Ettie's Eats: Mom's Pecan Pie
Fill up on weekly kitchen experiments, recipes and local cooking tips from our assistant editor, Ettie Berneking.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.
Christmas is just a week away, and I’m happy to report that my Christmas shopping is finally done! The presents are wrapped, the house is decked in plenty of mismatched lights and ornaments and my kitchen has been cluttered with cookie cutters, rolling pins and bags of frosting. It’s perfect!
This year, in order to get ahead of the game, I decided to make my mom’s pecan pie early and stick it in the freezer until Christmas. Pecan pie does really well in the freezer. Just bring it out a day or two early so it can thaw. I was feeling especially confident about this pie recipe since I had just helped my mom assemble two of these beauties for Thanksgiving, and my mom had even sent me home with the pie crust already made and ready to be rolled out. Nothing could go wrong!
This pie really is a breeze. Once the crust is rolled out and fitted into the pie pan, the filling takes a whole 5 minutes to whip up and pour in. It’s the crust that takes a little extra TLC. Over the last two years, I’ve learned a few piecrust secrets:
1. Always add a teaspoon of distilled white vinegar to your dough. It adds that sought-after flakiness.
2. Make sure the dough has come to room temperature before you try to roll it out.
3. Firmly press the dough into the pie pan, and make sure it’s really fitted into the creases of the pan.
4. This might be the most important! Make sure you know the size of the pie pan you’re working with.
Tip No.4 is where things went terribly wrong for me. The pecan pie recipe makes 1 9-inch pie, but I was working with a 10-inch pie pan. That 1 inch made all the difference and not in a good way. After rolling out the crust once, I realized it was way too small to fit in the pan, but since I didn’t want to over-work the dough, I carefully slid the soft dough into the pan anyway. I poured in the filling, slid the pie into the oven and returned to the episode of Gilmore Girls that was on pause in the living room.
When the timer eventually went off, I headed back into the kitchen to check on the pie and discovered a baking disaster! Apparently, I forgot to press the piecrust into the pan, and hot air had worked its way under the crust. The crust had ballooned in the middle, which forced all that sugary-sweet filling to seep up and under the crust. I now had an inverted pecan pie where the crust and pecans were on top, and the sticky filling was on the bottom—still delicious but not very pretty to look at.
Slightly bummed out and hungry, I decided to burry my baking sorrows in forkfuls of pecan pie. The remaining slices went to work with me the next day for the rest of the staff to enjoy. I’ll have to make another pecan pie this weekend and use the 9-inch pie pan the recipe calls for.
Mom's Pecan Pie
For the Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
½ cup liquid made up of 1 egg and 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar and the rest water
1. Combine the flour and salt.
2. Cut in the shortening until the dough looks crumbly
3. Add the liquid, and stir until combined. Be careful not to handle the dough too much.
4. Form the dough into a ball. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 9-inch pie crust. (This recipe makes 2½ piecrusts, so divide the dough in half before forming the ball.)
For the Filling
2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup pecan halves
1 single pie crust
1. Blend the eggs, sugar, salt, butter and corn syrup. Stir in the pecans.
2. Before you pour the filling into the pie crust, be sure to gently pat the pie crust into the pie pan. (Make sure the crust is pressed into the corners of the pan.)
3. Pour in the filling.
4. Bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes.