Friday, 16 October 2015

Kitchen Experiment: Maple Pecan Pie

I unfortunately had to attend a funeral this morning, otherwise I would have written this blog post a little earlier. A friend of my brother's suddenly lost his father this week, and he, our mother, and I went to offer our sympathies. Nothing like a funeral to help you put things in perspective. Prayers and condolences go out to the family of the late Patrick Sheahan.

I hope everyone has got great plans for the weekend! I have anyway: a good friend of mine is down visiting from Roscommon for the World Power Lifting Championships that are on in Limerick, of all places. While she is down, we're taking the opportunity to have a mini Halloween house decorating party! We will be doing a bit of baking, and hanging up pound shop tat, and watching Tim Burton movies till our eyes come out.

As I promised in my last post, the first after a long compassionate break, I am going to let you in on the process that I followed for my most recent concoction: maple pecan pie!

Sunday was Thanksgiving in Canada, and my Canadian work colleague invited my brother and I to celebrate with his wife and a few friends. They had a variety of food, and it was really lovely to experience what is traditionally eaten as part of dinner, and also to be part of their pre-dinner tradition of introducing ourselves in turn to the guests at the table, and saying one thing we're thankful for. I'd love to do that before every meal anymore.

They had turkey (of course), roasted root vegetables, steamed broccoli, mashed sweet potato with maple syrup and walnuts, and stuffing. For dessert, other guests had brought apple pie and cinnamon rolls, and I brought my offering of a tart (snicker).

I did a bit of research as to what kinds of desserts are popular for eating after a Thanksgiving meal. Most of my research turned up results about Thanksgiving in the States, but my colleague assured me they eat pretty much the same things in Canada. I was originally thinking of doing a pumpkin pie, but pumpkins weren't on sale yet when I had to make something to bring.

This was a complete experiment: I'd never made a pie like this before. I read a few recipes online, and checked a few in my numerous cookbooks, and most of the recipes were the same. They all followed the basic formula of one 9 inch (22 centimetre) pie shell, filled with a mixture of 3 medium eggs, 6 ounces (170 grammes) brown sugar, 3 ounces (85 grammes) melted butter, 4 fluid ounces (120 millilitres) of maple or corn syrup, and about 5 ounces (140 grammes) chopped pecan nuts. Some recipes asked for the filling to be thickened with a little flour, and some asked for more syrup.

However, there was always one things on which the various recipes I read could not agree: was the crust blind baked or not.

So, I followed the recipe from one of the cookbooks I had which asked for the raw pastry and filling to be cooked at the same time. This meant cooking the pie at 200ºC (400ºF, Gas Mk.6) for the first half of cooking, then at 150ºC (300ºF, Gas Mk.2) for the second half. 

I made a nice buttery pastry case, using a traditional shortbread crust like I did on my treacle tarts that I made a few months back. I then filled it with chopped pecan nuts, and poured in the filling. I cooked it as instructed. The result looked wonderful, but on eating it was revealed that it had gone soggy in the middle. It still tasted epic, though.

After cooking, I then laid some whole pecans on top, glazed them with extra maple syrup, then gave it another 10 minutes to set them into place; worked a treat. Although, this recipe was very heavy on my bottle of maple syrup, which my brother had bought while on his travels in Ontario last month.

Next time I make it, which will probably be tonight, I think I'll make a few adjustments
  • I will blind bake the crust so that it doesn't go soggy.
  • I won't use my pure maple syrup, but will instead use my maple flavoured golden syrup; the pure stuff is expensive, and this recipe needs a lot, so I'll only use it for glazing.
  • Following on from one of the recipe that suggested thickening with flour, and taking inspiration also from my treacle tart recipe, I might try adding some ground almonds to the filling to make it a little firmer and not as gooey.


So, keep your eyes peeled for an updated version! I will be beavering away on making a more perfect version of this. Although, if the feedback I got from the Thanksgiving guests is anything to go by, this one was pretty darn good!

THIS TIME IN 2014: Orange Chocolate Fudge
THIS TIME IN 2013: No-Churn No-Cook Strawberry Cheesecake Ice-Cream (EGG FREE, WHEAT FREE)

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