In preparation for Thanksgiving, I’m showcasing some of my favorite holiday recipes this month. Some of them are family recipes while others are my own creations but each of them always has a place on my dining room table. This fall I had the opportunity to be profiled by Albanian Living magazine as a part of their “traditional American Thanksgiving” article. All of the recipes I’m sharing were a part of that Thanksgiving table.
For the longest time I avoided making pies since I struggled with the crusts. Mine were always tough and chewy and not tender and flakey the way good ones should be. I’ve learned that temperature and weather are vital to making a good crust. Humid weather and room temperature butter are a pie crust’s worst enemy since warmth and moisture make for a soggy crust. But autumn brings cooler and dryer weather so this is the perfect season for pie making. And by keeping the crust a simple concoction of flour and butter with just a bit of liquid, you are ensured a perfectly flaky crust.
This pie is a favorite from my youth. Growing up in New England, I don’t remember eating pecan pie at Thanksgiving, but no holiday table would have been complete without this walnut pie. The maple syrup makes this a truly New England dessert so be sure to use the best quality syrup you can find. And by no means should you substitute pancake syrup or another maple flavored syrup; the results will just not be the same. It comes from The Moosewood Cookbook and is a snap to make so be sure to include it on your holiday menu this year.
MAPLE WALNUT PIE
For the crust:
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cold buttermilk or water
- Using a pastry cutter, two forks, or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, cut together the butter and flour until the mixture is uniformly blended and resembles coarse cornmeal.
- In half tablespoon increments, add the buttermilk or water and stir, cut, or process until the dough just holds together. You might not need to use all of the liquid.
- Divide the dough in half and cover and set one half aside.
- Place the piece of dough between two sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Using a rolling pin roll and stretch the dough to fit the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.
- Carefully remove on piece of the paper and fit the dough into the pie plate. Press it into the edges making sure the crust continues up the side of the pie plate. Crimp the edges in a decorative design with a fork. Set aside.
For the pie:
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 Teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Beat together all of the ingredients except for the walnuts, until light and frothy.
- Spread the walnuts over the bottom of the reserved pie shell. Pour in the batter.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the custard is solid in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold with or without whipped cream.