repeatedly at 1-second intervals, until the mixture is fine and powdery, resembles a coarse-ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible, about 15 pulses in all. Add the egg(s) to the work bowl and pulse ten times or so, until the dough forms a ball. Scatter a teaspoon of flour on the work surface and scrape the dough out onto it. Press and knead the dough quickly 3 or 4 times, until it is smooth and uniform. Press the dough into a disk (two equal disks for the larger amount of dough). Sandwich the disk(s) of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and press it into a 6-inch circle. Refrigerate the dough until firm, or until you are ready to use it, at least 1 hour.
Storage: Keep the dough in the refrigerator up to two days, or freeze it double-wrapped in plastic. Because the dough is thin, it will defrost quickly at room temperature when you intend to use it.
SPICE CRUST: Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each freshly grated nutmeg and ground cloves to the dry ingredients before mixing in the butter. Double the quantities for the 2-crust recipe.