Come the Holiday season pumpkin pies are bound to be on many a holiday table. There are those who love pumpkin pie and those who don’t. I have to admit store bought pumpkin pies can often be pretty uninspiring. However, years ago I came upon Nancy Silverton’s pumpkin pie recipe in her Pastries from the La Brea Bakery cookbook and garnered new perspectives on how beguiling a pumpkin pie can actually be. All of Nancy Silverton’s cookbooks, and MOZZA in particular, are my favorite resources for some guidance or inspiration. Her taste is impeccable, her recipes are refined and exacting, and you can be confident that the results will deliver perfection.
Bear with me. This recipe is indeed more complicated than opening a can of pumpkin puree, tossing it together with a few spices and a couple of other ingredients, and popped into the oven in 10 minutes. Just to reassure you, this pumpkin pie really is worth all the extra effort invested. I’ve had rave reviews every time I’ve served it. This is a recipe you will be revisiting for beautiful finishing flourishes for your holiday meals for years to come.
I have adapted Nancy Silverton’s recipe with a few minor adjustments.
An Unforgettable Pumpkin Pie makes 1 10 inch pie
I would suggest roasting the yams and pumpkin, pureeing them both, and making the pastry dough the day before making the pie. Having all the ingredients readily at hand makes assembling the pie a whole lot easier on baking day.
The yams and pumpkin can be baked together. Preheat the oven to 400 f / 200 c. Cut the pumpkin into quarters. Remove the seeds and stringy membranes and place on a baking tray, skin side down, along with the yams. Brush all with olive oil and transfer to the oven. Both the pumpkin and the yams will take about 45 minutes. The pumpkin should be very tender and a deep orange. The yams should be very soft and almost bursting when finished. Remove the skins from both. Mash the yams and pumpkin separately and set aside to cool. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate.
Special item: 10 inch pie pan
For the dough:
- 4 oz/113 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco), chilled
- 2¾ cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt (or flaked sea salt)
- ¼ cup ice water
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the well chilled cubed butter, shortening, and salt and mix on low for 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Turn the mixer up to medium and mix another 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour in 3 batches, mixing on low between each addition, until it is the consistency of a coarse meal. Begin adding small amounts of the ice water just until the dough begins to come together. You will probably will not need to use all the water and by all means do not over mix!
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed a few times to gather it into a ball. Divide the dough in half, flatten each into a disc and wrap in plastic film. Chill one of the discs for at least 2 hours or overnight. Freeze the remaining dough for another use.
When the dough is well chilled, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into an 11 inch circle about ¼ inch thick, flouring the dough as necessary. Fold the dough into quarters and place the counterpoint in the middle of the pie pan. Unfold the dough and arrange it it evenly in the pan, allowing the excess dough to hang over the edges. Trim the dough, leaving ½ inch of the dough hanging over the edge. Fold the ½ inch section of the dough underneath so it is even with the rim of the pan to create a thicker edge. Make a scalloped edge by pushing the thumb of one hand against the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Continue around the entire edge of the dough. Chill until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 f/ 180 c
Lightly brush the entire interior of the pie shell with melted butter. Line the bottom and sides of the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or metal pie weights, making sure the beans or weights are pressed tightly into the corners of the dough. Bake for about 25 minutes until the top of the crust is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the beans or pie weights and carefully peel off the paper lining. If the bottom of the pie shell is not uniformly browned, return it unlined to the oven for 5 or 10 minutes until fully cooked and lightly browned.
While the pie shell is baking you can prepare the filling.
For the filling:
- 2 cups roasted yam puree
- ½ cup roasted pumpkin puree
- 2 oz/ 57 g unsalted butter
- 1 vanilla bean (or 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
- 2 extra large organic eggs
- 1 extra large organic egg yolk
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tablespoon brandy (or rum)
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or flaked sea salt)
- 1 very small pinch of ground cloves
1 small pinch white pepper
Place the yam and pumpkin purees into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and process until very smooth.
In a small sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat. Cut open the vanilla bean lengthwise. With the back of a knife scrape out the flesh and seeds and add to the butter along with the pod. Swirl the pan to insure the butter cooks evenly and doesn’t burn. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Promptly remove from the heat and set aside. Remove the vanilla pod and reserve it for another use. Once the butter is cooled and the black burned bits have settled to the bottom of the pan carefully pour the butter into the food processor leaving most of the black bits behind in the pan. If you are using Vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean, add it to the food processor along with the butter. Puree the ingredients in the processor until smooth.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, cream, milk, maple syrup, brown sugar, brandy or rum, ginger, allspice, salt, cloves, and pepper. Add the pumpkin yam mixture and whisk until the mixture is completely combined and smooth. Pour the pie filling into the pie shell to about ¼ inch below the top edge. Giggle the pan to level the filling.
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 to 5 gratings fresh whole nutmeg
Lightly brush the scalloped rim of the blind baked pastry shell with milk.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and sprinkle evenly over the surface of the pie filling.
Place the pie in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour, checking the pie after 40 minutes. The filling should be just set without quivering. Do not be tempted to over bake as this will cause the surface of the pie to crack while cooling.
Cool the pie on a cooling rack until it is room temperature and ready to serve. If you intend serve the pie later, seal with plastic film and refrigerate. Be sure to ring the pie back to room temperature for serving.
Serving: Serve at room temperature with a lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a small dash of vanilla extract.
Cherry season has arrived in the northern hemisphere and fortunately some of those gorgeous cherries have even made their way to our supermarkets here in Chiang Mai. Cherry trees require exposure to cold weather to germinate so commercial cherry growing is not possible here in the tropics. There are mountain cherries, a small Himalayan variety, that do grow wild in the mountains in the very north of Thailand and occasionally appear in local markets during the cold season. However they small and sour and nothing like the cherries from further north. So I decided an indulgence was duly justified and came home with a kilo of plump dark red Bing cherries. Delicious just as they are, but I also really had a hankering to make an old favorite French clafouti. A classic clafouti is traditionally always made with cherries when they are in season. However the recipe works beautifully with other seasonal fruits and berries as well. Clafouti is remarkably simple to make and very much in keeping with the idea of easy no fuss good wholesome food. The plump cherries are the star here and sure to please!
Fresh Cherry Clafouti serves 6 to 8
This recipe follows Julia Child’s no-nonsense classic Clafouti recipe with a few minor adaptations. I like really loading up the baking dish with cherries and adding a dash of almond extract to the batter that nicely compliments the flavor of the cherries. In fact the French do not pit the cherries, believing the pits add a slight almond flavor to the baked clafouti. I am not convinced and, with practicality in mind, much prefer the cherries pitted.
- 4 cups fresh dark red pitted cherries/ about 24 ounces
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup sugar, divided
3 large organic eggs
- 2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- pinch of sea salt
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350f/180c
Lightly butter a baking dish that is about 1 ½ inches deep and set aside.
Pit most of the cherries and set aside, reserving some whole cherries on the stem for garnishing.
Note: Cherry/ olive pitters are available in cooking shops and online and well worth the small investment. If you don’t have one I have read using a sturdy plastic straw works, although I’ve not tried it.
Using a blender, combine the milk, 1/3 cup of sugar, the eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, and flour and blend on medium speed until very smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour about a ¼ inch layer of batter into the buttered baking dish and set the remaining batter aside. Place the baking dish into the preheated oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until the layer of batter is just set. Remove from the oven and place on a work surface.
Arrange the pitted cherries on their sides onto the layer of set batter, following the shape of the baking dish, working from the edge to the center until the cherries fill the baking dish.
Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar over the cherries. Then pour the remaining batter over the cherries until they are nearly covered, but leaving the tops exposed. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Keep an eye on the clafouti as you want it to be lightly browned and puffed up slightly, but not over baked. The clafouti is done when a thin skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack until the clafouti reaches room temperature.
Ideally clafouti should be just slightly warm from the oven. Dust with powdered sugar, slice, and serve along with a few whole reserved cherries.
You might also like Clafouti withFresh Figs ,Blueberries, and chevre ( see recipe here)
Voila…. Bon Appetite.!
Tarte Tatin, also known as Tarte des demoiselles Tatin, is one of France’s most legendary desserts. The idea for this novel upside down tart is attributed to the Tatin sisters, Stephanie and Caroline, who made the tarts in the family’s Tatin Hotel in Lamonte-Beuvron in the Solonge region of central France in the 1830’s. Apples are baked in a shallow pan along with butter and sugar topped with a pastry crust. Once the apples are caramelized the tart is inverted onto a serving plate revealing the deeply caramelized apples sitting atop a crisp sweet pastry crust. It’s all quite magical in its simplicity. The tarte Tatin is remarkably easy to prepare while it is its buttery caramelized apple filling that gives it an unassuming elegance and a notoriety that is all its own.
The American take on this idea is of course pineapple upside down cake. Absolutely delicious as well. For recipe (Click here).
Tarte Tatin serves 6 to 8
- sweet pastry, rolled out into a 12 inch round and chilled
- 1 ½ kilo/ 3 pounds firm tart apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 8 tablespoons/4oz unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Select a heavy bottomed oven proof pan or skillet and place it on the stove top over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the pan and stir in about 1/3 cup sugar into the butter. Cook for a couple of minutes until the sugar is melted and bubbling up nicely in the butter. Begin placing apple quarters into the pan, rounded side down, around the perimeter of the pan. Then continue to fill in the center of the pan with apple quarters in a single layer.
Sprinkle another 1/3 cup sugar over the apples and drizzle with with half of the remaining melted butter.
As the apples cook you will notice some shrinkage. Push the apples together in the pan and slip more apple quarters in between them. The idea is to completely fill the bottom of the pan as tightly as possible with apples. Wedge in any remaining apple quarters wherever there is any space. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the apples and drizzle with the remaining melted butter.
You will notice the apples releasing their juices. Compress the apples every 10 minutes while they continue to cook. The idea is to slowly reduce the juices and incorporate them into the sugar and butter as it caramelizes. This can take 20 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the apples and check underneath them by lifting them up with a fork. The caramelized sugar under the apples will be a deeper color than the juices you will see bubbling up around the perimeter of the pan. You want a nice golden amber color in the bottom of the pan, so be mindful that the caramelized syrup does not darken too much which can have a bitter flavor.
Once the caramel has thickened and is bubbling up around the apples remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375f/190c
Roll out your pastry about 2 inches larger than the pan of cooked apples and chill until the apples have cooled down a bit more. Then place the pastry dough centered over the apples in the pan. Using a silicone spatula gently tuck the excess dough down the inside edge of the pan to encase the apples.
Using a skewer prick holes into the dough that will allow steam to escape while the tart is baking in the oven.
Place the pan into the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check the dough to see if it is nicely browned and there is caramel bubbling up around the edges of the pan. If not cook another 5 minutes or so as needed.
Remove the tart pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the pan to be sure there are no sticking points.
After about 5 minutes place a large platter over the pan.
Using oven mitts grip the platter and the pan together and flip the pan over in one decisive movement.
The tart should drop onto the platter quite easily. If there are any apples left behind, gently remove them with a knife and place them back into their place on the top of the tart.
Traditionally Tarte Tatin is served warm. Simply slice using a wet knife at the table and serve with a pitcher of chilled cream, ice cream, or thick yogurt.
Here is a twist on Thailand’s very favorite sweet treat!
Borrowing from the traditional Thai pairing of sliced fresh mango eaten with sticky rice drizzled with coconut cream, I have instead made a tart with a coconut jasmine rice pastry cream scented with kaffir lime leaves that is topped with freshly picked sliced mango. This tart makes a tantalizingly colorful presentation that is sure to make a stellar tropical finale for a summer meal and well worth the little extra effort. For more information about Thailand’s mango and sticky rice (click here)
Of course choosing your mangoes is paramount. Ideally they should be freshly picked, plump, blemish free, and firm with an ever so slight give when very gently pressed. Their aroma should be flowery without a hint acidity. There are of course many varieties to choose from ranging from deep green, yellow, pastel yellow, orange, and various shades of red. Best to buy them not more than a day before you intend to use them and refrigerate them to slow down the ripening process. Peel, slice, and arrange the mango over the pastry cream just before serving for maximum flavor and freshness.
The rest of the preparations can be made in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to serve.
Fresh Mango Tart with Coconut Jasmine Rice Pastry Cream
Sweet Pastry (pate sablee) Tart Shell 10 or 11 inches, fully baked
As making the tart shell requires several steps including chilling the dough at several stages, as well as baking it, it is best to get this out of the way in advance. A fully baked tart shell cooled to room temperature and sealed n a large freezer bag will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
Everyone who bakes has there own favorite tart pastry dough recipe so the choice is yours. Like many cooks I am always trying different recipes in a search of that perfect pastry dough that is easy to handle, sturdy when baked, and has at sweet crumbly sand like texture that classic tart shells should embody.
Likewise you can cook the rice and make the pastry cream in advance as well. Both will be combined and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the tart.
For the Coconut Jasmine Rice
- ½ cup Thai jasmine rice
- 2 cups coconut milk
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 kaffr lime leaves
Preheat the oven to 325f/170c
After briefly boiling the rice finishing off the rice in the oven avoids the inevitable scorching of the rice in the bottom of the pan when cooked on the stove top.
Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed oven proof sauce pan set over medium heat on the stove top. Stir occasionally as the liquid heats up to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes while stirring so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Cover the pan with a lid and place it in the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once about half way through the baking time. Remove from the oven, remove the kaffir lime leaves and discard, and set the rice aside to cool.
For the Coconut Pastry Cream
- 2 cups coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large organic eggs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Have ready a mixing bowl with a fine mesh strainer set over the bowl.
Place the coconut milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium low heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and drop in the kaffir lime leaves. Stir now and again while the coconut milk is heating.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Then add the eggs and whisk until smooth.
Once the coconut milk is just under a boil ladle about a third of the hot coconut milk slowly into the egg cornstarch mixture while whisking continuously until incorporated.
Then pour the egg mixture back into the hot coconut milk and whisk continuously. The mixture will thicken after about 2 minutes with a custard like consistency. Continue to heat while continuously whisking until the custard is just about to break into a simmer with just a few little bubbles appearing on the surface. You do not want the custard to boil as the eggs in the mixture will begin to curdle! Promptly remove the pan from the stove and pour the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl. This will stop the cooking and remove any curdling that may have occurred. Discard the kaffir lime leaaves.
Let cool a few minutes and then stir in the butter, a tablespoon full at a time, while whisking until the pastry cream is very smooth.
Place the bowl of pastry cream on a cooling rack and press cling film directly onto the surface to avoid a skin forming on the surface as it cools.. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate if not using immediately.
When both the coconut rice and the pastry cream have cooled to room temperature add the rice to the pasty cream and fold it in until evenly distributed. Then cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour or more before assembling the tart.
- 2-4 mangoes depending on size
Peel the mangoes with a vegetable peeler and slice the mango into thin pieces lengthwise with the knife slicing parallel to the center stone/seed. Cover and refrigerate.
Assembling the Tart
Remove the fully baked tart shell from the refrigerator. Spoon the coconut rice pastry cream into the tart shell to about three quarters full and smooth the surface evenly. Cover the tart with cling film and refrigerate until well chilled.
Arranging the freshly sliced mango over of the pastry cream should be done as close to serving time as possible for maximum freshness!
Arrange the sliced mango over the surface of the pastry cream to your liking, trimming the mango slices as needed. Serve promptly, or cover the tart and refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.