Thursday, February 5, 2015

GUEST BLOG: Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie with a No Fail Sour Cream Crust!

The following is a guest recipe (a "guestipe, if you-never mind, it's gross) by my dear friend Samantha Veldhouse. Sam and I have done many Minnesota Fringe Festival productions together, wearing several different literal and figurative hats. We also both improvised in Six Ring Circus at the Brave New Workshop and therefore, shared multiple beers and pizza slices at the Green Mill. She's an actor, a fiancee, a cat mom and today... a baker.


A couple months ago, Emily suggested I write a guest post for her blog, and at the time I was all “OMG! This is a dream come true, but alas I’m in a bunch of theater crap right now and barely have time to whip up some mac and cheese let alone a majesty of cakes and cookies and then write a thing about it.”

But as with all things theater, they eventually end and you find yourself with gaping amounts of time to fill, and after a while it kind of freaks you out and you wonder if you’ll ever be cast in a show again, but in the meantime you’re going to make a pumpkin pie and document the process with your cats included.

I found a giant can of pumpkin on clearance at Target a few weeks ago because pumpkin flavored things are only allowed in the months of October, November and mayyyybe December. February is not where it’s at when it comes to gourds so I got me a deal on 29 ounces of Libby’s 100% pumpkin, and let me tell you it was a steal at $1.95 (that’s a mere 6 cents per ounce). I decided to try the recipe on the back of the can because the women in my family don’t bake and therefore don’t have a lineage of recipes for me to swear by, so I’m left to my own devices. Also, it’s famous...

Was 9 cents an ounce. A steal, I say.
Keep in mind this recipe yields two of these bad boys, so be prepared with either a pie-hungry family of 16 or a calculator so you can cut this sucker in half.

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie (yields 2 pies!):
1 ½ cups sugar
1tsp salt
2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
½tsp ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 29 oz. can of pure pumpkin
2 12 oz. cans of evaporated milk
2 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shells, which brings me to…

Oh hell no I’m not buying pie dough. Pie dough is, like, the easiest thing to make when it comes to baking. It is also the messiest, but I’m not keeping score of its pros and cons. Even though I’ve never actually made a pie, I’ve made literally (yes literally) tons of pie dough as I used to work at a mass production bakery when I was a jaded teenager, which for the record is not the best time in your life to have to wear a hair net every day. 

With that, I found this pretty great recipe for pie dough online that includes butter (this isn’t WWII so let’s use butter), flour, and get this, sour cream. I had to try it for this reason and also because the words “No Fail” were in the title. Keep in mind that this recipe, like the one above, also makes two of the thing it tells you how to make. Sure some pies call for two crusts, but pumpkin pie is not one of those pies because it is a badass seasonal pie, so you can either use the second crust for the second pumpkin pie you’re making, or for something else that's not in season, like fruit pizza. Or just math it up and cut the recipe in half.

No Fail Sour Cream Pastry Crust (yields 2 crusts)
2 cups flour
2 tsp sugar (only add if you’re making something sweet like a pie, which you are)
2 sticks softened butter (if unsalted, throw in 1 tsp of salt to make it taste not gross)
½ cup sour cream (full fat because consistency is key, and this isn’t a health blog)

I started with the crust since it needs some time to chill out (again, literally). Since pie dough is literally flour and fat, it’s pretty straightforward, but in case you’ve never baked a thing, start by blending your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) in a large mixing bowl. I used the largest of my fiancĂ© Joe’s impressive set:

Pro tip: Don’t use the tiny one for making a pie crust.
Set your sugar flour blend aside and go ahead and cube up some of that softened butter you remembered to set out at room temperature. Once cubed, throw it in with the sugar flour, remove any and all jewelry, and use your squeaky clean hands to gently massage the butter into the flour. If it gets sensual, you know it’s right.

Not as hot as it's about to get, but you get the idea.
Add half a cup of sour cream to the mixture and use your buttery, floury hands to mix everything together. There is going to be a point where you think you've made a horrible mistake, but just remind yourself that pie dough is the easiest thing to make. Commit and breathe and soon you will end up with this:

It was an unwieldy journey, but it was worth it. 
Cut this ball in half, wrap both halves in plastic wrap, and place it to chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge next to all your questionable citrus fruit and that seafood salad you got at Lunds for half price because it was labeled as coleslaw.

Pro tip: get a kitten from your local animal shelter to adorably play with grocery bags when you’re done with them.
 Now on to the part of this recipe that makes a boring old crust into a pie.

Again, you’re going to want to start with the dry ingredients because baking.  Mix together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a medium-sized mixing bowl. I didn't think to buy cloves at the grocery store because I assumed my culinary-expert fiance would have some on hand. He didn't. But he did have an actual spice called “pumpkin pie spice” lying around. Feel free to experiment with your fall flavor tones to find the autumnal zest of your choice.

Not make up. 
In a separate, large bowl (like, the biggest bowl you have), beat the eggs to an eggy pulp. Add the pumpkin, and the sugar and fall flavor tones your genius palette coordinated. Stir in the evaporated milk and mix everything together in all of its burnt orange glory. Note that I halved this recipe, and my biggest mixing bowl barely fit all of these ingredients, so plan accordingly. Libby likes her pumpkin pie and will make certain there is no shortage of it.

Pro tip: Get an older, more vocal cat from your local animal shelter and have it sit on top of your fridge to meow critiques at you as you combine these ingredients.
Remember that pie dough? Through the magic of multitasking, it is now chilled enough to where you can roll it out into a crust. Accept the fact that this is the messiest thing ever, and liberally sprinkle flour on your counter top in the name of gay marriage and Obamacare. Next dust off your rolling pin (I literally had to do this) and roll the dough out thinner than you think you need it to be. My crust ended up being a little too thick and therefore a tad doughy, which was fine because crust recipe doesn't fail, but I guess texture is important too. Once rolled to your desired thick(thin)ness, fold the dough into quarters and place it into the super swanky pie tin you bought for 50 cents. Unfold, and voila! Pie crust in a pan! 
Ah the magic of folding.
Here's where it's easy to make rash and uncalculated decisions for the sake of making everything look like a pie. I made the mistake of pouring the filling into the crust before trimming it. I only realized this as I painstakingly turned the filled pie tin to trim and pinch the edges while sloshing around delicious pumpkin magic. It was the closest I've been to a baking disaster in a long time.

Pro tip: don't do this.
Despite my mistake, patience and determination allowed me to trim and fold the edges over in such a way as to where it actually did start looking like a pie. I have no idea how to describe how to pinch the edges of a pie crust effectively, but I can tell you there's about seventy different ways to do it. I opted for the fold-over method I perfected as a child whilst playing with play-doh. 

That. Just do...that.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then pull a fast one by turning your oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes. A toothpick pierced through the perfect, smooth, and beautiful surface should come out clean once it's done. You'll notice that the pie has risen during its time in the oven. Don't fret. It will deflate once it starts cooling off and no, I'm not going to make a deflate-gate joke here. 
Harder to grip, but only because it's straight out of the oven.
Place your precious, precious pie on a cooling rack out of reach from the adorable yet ravenous kitten you adopted from your local animal shelter. I opted for replacing the vocal adult cat meowing criticisms at me on the fridge with the pie:

Pro tip: Maybe don't get a kitten unless you want all your food to be eaten behind your back.
Once the pie is cool (after 2 hours or so), you can either eat the entire thing because it's delicious, or you can refrigerate it and save it for later. I was amazed as to how perfectly it came out, and all I did was follow directions! This means that if you can follow directions, you can make a really good pumpkin pie too thanks to Libby and her bargain cans of gourd. And if you decided to include the part where you adopt cats from your local animal shelter, you can feed them any left over pumpkin you may have because they love it.

"I love this."


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