Food & Drink

Stir Crazy: What’s in a name? For this ‘pie’ it doesn’t matter

Deep-Dish Pumpkin Meringue Pie
Deep-Dish Pumpkin Meringue Pie

So, is a pie really a pie when it’s baked in a springform pan?

I’m debating this in my head as I look at a photo of a beautiful dessert called a Deep-Dish Pumpkin Meringue Pie.

It is made in an 8-inch springform pan, though the instructions say it can be baked in a deep-dish pie pan, too. I’m not sure it matters, it looks so good. I’m calling it a pie, though, if I have to take it out of the pan to show it off — pans can hide so many sins — I may call it a big ol’ tart.

Anyway, it’s on my list for Thanksgiving, though I will opt out of topping it with meringue. I know, the presentation with the meringue is pretty spectacular, but I’m not a fan. Give me fresh whipped cream any day instead. Less work, too.

This is a recipe that “blind bakes” the crust. If you’re new to pie-baking and not familiar with the term, it means to bake the crust in a pan without the filling. You put foil or parchment paper on top of the unbaked crust, with pebble-size ceramic pie weights on top of that to fill the bottom and hold the crust down in the pan while it’s baking. You can buy pie weights at kitchen stores, or you can use any kind of dried peas, uncooked rice, even pennies. Blind baking is essential for pies that have very moist filling and need longer baking time; it’s a way to keep a crust from getting soggy. Typically, further baking is necessary.

So, here’s the recipe from my favorite new food site www.thekitchn.com.

Contact me at sboyle@bnd.com, 618-239-2664 or follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

Deep-Dish Pumpkin Meringue Pie

PUMPKIN PIE:

1 (9-inch) pie crust, homemade or store-bought dough

15 ounces pumpkin puree

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

MERINGUE TOPPING:

4 large egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the pie crust to about 12 inches in diameter. Place the pie crust in an 8-inch springform pan or deep-dish pie pan. Crimp or trim the edges so that the sides of the dough stand about 2 inches tall. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the crust is chilled, line the crust with foil or parchment and fill with pie weights. Blind bake the crust for about 15 minutes. Remove the pie from oven and take out the pie weights and foil/parchment. Continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown.

Meanwhile, make the pie filling. Heat the pumpkin puree, white sugar, brown sugar, honey, and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine and heat for about five minutes, or until the mixture starts to come together and steam a bit. Remove from heat. Whisk thoroughly until smooth or quickly mix with an immersion blender.

Whisk in the milk and cream until smooth. Add in the vanilla, eggs and egg yolk and whisk to combine.

Pour pie filling into the pre-baked crust. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. The pie will be done when the center has just set or a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Once cool, gently remove the outer ring of the springform pan.

To make the meringue topping, place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Place a couple inches of water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Whisking occasionally, heat until egg mixture is warm and sugar has dissolved, four to five minutes.

Once warm, return the mixing bowl to the stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg mixture on high until the outside of the mixing bowl is cool. Add in the vanilla and mix until medium-stiff peaks form.

After the pie has completely cooled, dollop or pipe meringue on top of the pie filling. Gently toast the top of the meringue with a kitchen torch, if desired.

Notes: Don’t have a kitchen torch? Try placing the pie under the broiler for just a few minutes or until meringue begins to turn golden brown.

Don't have a springform pan or deep-dish pie pan? This recipe can easily be adapted to a standard pie pan as well. Cooking times may vary.

If it appears that you have too much filling for your crust, do not overfill. Be sure to stop pouring before you reach the edge of the crust. If you have leftover filling, try baking in a greased cake pan for a crustless pie treat.

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