New Year’s resolution #1: Eat. More. Pie. After having the great honor to be on the panel of judges for the 1st Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake Off Benefit at Spacecraft and sample over thirty handmade pies, I realized that making and eating homemade pie is truly at the top of my personal priorities for the new year, and in life in general. Wild goals of skydiving or going to the gym every day aside, I think one resolution I can stick to this year is to make time for the sweet, slow things in life, like freshly baked pie, straight from the oven.
With its flaky crust, choice ingredients, and impeccable harmony of flavors, Allison Kave’s Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie was the winner of this year’s contest! Allison (pictured below, with her boyfriend, Jay Horton, who won Best Sweet Pie for his Apple Cider Cream) was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and grew up on Long Island. She has been working in the arts for years and is currently the studio manager for an artist. Baking and cooking are her favorite hobbies, and she hopes to someday make the transition into working with food professionally.
She has shared her winning recipe and few insights into her pie-making process with us below:
What was your inspiration for the pie? What do you think is the secret to creating a delicious pie?
I have been baking this pie for years. I’m a big bourbon drinker, which is a traditional pairing with pecans, but I also thought that ginger would add a nice spicy, herbal element to the overall flavor.
The crust has to be flaky and crisp, with no sogginess. I’ve learned that blind baking the crust first makes a big difference, especially with particularly juicy fruit pies. Also, a good balance of flavor, with a bit of salt to counteract all the sweetness, is important.
How long have you been a pie-maker? What was the first pie you ever baked?
I’ve been baking since I was a kid. My mother is a great cook and baker, and she actually opened up a chocolate shop a couple of years ago, called Roni-Sue’s Chocolates in the Essex Market on the Lower East Side. I learned a lot from watching her. My brother Corwin and I were always encouraged to spend time in the kitchen. He’s now the executive chef at Fatty Crab restaurant, so food definitely runs in the family! I don’t have a clear memory of my first pie, but I’d guess it was probably an apple pie, as we often went apple picking in the fall during my childhood.
What meal would you pair with this pie?
It’s a very autumnal pie — I first made it for Thanksgiving dinner years ago, so I know from experience that it pairs nicely with roasted turkey and brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, etc. The ginger in the pie lends itself to a whole different kind of interpretation, however, and I could see someone starting things off with a Thai curry or something similarly spicy and Asian-influenced.
So, for those of you looking to satisfy your sweet tooth and try a new recipe in the new year, read on for a real treat from the winner of the 1st Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake Off Benefit.
Photo by Talisa Chang from the Greenpoint Gazette
Recipe for Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie by Allison Kave
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, diced and chilled
2 tablespoons lard, chilled*
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar*
1/4 cup very cold water
approximately 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups pecans, lightly toasted
2-3 tablespoons good bourbon
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground dried ginger
approximately 2 teaspoons (about a 2-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (a microplane is great for this)
Tip: If you do not want to use lard (although I recommend it as it makes an amazing crust), just replace it with butter and omit the white vinegar from the recipe. I’m not a fan of shortening, but you could substitute that if you want to. Also, leaf lard is really the best thing for pies, if you can find it. I buy it already rendered from my local farmer’s market, and you can often find it frozen at good food markets.
1. Make the crust. I use a food processor for this, and it turns out wonderfully, but you can cut the fat into the flour by hand if you don’t have one. A pastry cutter or a couple of knives will do the trick.
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the flours and salt just to combine. Add the butter, lard, and ginger, and pulse a few times to cut the fat into the flour. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Combine the vinegar (if using) with the cold water. With the processor running, pour the liquid down the feed tube all at once. As soon as the dough begins to form a ball around the blade, stop the machine. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the dough onto it, scraping the bowl and blade with a spatula. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap lightly, and chill for at least an hour before using. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
After the dough has rested, lightly dust a clean work surface with flour, and roll out to a circle approximately 10 inches in diameter, and about 1/8″ thick. Line a buttered pie plate with the dough, and trim the overhang to about 1/2 inch. Do not prick with a fork. Tuck the overhang under the edge between the pie plate and the crust, and make a nice decoration around the edge by pinching the dough between your thumb and forefinger. Return to the fridge to chill for another 20-30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or dried rice, to help the crust hold its shape while baking. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove the weights and foil, and return to the oven for 10 more minutes, until the crust begins to brown lightly. Remove from the oven and cool before filling. If the crust has bubbled up at all on the bottom don’t worry, just lightly press down any bubbles.
3. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. While the crust cools, make the filling. In a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar and the melted butter. Add the maple syrup, eggs, pecans (toast these lightly first for best flavor), bourbon, salt, and both gingers, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into cooled pie crust, and bake for approx 25-35 minutes, or until the pie is set. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. The pie can be frozen after it has cooled. To do so, wrap it well in plastic and then foil, and leave it out at room temperature for a few hours to defrost.
Thanks to Allison Kave for sharing this delicious recipe with us! For more home-cooking inspiration, be sure to check out the links below.