I recently changed up my go to pie dough recipe. I had been using Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter Pie Dough, but it had stopped being flaky and wonderful, often ending up tough and doughy. Pie dough is fairly easy to make, but it does take time and therefore forethought–which I often lack. Perhaps I got too lazy measuring the ice water, perhaps I wasn’t resting the dough in the fridge long enough. Whatever happened, my pies had been lackluster.
I tried Joy the Baker’s Buttermilk Dough a few pies ago and I’m hooked. The switch may have coincided with a sudden influx of time (no longer working two jobs and having to be on campus only twice a week has provided me with time in spades) so perhaps substituting buttermilk for water isn’t the only factor going into my improved crusts.
But who has time for buttermilk? Not even me. They never sell that stuff in containers small enough, and there’s always a carton of it sitting in my fridge for weeks after I’ve used a bit of it for something.
Instead, I make my own buttermilk by adding lemon juice to whole milk. The acid in the lemon curdles and thickens the milk appropriately. You can even do it with soy milk for vegan options when needed.
Anyway I made JTB’s Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie last week, and it was wonderful.
Here’s my slightly modified version of her recipe:
For the Crust:
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold buttermilk (or make your own! The ratio is 1 tsp lemon juice/white vinegar to 1 cup milk. I’m not that precise. For this recipe I measured out almost 1/3 cup of milk, and squeezed half a lemon into it. I give it a stir, and put it in the fridge until I need it while I work on the dough.)
For the Filling:
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup (I only had light corn syrup, and while I’m sure dark syrup would be richer, the pie was plenty rich without it. I also substituted half the white sugar for brown to compensate.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 ½ heaping cups roughly chopped pecans (Joy calls for a single heaping cup, but I like a lot of pecans.)
¼ cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the buttermilk first, and keep it cold in the fridge while you work on the rest of the dough. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, and salt.) Make sure your butter is cold, and cut it into little cubes. Work the butter into the dry mixture with your fingers. The butter should be roughly pea sized, but don’t work it too much. Add your buttermilk and use a fork or a spoon to bring it together. Work the dough with your hands, kneading it gently, then pat it into a disk and wrap it in cling film to rest in the fridge for an hour. I cheated. I rolled out the dough and lined my pie tin, then stuck it in the freezer while I made my filling. I’m sure this method doesn’t properly redistribute the moisture, but does let the butter chill and solidify again.
Make the filling by whisking everything together! Both sugars, corn syrup, salt, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, and melted butter.
Chop your pecans and chocolate, but not too much. Put those guys in your chilled pie shell, and pour the liquid over them. The pecans will slowly rise to the top, covered in delicious delicious bourbony sugar and crisp up beautifully in the oven.
Put you pie on a baking sheet to prevent any errant sugar goop from burning on the bottom of your oven. My pie dish is fairly shallow and the goop escaped over a low point in my crust. Luckily I caught it early on, and scraped the goop from the pan, then turned my pie around so it was tilted away from the low rim.
The pie will bake for 45 minutes to an hour.
The filling will rise a little, and when it’s done it will be a bit jiggly, but solid.
Allow the pie to cool somewhat before enjoying. You don’t want all the still molten sugar goop to seep into the space vacated by your slice! I love this cold for breakfast with a good cup of coffee.