apple and concord grape crumble pie

Happy Sunday everyone! Another week and another recipe from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person in the books. This week was bake number 36 and our second last one from the Pies and Tarts chapter. We bring you Claire’s Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie.

Lauren’s Take

Hi again friends! Can you believe we’ve hit over 2000 followers on our Instagram this week?! Just two simple girls and a cookbook—who knew! Very happy to have everyone here! This week we went back a tad to return to one we had skipped previously—Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie! An interesting concept for a pie if you ask me… many components and flavours that I wouldn’t normally consider to put together.

The main challenge this time was finding Concord grapes. Fortunately, it seemed that almost every other lawn in Ottawa had a vine filled with grapes; unfortunately, stealing is illegal. Julia was visiting Ottawa last weekend and we went to a local market that had baskets and baskets of beautiful Concord grapes! My grandma used to have some in her garden and I hadn’t tasted them since I was a kid, so the flavour brought back lots of happy memories.

The actual assembly of this pie was not too complicated but a tad time consuming to prep the fruit as outlined in the book. You need to make and parbake the all-butter pie crust and the crumble. I used the buckwheat variation as recommended in the book (tip for any Canadian bakers, Bulk Barn is your stop for all your buckwheat needs). My pie was still flaky and delicious by man oh man did it sink significantly. The only reason I can find for this was the extreme humidity I was living in all week. Luckily this pie had the crumble topping, so it didn’t matter too much that the sides of my pie crust were virtually nonexistent.

Once your crust is parbaked, you create the filling. The first aspect of the filling is the thin apple slices mixed with cinnamon, lemon juice, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Make sure all the apples are coated evenly and then let this mixture sit in order to let the apples absorb the flavours.

Then you make the Concord grape mixture. For this part, you have to peel each Concord grape, saving the peeled skins for later. I thought this was going to be more time-consuming then it was—and don’t get me wrong, it was still totally tedious, but didn’t take as long as I thought. And I know you may want to skip this part, but you really shouldn’t if you want to get a good amount of Concord grape flavour.

You put all of the grape flesh into a sauce pan and simmer, breaking down the grapes. You then strain this mixture into a bowl with your reserved skins and sugar. You also add any juice that has collected in your bowl with the apple slices. Then this whole mixture goes back on the stove to reduce down. Once it’s gotten thicker and more syrupy, you remove from heat and combine 3 tablespoons of the mixture with cornstarch in a separate bowl. This makes this beautifully coloured and extremely thick slurry, which you add back into the saucepan with everything else to thicken your grape mixture even further.

This completed grape mixture gets poured over the apples and everything is mixed together to make your filling. Then it’s easy: filling goes into the pie crust, crumble goes on top of the filling, and the pie goes into the oven. Really make sure to pack down your crumble topping so it becomes more of a layer of the pie rather than just a sparse crumble on top.

 

 

The pie bakes first for 30 minutes with foil on top, and then another 40-50 minutes without the foil on to brown the crumble. In total, I needed to bake mine for about an hour and a half to get the mixture bubbling and the crumble browned.

So this a definitely a hefty pie; cutting a slice is no small feat because there are just tons of layers. But the cross section of this pie is beautiful! Such a bright, pink-y colour, and the layer of apple slices is so aesthetically pleasing. And the taste? This pie is a masterclass in texture for sure. You get the crunch of the crumble mixed in with the softness of the filling, and then the crispness of the apple comes in with the flakiness of the pastry. It really hits every note. And the balance of the tartness of grapes with the sweetness of the apples is also delicious. Definitely an excellent pie! 4 stars from this baker!

Julia’s Take

It felt like it had been aaaaages since I’d done a bake from the book when I went to go make this pie. I’d made the Blueberry Slab Pie over two weeks ago, purposely making it at the very start of the week since I was going to be heading out of town to see friends, only for us to then skip a post that weekend due to hectic schedules. Cue two more weeks going by after that before I finally got into the kitchen yesterday morning and brought out my copy of Dessert Person. It was a gloomy Saturday after a long night the night before—the perfect day to make a pie in my opinion!

Lauren and I had skipped this recipe a few weeks back since Concord grapes weren’t in season yet so I was glad to circle back to it now as we approach the end of this second chapter. I can’t remember if we mentioned it in last week’s post, but we were actually together in Ottawa last weekend; knowing that Concord grapes may be a little tricky to find here in North Bay, we figured it was a great opportunity to check out some of the markets and see what we could track down. Luckily, one of the produce stands had a TON of them so we picked up a basket each and I brought them back to North Bay with me to put them to good use. I actually have a bunch leftover after making this recipe, so it may be time to make some jam! Our grandmother grew Concord grapes in her garden, and our mom always made the most delicious jam with them every summer. It’s one of those quintessential childhood flavours that will always stand out in my mind. Like Lauren mentioned, I don’t think I’ve had this variety of grape since the days of hanging out in her backyard, and all those memories definitely came flooding back with the taste.

This was not a difficult recipe, and yet somehow it still took me literally ALL DAY to make this pie. I started off with another round of the Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough, with I think I’ve made more than a handful of times now this summer and can now make without having to look at the book. While the dough sat in the fridge for 2 hours, I started prepping the elements of the filling. I peeled, cored, and sliced my apples which then get mixed with a blend of flavourings (the classic combo of brown sugar, lemon, cinnamon, vanilla, salt) and sit aside to release juices. Then it was on to the grapes. I fully intended to skip the step of peeling each individual grape, because it seemed ludicrous to me, but after talking to Lauren—who had made the pie a few days before me—and hearing that it actually wasn’t that difficult, I decided I better not doubt Claire’s method and went for it. It is definitely time-consuming, but not as painful a process as expected. It sounds like the combination of flesh, juices, and skins is the best way to get the most out of that concord flavour, and separating/re-mixing rather than straining parts of the grape out is the best way to accomplish this. Who am I to question Claire?!

The grape flesh/juice cooks down for a while, is then strained out to remove the seeds, and then combined with the reserved skins and some sugar. This then returns to the stove and cooks down further. I thought it was strange to add skins back in to the fruit, thinking they really wouldn’t break down much and you’d be left with an odd texture, but it really does somehow blend together nicely into a beautiful looking, deep purple, jammy looking mixture. Once it’s reduced and nice and thick, some of the grape mixture is combined with cornstarch to make a very thick slurry-type substance, which is added back to the grapes to thicken the whole thing up even more. This ultimately will help your filling set nicely.

By this point, my pie dough was ready, so I took it out of the fridge, rolled it out, did the recommended fold for extra flakiness, and put it back in the fridge for half an hour to rest. This little window of time was when I prepped my crumble topping (told you there were a lot of steps and that it literally took me all day…). Claire recommends the buckwheat variation of her All-Purpose Crumble Topping recipe so I decided to go with that, figuring that the earthier flavour of the buckwheat flour would be pairing really well with the fruit. The crumble sat in the fridge while I moved on to prepping and parbaking my pie dough.

My crust parbaking and cooling was the perfect opportunity for a quick kitchen clean-up and a shower (I’d been in the kitchen for close to 4 hours by this point…). After I got out of the shower, my crust was ready to be filled. The grape mixture is combined with the reserved apple slices until everything is fully coated; I loved the vibrant pink-ish purple-ish colour that this all turns into thanks to those concord grape skins! It’s easy breezy from here: fill your crust with the filling, top with your crumble (make sure it’s really packed down well), cover with foil and bake (30 minutes with the foil and then another 45 or so without until everything is brown and crisp). The pie then sits at room temperature for 2 hours to cool and set.

I had a friend over for dinner that night (a go-to taste tester throughout this baking project), so she was over when the pie was ready to slice into. It was fun getting to try a bake for the first time with someone else and get those immediate reactions. We both really loved this recipe! The pie dough turned out perfectly flaky—the first few times I made this dough, I added too much water, making the crust too tough to cut through, but I have definitely mastered it now! The colour and layers of the filling were so pretty and the balance of flavours was amazing—who knew apple and grape could taste so good together?! And the earthiness and texture of the crumble on top was perfect. What an amazingly balanced and delicious pie. It’s a 4-star bake for me!

Next week, we wrap up the Pies & Tarts chapter with the long-awaited Peach Melba Tart!

blueberry slab pie

We’re back after taking a week off with our 35th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. This latest recipe from the Pies and Tarts chapter is the epic Blueberry Slab Pie.

Lauren’s Take

Hello and happy weekend everyone! Despite the intense heat and humidity in the air right now, there is also that quintessential August feeling of the summer being almost over. And with that, the end of fresh fruit and warm days, so it was nice to be able to bake a very summer-y dessert to commemorate that! And what says end of summer like a nice slice of blueberry pie?

This pie is a beast. When you first glance at the recipe, it doesn’t seem to be that big of a task but then there are a few hints that really allude to the monstrosity… namely that it “feeds 24” and the casual “1.6kg of blueberries” listed in the ingredients. I mean, 1.6kg?! Just wild. I was really praying that this bake would turn out because I would have to give a lot away and wanted it to be worth people’s while. Initially, I was a bit nervous because Claire classifies this bake with a difficulty level of 4, but in all honesty, it truly isn’t that difficult. The hardest part is ensuring you have a large enough work space to roll out these monster pieces of dough, but otherwise, it was fairly simple to put together (as long as you can find 1.6kg of blueberries—clearly I’m still not over that).

The first part of the bake is to make two batches of the pie dough. The dough for this recipe is essentially the same as her other pie dough recipe, just a lot more of it and A LOT of butter. You think 1.6kg of blueberries is a lot, well try 6 sticks of butter…which is what this recipe calls for. You combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter together in a food processor and then slowly add water and mix with a fork/by hand until the dough holds together. This step is repeated twice (because even a large food processor can’t handle this much dough at once!), and then you are left with two large pieces of dough, which are wrapped and chilled in the fridge for at least two hours.

Once the pie dough has chilled, the real fun of rolling begins. No word of a lie, I had my ruler out and was meticulously measuring to make sure I got these pieces of dough to the appropriate size! One piece of dough you roll out to about 18 by 15 inches and cut it into 1.5inch wide strips that are about 15 inches long. I got about 12-13 strips from my dough. Once the strips are cut, you place them back in the fridge to keep chilled. Then you roll out the other piece of dough, which will be for the bottom of the slab pie. This piece is rolled even larger, I believe I did it to about 21 by 16 inches or so. You then carefully place it in your sheet pan, which should be 18 by 13 inches, leaving an inch or so of the dough overhanging.

The oven needs to be pre-heated to 425 degrees, and Claire recommends baking this pie on the lowest rack in the oven. I lined my oven rack with aluminum foil as suggested in the book to prevent any burning from spillage while baking. A tip that Claire gives is to put ANOTHER 18 by 13 pan in the oven while it is pre-heating, and then places your sheet pan with the pie INSIDE the sheet pan in the oven. Now, I do believe this is a great tip, but lord knows it was hard enough for me to find one massive sheet pan, never mind two! So I just baked my pie directly on the oven rack and it worked out fine! No soggy bottoms here friends.

After the pie dough is rolled out, you mix your filling, which was very simple. In a LARGE bowl (and it needs to be large because, remember, you got pounds on pounds of blueberries), you mix your berries with sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and the spices. In this recipe, Claire uses cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. I was intrigued by this blend, since it is very much gives me a pumpkin-pie vibe, but I followed the recipe.

You pour the filling into the sheet pan and even it out all over. Then you brush the overhang of the pie dough with egg wash, and press your chilled strips of pie dough across the filling and into the border. Claire describes placing them on a diagonal in a zig-zag pattern, but you could really do whatever you want, as long as it’s covered. I made sure to place the strips fairly close together but still had spots where you could see the filling pop through. I did end up having two strips left over as well. Once the strips are placed and pressed, you cut off the extra dough and fold the overhang back overtop and press down again. Then the whole pie is brushed with egg wash and covered with Demerara sugar (I was generous here, but not as generous as Julia usually is with Demerara sugar 😉). Then, you bake! One of the hardest parts of this bake was lifting this beast into the oven, so take your time and be careful!

The pie bakes on 425 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, and then the oven is reduced to 375 degrees for the remainder. I baked the pie for another hour and 35 minutes after turning the oven down to ensure a nice golden crust and bubbly filling. I didn’t end up having any spillage in the oven from the filling which was nice. The crust baked beautifully and the design with the sugar on top made it beautiful to look at.

After letting it chill for an hour, it was time to cut into it and try it! I don’t love warm fruit pie, so initially I wasn’t a huge fan. The filling felt too soft and the spices made it taste like pumpkin pie which confused me. I did really love the pie dough, but overall wasn’t a huge fan. Then, the next day, I was getting praise about this pie from people I had given it to, so I decided to take another stab at it, and I liked it quite a bit more. The filling is more set, the spices don’t seem as overpowering, and overall, it feels well balanced and flavoured. I’m still not 100% sure I agree with the spice combo here…I think maybe just cinnamon and cardamon would have been a better choice, without adding the ginger. I also think you could add more lemon funnily enough, since I find Claire is usually too heavy-handed with the citrus, but I think when you’re making a pie large enough to feed a small village, you can be a bit freer with flavour.

So overall, not my favourite pie, but it does get better with age for sure. Definitely a really nice recipe to have if you need to bake something for a large gathering. And the pie dough is never a disappointment as per usual. 3.5 stars for me!

Julia’s Take

Welcome back everyone! It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks over here as I wrap up my summer holidays. Lots of social time and out-of-town visits means I’ve been spending very little time at home (a welcome change after pandemic lockdown life!) and very little time in my kitchen, so our Blueberry Slab Pie was put on the back-burner. But it feels good to be back in action—although I am definitely not ready to go back to work already.

This recipe was HEFTY and the amount of ingredients it called for was no joke. So many cups of flour. So many pounds of blueberries. The six sticks of butter especially left me shaken. SIX STICKS! I was surprised Claire listed this pie as a difficulty level four because other than the measuring out of ingredients (and the heavy lifting) it was actually a really simple recipe to put together. I had set aside an evening to bake this pie last week since I knew I would be out of town for the majority of the upcoming two weeks, and while I thought I’d budgeted out my time well, things didn’t exactly go according to plan. I started out by making my dough in the morning. The ingredients are exactly the same as the Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough that we all now know and love so well; the only difference was that—since there was so much of it for this recipe—it came together in two batches in the food processer (one batch for the bottom of the pie and one batch for the strips on top), and we skipped the folding step. Once I had my dough mixed up, I let them sit in the fridge for the rest of the day while I met a friend for lunch and did a bunch of running around.

By the time I got home around 4:00, my pie dough was ready and I could get started on the filling and assembly. I had promised my neighbour I’d go over for a quick glass of wine to wish her Happy Birthday. Little did I know I would not actually return home until 11:30. So when a girl gets home late and has had a few glasses of wine but a pie needs baking, she bakes the pie.

 

 

Luckily, there wasn’t too much work involved in finishing things up. My bottom layer of pie dough was rolled out and placed into the 18×13” pan; the filling came together with tons of blueberries (I used fresh ones which are in season in Ontario right now!), sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest, vanilla, and a spice combo of cinnamon, cardamom, and ground ginger. From my understanding, cardamom and ginger are NOT common in blueberry pie, but we all know our girl Claire LOVES her cardamom. Honestly, I’m sure some people are hit and miss on these flavours, but personally I thought it was such a unique and delicious spin and I really loved the smell of everything as it all came together.

The filling then gets poured into the bottom layer of dough. My top layer had been cut into 1” strips (not my neatest or most mathematically correct work, to be honest—see time stamp on when I started this pie and just imagine how alert I probably was…) but once I placed everything on top of the blueberries it looked fine. The slab pie ultimately has a bit of a rustic feel to it anyway, so this worked out in my favour. Note to self: don’t start croquembouche at 11:30pm after a few glasses of wine.

The whole thing probably came together in half an hour, so then the hardest part was really just trying to stay awake while the pie baked for almost two hours. Claire provides a couple of suggestions to help with the baking: first, cover the bottom oven rack with tin foil in case there’s spillage (I did do this, and my oven came out unscathed), and also put a second pan in the oven to preheat, which the pie can then sit in while it bakes to help with the crispiness of the bottom. I didn’t have a second 18×13” pan so I skipped this step and my results were still fantastic! I almost fell asleep several times, but by 1:30am I had a beautiful, bubbly, crispy blueberry pie sprinkled with demerara sugar (my new favourite thing. See: Sour Cherry Pie). My favourite part of this bake was definitely the smell of the spices that filled up the house; it was sort of like summer and fall coming together—kind of appropriate for end of August and almost-back-to-school/work vibes.

I gave away the majority of this pie: big pieces were dropped off to friends the next morning on my way out of town, and I also brought a WHOLE bunch of it to the friends I was staying with down in Southern Ontario. Everyone really loved the flavour. It wasn’t my favourite thing from this chapter; if I’d just had this pie on its own, I may have felt differently, but compared to some of the epic pies and tarts we’ve had over the last few weeks, this one felt just sort of “meh” to me. Similar to many of the loaves and single layer cakes we made, this pie did get a lot better as the temperature came down and it set a little more. Absolutely delicious, but not necessarily life-changing. It’s a 3.5 star bake from me!

Join us next week as we make the second-last recipe from the Pies and Tarts chapter—the much-anticipated Peach Melba Tart!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sour cherry pie

We’re back with the latest recipe from the Pies and Tarts chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person—the Sour Cherry Pie, our 33rd bake from the book and one that will always hold a special place in our hearts.

The Reunion Bake: A Double Take

This week was a special one folks—we are coming to you live from the SAME kitchen! (Our Mom and Dad’s kitchen to be exact…).

With some of the restrictions being lifted in Ontario and thanks to being double vaccinated (#shotgirlsummer), Lauren was able to come to North Bay for a long-anticipated family visit, which meant that sisters&saffitz could be in the same place for the first time ever! We both smiled from ear-to-ear when we put on our matching aprons and were able to cook in the same place, rather than just text each other constantly throughout the bake. It reminded us that the part of baking that is truly special is being able to experience it with others (cue the sappy music).

And what better way to celebrate a reunion than with a cherry pie? We both were excited about this bake: one, because we’d be able to do it together, but also because neither one of us had done a lattice crust before and we were keen to try.

 

 

 

Unfortunately, sour cherries were very elusive in North Bay and we weren’t able to find any, but we did manage to find some absolutely beautiful, fresh local cherries and decided to splurge and use those instead. And when we say splurge, we really went for it folks. No shame.

We made the pie doughs together the day before. The recipe calls for making a double recipe of the Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough, but indicates doing the almond flour variation. This variation simply involves substituting a small amount of all-purpose flour for almond flour. Lauren forgot to substitute when doing one batch of the pie dough, so we instead had one regular pie dough and one beautifully speckled dough made with almond flour. We decided that doing one of each would be cool both in terms of design but also for helping to balance out the almond flavour.

We also pitted the cherries the day before (shout out to Julia for the commitment to this task—there are still remnants of red juice left on her hands) and froze them as Claire recommends in the recipe. Freezing the cherries helps the pie dough to stay cold while assembling.

 

 

The next day, Julia came back to Mom and Dad’s, and we rolled out our pie doughs. We used the regular recipe for the base and cut the almond flour one into 1-inch strips to be used for the lattice crust. Both of us have become so accustomed to working through the recipes solo that we couldn’t believe how much easier and more efficient it was to tag-team on this one; while one tackled rolling out dough, the other would prep the filling. While one assembled the lattice, the other walked her through by reading the instructions from the book and providing visual cues. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: baking buddies—we can’t recommend them enough.

Once the doughs were prepped, the actual assembly of this pie was super simple. The frozen cherries were tossed with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, cardamom, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, and almond extract. Since we weren’t able to track down sour cherries, we cut down on the sugar slightly. The base dough is rolled out into a circle shape and laid into the pie plate; the filling is scooped in and pressed down firmly to eliminate as much air as possible; and then the strips of top-layer dough are assembled into a woven lattice pattern over the top.

This was the first lattice for both of us and it was actually really fun to put together; as usual, Claire’s visuals in the book were so easy to follow and made what could seem like a trickier process totally doable and straightforward. Once some of the excess dough is trimmed off, the sides are pulled up and pinched together, the edges are crimped, and the whole pie is brushed with egg wash and topped with demerara sugar. Claire said to be generous, and Julia absolutely took this instruction and ran with it!

The pie had to bake at 425 for about 20 minutes to get everything nice and crisped up, and then for another hour and a half or so at 350. We think our parents’ oven probably runs on the hotter side, because the outside edges started to brown up really quickly; we took the pie out after about 40 minutes and covered the edge with some tinfoil to prevent browning.

 

We tried to look for Claire’s visual cue of looking for bubbling at the center before taking it out, and let the pie sit at room temperature for a few hours as recommended.

 

 

 

Later that night, we cut into the pie to share with our parents and Lauren’s boyfriend. As Lauren sliced into it, the filling started to run out quite a bit so we think our impatience (and by “our” we mean mostly Julia’s in this case…) got the best of us with this one. We probably should have kept the pie in the oven a little bit longer, even though we were concerned about over-baking our crust, and the pie probably would have benefitted from another hour or so resting at room temperature.

Despite the filling not being quite as set as we could have liked, everyone was so happy with how this pie tasted! The crust was so incredibly flaky—maybe our best results so far with this recipe—and even the bottom stayed so firm and crispy.

The flavour of the filling was also amazing; it would have been great to get the tartness from the sour cherries, and this definitely ran a touch sweet, but the big, fresh cherries made for an incredible filling and there was just the right amount of almond which added that something special.

Most of all, the experience of being together again after so many months, getting to tackle a recipe together as a team, and sharing it with some of our family made this one of our favourite bakes to date. This pie is a 10/10 for process and a 4-star bake from both of us!

Next week, we’ll be back to our trademark side-by-side comparisons as we take on the Quince and Almond Tart!

caramelized honey pumpkin pie

We are back with our 25th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person as we continue moving through the Pies and Tarts chapter. How have we already made it to recipe number 25??! Our bake this week is extremely non-seasonal, but that’s just one of the pitfalls of stubbornly deciding to bake the whole book in order. On this lovely June day, we bring you Claire’s Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie!

Lauren’s Take

I’ve always had mixed emotions about pumpkin pie. As a purest and lover of traditions, I want to love pumpkin pie because it’s the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert. But every time it was offered to me after a delicious meal of turkey and stuffing (mad ups to my Mom for making the best stuffing ever), I would say yes and think I was excited, but then just be kind of disappointed? Once I got more into baking, I would ask my family if I could handle the Thanksgiving dessert, and would make pumpkin pie cheesecakes, pumpkin and cranberry pie…simply trying to retain the tradition but improve it. But it still felt wrong to me. I wanted to love pumpkin pie as much as I love fall and Thanksgiving stuffing (this is the most pathetic sob story and I apologize and will now move on).

All this to say, I felt a connection to Claire when in the intro to this recipe, she mentioned similar qualms with pumpkin pie and used this recipe as a chance to improve such a popular dessert. To balance out the typical sweetness of store-bought or traditional pumpkin pie recipes, Claire adds brown butter (um hello greatest thing in the world) and caramelized honey to deepen the flavours and add a nutty-ness to the pie. As soon as I read this I was on board and intrigued to see how this would change the pumpkin pie I have come to know and tolerate.

Every time we get to bake a pie and make pie dough, I feel more at ease than I usually am with these desserts. Pie is my favourite thing to bake and allows me to feel competent and not super sweaty and stressed the whole time (like I feel with every other bake we do). We got a chance to make Claire’s flaky pie dough recipe once again. I love how she combines cubes of butter with thin sheets of butter and how she encourages doing a letter fold before rolling out completely to achieve the flakiness. Genius. When I’ve made pie dough in my past, I usually refrigerate the dough in a circular mound which makes rolling it into a circle fairly simple; Claire on the other hand encourages you to refrigerate the dough in a thin square. Once I got ready to roll, I paused for a LONG time trying to figure out how to make this a circle. I called on my mathematically minded partner who yelled over some instructions that didn’t make sense so I just did my best and make a kind of circular thing? You then place your pie dough into your pie plate, press the dough firmly down to prevent shrinking and then crimp the sides. I really like Claire’s technique on how to do this (she even did a video of it on her YouTube channel). You use your thumb to create the intends which makes them larger than what I’ve typically done but I really like the shape it creates. The pie dough is covered then with aluminum foil and weighted down with pie weights. It bakes for about 25 minutes with the foil/weights on top, and then for another 20 minutes without to par-bake the crust. Claire warns for this step to lean on the side of over-baking the crust to a deeper golden brown because of the wet filling of this recipe. I found 20 minutes was perfect and I got such a beautiful golden colour and NO SHRINKAGE. I think this is my first time making pie ever where the dough did not shrink at all. Colour me impressed.

While the pie dough was cooling, I made the pumpkin pie filling. First you brown the butter and honestly nothing is more satisfying. I love watching butter brown and the smell once it’s done is so delicious. You add honey to the browned butter to stop the cooking process, mix them together, and then bring the mixture back to a boil to caramelize the honey. As it cooks, it releases such a beautiful, nutty flavour. You remove this from the stove, and slowly add in some heavy cream and set it aside. Then you make the custard base by whisking the eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin puree and spices. Once this is mixed, you whisk in your butter honey mixture, and voila, there’s your custard.

The mixture gets poured into the pie crust and then bakes in the oven until the sides are puffed and the centre wobbles. The time frame Claire gives is 45-60minutes, and I think I left mine in for about 65minutes or so because the centre still seemed too liquid until then. In order to prevent cracking, you left the pie fully cool in the oven before removing it. Now I made this pie right before I had to leave for a cottage weekend so I couldn’t let it FULLY cool in the oven, but even before removing it, it had already cracked. Thank goodness for whipped cream and its ability to hide mistakes.

This pie went on a journey. From the oven, my partner and I carefully placed it in our back seat and drove 2 hours with it to a cottage. Once we arrived, I softly whipped the cream and served it. First things first, this pie looks beautiful. The custard has such a deep, rich orange colour versus the artificial orange you get with some pumpkin pies, and the golden brown crust compliments it very well. Cutting the pie is also super satisfying as the knife easily goes through the custard and then faces some resistance to the flaky pie crust below. So 5 stars for aesthetics for sure. In terms of the taste, the pie crust was once again flaky, buttery and delicious.

Now for the custard…I will say, it was less sweet and less gummy then other pumpkin pies I have. The custard was super smooth and had just the right amount of sweetness. But I didn’t really feel like I got a huge sense of the brown butter and the honey, and I think that’s just because pumpkin and all the typical spices (nutmeg, ginger, cloves), are fairly overpowering flavours and kind of overtook everything else. If I made it again, I would maybe add a bit more honey, and put less of the spices in. This pie didn’t blow me away, but I will say that it was better than any other pumpkin pie that I’ve had. I’ll give it 4 stars!

Julia’s Take

Does anything scream summer more than a beautifully custardy, warm spice-filled pumpkin pie?! I am all for the argument that “pumpkin spice” flavoured things should be enjoyed all year long, but there was something about making this pie in 25-degree weather (that’s Celsius for all our confused American friends) in shorts and a t-shirt while the sun beamed in to my kitchen, looking out at my patio garden, that just felt off to me. Today also happens to be my 34th birthday (oy…) and while I do enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie with tons of whipped cream post-Turkey dinner, it is far from my favourite dessert, so wouldn’t have been my first choice of birthday week bake.

All that aside, the experience of baking this pie was pretty straightforward and a lot of fun. This recipe called once again for Claire’s Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough, which I previously dubbed the all-time best pie dough recipe ever when we made it for the Plum Galette a couple of weeks ago. I stand by that statement. I also noticed this time around that, with two rounds of pie dough and a round of Rough Puff under my belt, I am getting a lot quicker and more comfortable working with buttery doughs. I found I had to check the book less, doubted myself less, and just generally worked a lot faster to bring it all together. Win!

I made the dough and parbaked my crust the night before. Claire mentions in the recipe that if you’re using the crust for a custard-filled pie (like this one), you should err on baking longer until you get a deep golden brown to avoid the dreaded “soggy bottom.” Anyone who’s a fan of the Great British Bake-Off (or the equally delightful Canadian version, previously hosted by true Canadian legend and all-around adorable human Dan Levy) knows there is absolutely nothing more shameful than a soggy bottom. So I kept that crust in the oven a good 15-20 minutes longer than it called for in the book. I may have gone a bit far, but more on that later.

The next morning, I got to work on the custard filling. This was super simple to make. Adding that special flare that every Saffitz recipe seems to have, you start off browning butter (there is nothing better than brown butter) and then adding in honey and heavy cream to create what is basically a honey caramel. It smelled AMAZING – sweet, nutty, delicious. While that mixture sits, you whip together eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, and all the warm spices (your standard blend of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and the extra little twist of all-spice). Slowly stream the honey and brown butter caramel into the pumpkin mixture, and you have your custard. It gets poured into the cooled pie crust, and the whole thing bakes for about an hour. Similar to the Goat Cheese Cake, the pie needs to fully cool in the oven with the door slightly propped open so that the filling can properly set. I topped the pie with some freshly whipped cream and grated nutmeg.

The combination of the honey and brown butter caramel and the quantities of warm spices means that you end up with a filling that is so much richer not only in flavour but in colour as well. I was so pleasantly surprised to pull the pie out of the oven to see this deeply golden, almost amber brown instead of the brighter orange colour you’re used to seeing for a pumpkin pie. There was also so much more depth of flavour—not straight up “pumpkin” or “sweet” but something that definitely still read as fall vibes while also being nuttier, slightly caramel-y, and perfectly balanced. The custard was so smooth and rich in the best way.

Back to that pie crust: I think I definitely took it a tad too far in the parbake. While I did avoid the soggy bottom (yay) I did find it a bit tough to cut through. There’s crispy, and then there’s just straight-up rock solid. I do think, though, that less time in the oven would have absolutely meant soggy pie, so I don’t know which is worse. It’s a difficult balance to achieve and I haven’t quite mastered it yet.

It’s no surprise that this is one of the best pumpkin pies I’ve had. It wouldn’t be the first thing I go to grab (especially after last week’s epic Apple Tart), but if I had to choose between this and other pumpkin pie recipes, I’d choose this one every time. After trying a slice, I put the rest in the freezer because something about passing around pieces of pumpkin pie to friends and family in June felt bizarre to me, so I’m hoping it will hold up well for Thanksgiving. Will report back. I give this bake 4 stars!

Next week, we’ll be making the Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie. See you then!