Saturday, December 8, 2012

Southern Pecan Pie

Pecan pie (pronounced “puh-khan” where I live) is a holiday tradition in the South. I make two of these incredibly rich, wonderfully tasty desserts for Thanksgiving every year, plus two for Christmas—one is never enough! Vintage recipes for these pies were concocted to use the pecans native to the lower U.S., also the sugar cane syrup, butter and eggs plentiful in rural areas. My version came from my mom, who found it on a dark Karo corn syrup bottle in the Fifties, but has been adapted to my family’s taste.

Pecan Pie with Fluted Crust
Homemade pie crust is always better, but if pressed for time, I put a fluted edge on a crust from the diary case. Few notice the difference – or are too polite to mention it! I’m including my crust recipe in case you want to experiment. Whatever you do, enjoy!

Pecan Pie
4 large eggs, whisked
4 tablespoons butter, melted
¾ cup sugar
1 cup dark Karo corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350° F
In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, salt, syrup, vanilla and butter. Add whisked eggs and mix well. Add pecans. Pour into unbaked pie shell.
Bake in center of oven for 60 – 70 minutes, until pie crust edges are brown and pecan filling is firm in the middle.

Oven temperatures vary. If the crust appears to be browning too fast, cover the edges with aluminum foil.
Pie filling will deflate as it cools, forming a flat, candy-like crust on top on the pie.
Cane syrup may be substituted for the dark Karo corn syrup.
Real butter and real vanilla make the best pie.
Pecans may be left whole, broken, chopped or ground fine, as desired.

Pie Crust

½ cup shortening’
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons ice water

Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl. Add shortening and cut into flour with a pastry blender. Add ice water, and mix lightly until it forms a dough ball. Roll out on a floured surface to approximately 1 ½ inches larger than your pie plate. Place in the plate. Trim away excess dough and crimp the edge with a fork, or leave the excess dough and create a fluted edge.  

To make a fluted pie crust edge: Roll out the pie crust dough to form a circle approximately 1 ½ inches larger than your pie plate. Place the uncooked crust into the plate with excess draped over the rim. Lightly press the crust into the plate so it takes the plate form and there are no air pockets under it. Fold the excess crust under all the way around the pie plate rim to form a small ridge. Place the side of your index finger on the crust ridge at an angle and gently pinch the dough ridge with your thumb. Place thumb in the indentation just made, press down with your index finger at an angle as before, and pinch with your thumb again. Continue around the crust in this manner until you reach your starting point. The placement of your index finger doesn't matter as long as it’s held at approximately the same angle each time you press down. Practice makes this a fast and easy embellishment.

For a flakier crust, place bowl with flour, salt and cut-in shortening in the freezer overnight.
Overworking the dough will toughen it; handle as little as possible.

For more varieties of pecan pies, also different pie crust edgings, see my Pinterest Board, “For Love of Pie”:


Since publishing her first book at age 27, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jennifer Blake has gone on to write over 65 historical and contemporary novels in multiple genres. She brings the story-telling power and seductive passion of the South to her stories, reflecting her 8th-generation Louisiana heritage. Jennifer lives with her husband in northern Louisiana.

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