Learn how to make the great American classic Pecan Pie, with a quick video tutorial! A flaky all-butter pastry with a perfectly set, soft custardy filling with beautiful pecans, this is arguably the mother of all pies.
One might ask what this Japanese born Aussie gal is doing, determined to master this great American classic.
Well, it goes back to the story of this website. This great big wonderful online world known as the internet. This former corporate gal never expected to be blessed with this wonderful opportunity to share the food she loves with people in the far corners of this big wide world.
From Denmark to Iceland, Mongolia (seriously!) to Argentina, and many from my home country of Australia. And many MANY from America.
I put that down to my taste in food. Southern Fried Chicken – swoon. Fall apart brisket makes me want to cry. I’m a disgrace to my country because I regularly declare that America does the BEST burgers in the world. I believe Buffalo Wings are one of the greatest inventions ever, and that Gumbo was brought onto this earth just for me.
And thus with Thanksgiving fast approaching, it had to be that I’d share a great American holiday classic especially for my American readers.
My friends. Pecan Pie. Be still my beating heart. The glorious nutty pecans, that caramely-custardy filling. That flaky buttery pastry. It’s heaven in the form of a pie.
You’ll find an extensive list of credits in the recipe, all of whom I referenced in a bid to come up with my version of a great Pecan Pie. And it all starts with the pie crust.
Store bought? Sure, go ahead. I don’t even know if we can get store bought pie crusts here in Australia, I’ve never looked.
When I make pie, it’s always entirely from scratch. Not from snobbery, it’s just that we don’t have nearly as much ready made things here in Australia (like bread doughs etc), so I’ve been brought up learning how to make these kind of things from scratch.
I know there are recipes out there that swear by using shortening in pie crusts to make them flaky. And it’s not that I’m adverse to it as such – it is sold here (butter section, for fellow Aussies reading this). But the fact is, it just doesn’t add flavour. And using only butter still yields a fantastically flaky crust. So I opt to stick with butter. And when I was researching around about Pecan Pie, I saw that Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen said the same thing, and I felt validated.
So all butter it is.
And my food processor. To make it quick work. Watch the video. (Below recipe)
As for the pecans. Well, it’s hard to go wrong with these nuts. Except one little tip. Gotta toast the nuts that go INTO the filling. It really truly brings out the flavour. I promise you won’t regret the extra 3 minutes it takes to do this before you chop them up.
Keep a handful of them whole to decorate the top. No need to toast these ones. Unless you don’t want to decorate your pie. Just go ahead and toast and chop them all.
The Filling is pretty straight forward. There are many Pecan Pie variations – chocolate, maple, etc etc – but if you’re sticking with the classic, the ingredients are fairly standard. Egg (which sets it like custard), sugar, corn syrup (don’t worry, there are subs if you can’t find corn syrup), butter, pinch of salt and vanilla. Oh – and bourbon, if you want to keep it real. 🙂 Though if not, just leave it out.
And this is how it looks after the most difficult step of all – leaving the Pecan Pie until it cools completely.
And I’m serious here – you need to let it cool COMPLETELY in order for the filling to set. Don’t get impatient. Now is not the time.
The filling should be set so you can slice it without it oozing everywhere, but it’s soft and custardy. It does not look like a smooth set caramel, like in my Salted Caramel Tart, and it’s not meant to.
How I love thee.
I may not be a Star Baker.
My pie crust looks… err… rustic. 🙂 There are more perfect looking ones out there.
But it’s buttery and flaky, crumbly and delicate, just as it should be. That filling is set but it’s soft and custardy. And those pecans are so… well, pecany.
It’s obscene how much of this I can inhale in one sitting.
– Nagi xx
- 1¼ cups plain white flour (all purpose flour)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 115 g / 1 stick unsalted butter , cold, cut into 1cm/ ⅓" cubes
- 2.5 - 3 tbsp ice cold water
- 1 1/4 cups pecans , enough to decorate top
- 1 1/4 cup pecans (for filling)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup / 200g brown sugar, packed
- 60 g / 4 tbsp unsalted butter , melted
- 3/4 cup / 185 ml light corn syrup (Note 2 for subs)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp bourbon (or rum or marsala, or other liquor of choice, or omit)
Place flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse twice.
Scatter over butter. Pulse 5 times or until the largest pieces are the size of peas.
Turn food processor on low and add 2.5 tbsp water, keep blitzing for 7 to 10 seconds until it forms crumbly clumps (see video). Pinch with your fingers - it should come together - if not, add 1/2 tbsp water until it does. Don't blitz longer than 20 seconds.
Turn out crumbs onto work surface, use hands to bring together into a ball then pat into a 1.5cm / 1/2" thick disc. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180C/350F (standard) / 160C / 320F (fan / convection).
Scatter 1 1/4 cups pecans on baking tray and bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until you smell them.
Remove from oven and roughly chop. Set aside.
Remaining 1 1/4 cups don't need toasting - they are for the top.
Dust work surface with flour.
Place dough on work surface, dust top with flour. Roll out into 25cm/12" circle, patching up cracks as required. Remember: the crumblier the dough, the more flaky your pastry which is GOOD!
Roll the pastry onto your rolling pin, then roll it out onto a 22cm / 9" pie tin. Press in, then trim edges with scissors with a 1cm / 0.3" overhang.
Turn the edges under and press down neatly. Crimp if desired (see video).
Place 2 large pieces of baking paper over the pie crust then fill with pie weights or dried beans or rice. Weight is essential to avoid shrinking pastry.
Bake 20 minutes, then remove pie weights and let the pastry cool for 5 minutes before filling.
Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add remaining Filling ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Stir through chopped pecans.
Pour into crust - it should fill it about 1 cm / 2/5" from the top (you may have excess if your pastry shrank).
Top with whole pecans in desired pattern.
Place pie in oven. Bake for 50 minutes, checking at 40 minutes, until it doesn't jiggle much when you shake it but the centre is still soft when you touch it (see video).
It will be puffed and cracks will look extreme, but it will deflate as it cools. If your pastry / pecans are browning too quickly, cover with foil.
Cool completely before serving, to allow the custard to set - 2 - 4 hours.
Slice, and serve with ice cream or cream if desired - I don't need either!
Store in an airtight container - great for 2 days, but I'm perfectly happy with mine even after 4.
1. PIE CRUST: This is a classic all-butter shortcrust pastry which does require some practice, though hopefully my video and tips will help even first timers nail it! It's a bit fiddly because the dough is chilled before rolling out so it is prone to being breaking so you need a deft touch / patching it up with bits of extra dough. Also, you need to work quickly to keep the butter from melting which is how the pie crust ends up beautifully flaky and delicate.
If you're a first timer, consider using this egg pie crust which has egg in it, which makes it more pliable and easier to roll out. It is not quite as delicate as the classic but it is still wonderfully flaky and crumbly, as it should be!
EASIER EGG PIE CRUST: Add 1 egg instead of water, blitz until it looks like what you see in the video i.e. still crumbly but when you pinch some in your fingers, it comes together. Turn out onto work surface and bring together with hands into a ball. Then roll the pastry out WITHOUT refrigerating and put it in the pie dish, per recipe. Trim and crimp edges if desired. THEN refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then cover with baking paper, fill with pie weights and go back to following the recipe.
STORE BOUGHT: Use a 9" / 22 cm store bought pie crust.
2. CORN SYRUP: I brought back Karos corn syrup from America which is a popular brand over there. However, the good news is there are some great sub options for those who can't get corn syrup! Golden syrup is a fantastic substitute, and in fact adds another layer of flavour to the Filling. There are pie experts out there who actually prefer Pecan Pie made with golden syrup rather than corn syrup, such as Smitten Kitchen. Glucose also works - as I found out when I didn't have corn syrup, and it too is derived from corn. But it is thicker so needs to be diluted - use 3 tbsp water + 1/2 cup of glucose, microwave then whisk to combine. Then use in place of corn syrup in the recipe.
3. MORE CRUST TIPS: If it's super warm where you are, place the dry ingredients in the food processor and refrigerate to make it cold. Also chop the butter then refrigerate before use. If you have hot hands (me, me!) run your hands under cold water before handling the dough. In extreme circumstances, I've been known to cradle an ice pack! Work quickly because the key to a flaky pastry is to ensure the butter bits in the pastry remain in tact and don't melt before going in the oven - those butter bits are what creates the flakiness in the pastry.
4. Recipe References: I referred to many recipes throughout the creation of mine, including: Smitten Kitchen, Food Network, Ree Drummond, I Am Baker, and Cook's Illustrated ( <- subscription based so I can't link).
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 12 servings.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
One of the most painful recipe videos I’ve made. Can’t tell you how many stops-and-starts and hand washing between handling dough / camera was required for this!!!
LIFE OF DOZER
What to do with left over pie crust….