One of the main reasons I love the holiday season so much is because it provides the opportunity for celebration through the art of food preparation. Basic to our human sustenance, food transformed through the gifts of time and healthful ingredients enriches ones soul and unifies those who partake of it together. When I was at our local farm purchasing apples for the recipe below, we small gathering of women at the counter were encouraged to “place our orders for Thanksgiving pies”. Each of us politely declined by saying we did not want to miss the pleasure of making our own.
Last Saturday we made the journey back out to the seacoast to join a larger group of like-minded individuals for the annual 25-mile Slow Food Thanksgiving Celebration. It was years ago that I became intrigued with the “Slow Food” movement. A non-profit member supported association, it was started in Italy in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life which resulted in the disappearance of local food traditions separating people from the taste and healthful benefits of good food and good community. New Hampshire has it own chapters and the seacoast group puts on this event; they roast the locally grown turkeys and we were each challenged to bring a dish that was prepared from local ingredients all within a 25 mile range of where we live. That was easy living in Canterbury.
I decided to bring a pie since it would travel well because we were spending the first part of the day doing the Portsmouth Holiday Arts Tour (read more about this at the end). Here is the recipe for my Pumpkin Carmel Apple pie lovingly prepared from scratch. Yes, I have a job also, so I did it step by step in several days spreading out the gift of time that went into it.
Pie crust. I prepared this on day one.
In a food processor I combined:
– 1 1/4 cups Brookford Farms ground organic white whole-wheat flour (or use any flour)
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 1/2 tsp white sugar
– 4 oz (1 stick) or 1/2 cup of Brookford Farms unsalted organic butter, chilled and cut into 1/2” pieces
I turned on the processor and blended until the butter chunks were the size of small peas. Then I added:
– 5 T ice-cold water
I pulsed the processor until the dough came together in glob. Depending on the flour you use, this amount of water may be less or more so add tablespoon at a time. Then I formed it into a flattened ball and, on my floured counter top, I rolled it out then placed it in a deep dish pie plate. I covered it with plastic and put it in the refrigerator.
Pumpkin and apple filling. I prepared this on day two.I cut in half and scooped out the seeds of:
– one small pumpkin from our local farmers market
I placed the two halves face down in a baking pan, stabbed them with a knife several times to make steam holes, then roasted them at 400 degrees until they were collapsing and squishy-soft about 1 hour. When cool, I slid the insides out of the shell and whirled them in the food processor until smooth then I completed the filling mix and refrigerated it for the next day. For the filling, mix together:
– 1 cup of pumpkin puree (you could use canned rather than cooking one like I did)
– 1 1/2 tsp flour
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp ground ginger
– 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1/2 cup plus 1T brown sugar (suganat, maple sugar or date sugar could be substituted)
– 1 egg from my neighbor Cindi’s SpringFed Farm
– 3/8 cup Brookford Farms organic creamI quartered, removed seeds and thinly sliced;
– 1 large Apple Hill Farm heirloom apple (I actually used 2 varieties 1/2 of each apple for fun)
I sautéed them for about 10 minutes until slightly soft turning them over once in:
– 1 T Brookford Farms organic unsalted butter
I refrigerated these for the next day. Hudson’s Golden Gem tastes a like a cross between a pear and an apple and the Honey Crisp is a classic sweet pie apple. The Blue Pearmain came to New England in 1800 and is an unusual soft apple, not pithy, delicately sweet, spicy and also pear-like.
Carmel and baking. Day three.I turned the oven on to 450 degrees. I removed the pie crust, pumpkin filling and apples from the refrigerator to get them close to room temperature then started making the caramel like this. I combined in a sauce pan:
– 1/2 cup Brookford Farms organic cream
– 1 cup dark brown sugar (other sugars could be substituted like above)
– 1 cup North Family Farms maple syrup
– 1 T dark molasses
I heated this on low for about 3 minutes until the sugar dissolved, let cool for about 5 minutes then whisked in:
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 4 T Brookford Farms organic unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ pieces
– 6 egg yolks from SpringFed Farm, slightly beaten
I then assembled the glorious batches of goodness like this:
…poured the pumpkin filling into the pie shell and layered the sautéed apples on top….…then carefully spooned the caramel mixture over that.I put the pie into that preheated 450 degree oven on the lowest rack then immediately turned it down to 350 degrees. Depending on your oven the pie will be done in 60 to 75 minutes. It will be done when you see small bubbles in the center of the pie, when the edges of the filling puff up and slightly crack and when a knife inserted in the center pulls out wet but not clumped with filling. You want the pie to still jiggle because it will finish cooking as it cools.
Let it cool completely on a rack then refrigerate. The slice shown at the beginning of this post is not refrigerated (I couldn’t wait!) thus the slightly untidy, less-firm slice. The cool thing about this pie is that once done, the caramel settles to the bottom and the pumpkin rises to the top making a ooey gooey super moist pie – yum!! So the story of this pie continues. On our way to the Thanksgiving Celebration at the end of our tour of Portsmouth artist’s studios, we stopped in to see potters Steven Zoldak and Maureen Mills. We LOVED them and just like the whole 6-degrees-of-separation thingie, she works in the building chairing the ceramics department of NH Institute of Art next to where David works as a mortgage lender and turns out Steven’s retail studio fills another historic building at Strawbery Banke next to me! We talked about going to the 25-mile SFTC, said I was bringing a pie, and when David showed them the video on my phone of the jiggle test they insisted that I try one of their pie plates. I have known for a while that stoneware makes a great crust on a pie so I cannot wait to do all my next pies out of theirs. Stay tuned for more on this test
Can you imagine how beautiful the pie would look coming out of these pie plates?Steven has Hungarian roots so his slip trail stoneware designs evoke that old world craftsmanship which is part of all our heritage.
If you want more information about both their work you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!Thanks to my grandmother and Cook’s Country for the inspiration to create this pie recipe. Please feel free to share this post with anyone.
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