Phoenix chefs share their tips for making the perfect pumpkin pie – Phoenix New Times | Team Cansler

Turkey may be the official star of the Thanksgiving table, but when it comes down to it, everyone manages to save room for the finale: a slice of pumpkin pie.

It’s such a hallmark of the holiday that the cake has spawned its own spice blend that’s finding its way into muffins, cupcakes, and of course, lattes. There’s nothing wrong with going to your favorite bakery to get the sweet end of the meal. Still, there’s something about a homemade version that evokes culinary comfort and nostalgia.

If you’re going down that route and could use some guidance, three Valley chefs are here to share their secrets to a classic pumpkin pie.

It’s all about the crust

Whether you decide to use pre-made dough or take on the task of making it from scratch, the crust deserves to be tackled first. Adrian De Leon, Tarbell’s culinary director and dessert creator, prefers to make his own cake to be in control of the cake from start to finish. However, an uncooked, store-bought, frozen, or refrigerated variety has its advantages, especially for newbies.

“Premades are good for consistency. You will always be the same. It depends on what people like and how much time they have to put into the cake, but I certainly don’t have anything against them,” says De Leon.

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Partially baking the crust before filling and using an electric mixer to whisk the filling are among the steps SugarJam, Southern Kitchen founder Dana Dumas, takes when preparing her pumpkin pies like these.

SugarJam, the southern kitchen

For both versions, De Leon suggests piercing the raw dough into the pie shell and pre-baking it before filling to ensure everything is cooked through.

“If you don’t partially bake your crust and pour filling on top, it won’t fully cook and it will end up mushy rather than flaky,” he says.

For recipes from scratch, he recommends working with the dough as cold as possible by storing it in the fridge until you’re ready to roll it out. This helps ensure the end result is as flaky as possible, he says.

Dana Dumas, founder of SugarJam The Southern Kitchen, agrees that temperature is key. In addition to using very cold unsalted butter and shortening and chilled flour, she places a bowl of ice water on the counter and dips her hands in it as she works.

“Butter can melt very quickly, making the dough softer and very gluten-free. I cool my hands so I don’t heat them up,” says Dumas. “You want to work with it very quickly and pour it into the cake pan.”

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Dana Dumas, owner of SugarJam The Southern Kitchen.

Melissa Fosom

fill in facts

Regarding the filling, Dumas notes that home cooks often don’t whisk the mixture enough, leaving it in a thicker, pureed form. But thinner is better, she says.

“If it’s the first time, they don’t know how runny the filling will be. But it’s not a mistake. It’s supposed to work that way, especially with a pumpkin pie,” says Dumas.

Dumas recommends using either a hand mixer or a large Kitchen Aid-style electric mixer to create the agitation needed for a good filling, rather than beating by hand.

When seasoning, it can be difficult to achieve a good balance. Some are in season, unaware that pumpkin needs a boost to taste like what we’ve all come to love as traditional pumpkin pie. Or they go overboard.

Tarbell’s dessert expert De Leon says the key to finding the perfect balance is to taste the filling along the way, before it goes into the oven.

“Often people overuse the spices and put a lot of nutmeg in it. Those are very strong flavors,” De Leon says of the usual warming spices, which also include cinnamon and clove. “Just make sure you try it. You can always add something, but you can never take it out.”

In addition to various crust options and spice mixes, you can also choose the type of squash in your pie. You can use canned pumpkin puree or roast, peel, and deseed your own pumpkin, then puree in the food processor. If you go the canning route, make sure it’s pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which is made with other spices and seasonings, some of which you may not need. Easy pumpkin puree puts the flavor options back in the chef’s hands.

When frying fresh ingredients, Dumas prefers sugar pumpkins for her family’s cakes. De Leon likes to add other members of the squash family to the mix, like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or yams.

“It’s still going to be a pumpkin pie, but with a little more complexity in flavor and texture,” says De Leon.

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The Vegan Taste delivers pre-packaged meals on a weekly basis.

Niki D’Andrea

cake for everyone

Fancy a vegan version? Jason Wyrick, Executive Chef at The Vegan Taste, offers easy plant-based alternatives to the recipe of your choice to delight the diners at your table. And it starts with a surprising secret: silken tofu. Unlike the water-packed style, this one comes packaged in a box and its super-soft texture mimics that of an egg-based filling.

“Purease with maple syrup, spices and pumpkin puree. The tofu acts like a pudding,” says Wyrick.

For those planning to make their own crust from scratch, substitute good quality plant-based butter or shortening. Wyrick recommends the Miyoko and Spectrum brands, stating that these can be used as a one-to-one ratio with dairy butter and traditional shortening. He also recommends chilling or trimming the butter beforehand.

While some of the plant-based ingredients are tasked with mimicking their dairy counterparts, Wyrick loves to take his pies up a notch, and so does the pumpkin rendition. He does this by adding a squirt of adobo sauce from a can of chilies in adobo.

“It complements the spices in the cake and adds a little pizzazz to your dessert,” he says.

Whichever route you choose, whether it’s a canned store-bought crust and filling or a one-of-a-kind tofu and chili pie, chefs agree it’s best to bake your pie ahead of time. Allow to cool and wrap tightly in plastic to prevent other flavors and flavors from getting into the cake, then pop in the fridge ready for the big day. Bottom line, don’t let the process intimidate you.

“Have fun, don’t be scared, and play with it,” says De Leon.

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