07 November 2019

Pumpkin Slab Pie - Perfect for a Party Dessert Bar

Pumpkin Slab Pie - Perfect for a Party Dessert Bar / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pumpkin pie is an autumn favorite, and for everyday purposes a regular 9-inch pie is great. But when you're serving lots of people, especially if there will be multiple desserts on offer, it's time for pumpkin slab pie.

Even if you're not doing a "dessert bar," chances are if it's a special occasion or you're having lots of people over, there will be two or three different kinds of pie and most people won't choose just one. You know the drill: "I'll take just a sliver of each." And those slivers are impossible to cut, so it turns into a big old mess.

Easy solution: slab pie. Made in a 13x9x1-inch quarter sheet pan, it can be cut neatly into squares or triangles as small as you like.

Pumpkin Slab Pie - Perfect for a Party Dessert Bar / www.delightfulrepast.com

The problem with most pumpkin pie recipes is that they attempt to address the issue of high temperature needed for the crust and low needed for the custard by starting high and turning it down, and the compromise doesn’t always succeed. The filling is overcooked and, well, soggy bottoms! For a pumpkin or any custard pie, I fully pre-bake the crust to avoid the soggy bottom problem.

When I'm being fancy, I cut off the edges of the pie and save those for snacks, cutting uniform "center cuts" to put on a pretty platter or tiered stand. For less formal occasions, serve directly from the pan, edges and all.

What are your favorite items for a dessert bar?

Pumpkin Slab Pie - Perfect for a Party Dessert Bar / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pumpkin Slab Pie 

(Makes one 13x9x1-inch pie, 12 to 16 servings)

The Pastry

1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon non-GMO baking powder
1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces/142 grams) unsalted butter, well chilled

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons ice water
Additional ice water, a teaspoon at a time, if needed

The Filling

2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar* 
1 tablespoon non-GMO cornstarch 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs 
1 15-ounce (425 grams) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk 

* I use just 1/4 cup when making it for just us.

1 In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. With coarse grater, grate about 3/4 stick of butter into flour bowl. Cut the remaining butter into 1/2-inch cubes. With fingers, quickly work the grated butter into the flour until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add the cubed butter and work it into the crumbs, leaving some pieces the size of small peas. 

2 In small bowl, combine vinegar and ice water. Sprinkle over flour mixture while stirring with large fork. Add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time, if needed. 

3 Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 5-inch round disk with smooth edges; double wrap; refrigerate for one hour or up to four days. May be frozen for up to a month; defrost, wrapped, in the refrigerator.

4 If dough is thoroughly chilled, let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling. Line a 13x9x1-inch quarter sheet pan with a piece of baking parchment. On lightly floured surface, roll out disk to a 16x12-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Place pastry in pan, being careful to not stretch the dough. Leave a 1/2-inch overhang of dough. Crimp the edge. (Sometimes you need to chill the pastry a bit before crimping.) Flute the edge higher than usual to contain the filling. Cover loosely and place in freezer for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. 

5 Fit the sheet of aluminum foil in the shell and fill with ceramic pie weights (baking beans). Bake the thoroughly chilled crust for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes.

Note: I use two boxes of the ceramic pie weights (which fit nicely into a 200-gram tea tin for storage) for a 9-inch pie or this quarter-sheet slab pie.

6 Remove fully pre-baked pie shell from the oven; let cool completely before filling, at least 30 minutes or hours ahead, whatever suits your schedule.

7 Once pie shell is cool, preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. In medium bowl (using a 2-quart glass measure makes it easy to pour the filling into the crust), whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and spices. Whisk in the eggs, then the pumpkin and then the milk and cream. 

8 Pour the filling into the cooled pie shell. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted midway between edge and center comes out clean or until it registers 185F/85C on an instant-read thermometer.

Note: After you've made pumpkin pie a few times, you can tell just by looking whether or not it's done. It will look darker and shinier and may have puffed up a bit and then fallen, and it should be fairly firm but still have a little jiggle left in the center.

9 Cool completely on wire rack for 2 hours, then lay a square of wax paper over the top and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serve with softly whipped cream. I sweetened and flavored 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 4 teaspoons of real maple syrup and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Note: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days.

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