A Hard Day's Work: Pecan pie

I’m back at school.  My room is double the square footage of last year’s 87-square-foot closet.   The kitchen is in the same building, which is convenient.  The oven in this kitchen does not have a timer.  Tell me that’s not a safety hazard in a dorm of absent-minded undergraduates.  Go on, tell me people are responsible.

Cynicism as a side dish, here’s a recipe I made last week at home.  My dad took my car to get fixed (long story), and so I made his favourite dessert to say thanks, pecan pie.  I am enormously proud of my pies that I’ve veganized and gluten-free-ized, and thus I was happy to add another notch to my fuselage with this recipe.  I shouldn’t take too much credit, though, lest I become conceited and forget that I found this recipe in a cookbook.  The flour substitution is the only factor I changed.  This is Yankee pecan pie because it uses maple syrup instead of corn syrup in the filling.

 Picture of the finished product, so as to encourage you that, yes, it exists!  It existed, anyway.

Pecan Pie (modified from Robertson, Robin.  1,000 Vegan Recipes.  462-3.)
Makes 1 9-inch pie.

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unsalted pecan halves or pieces (or 1 cup pecans and 1 cup walnuts)

For the crust:  In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, salt, and sugar.  Use a pastry cutter, fork, or two butter knives to cut in the margarine until the mixture forms pea-sized clumps.  Add the water one tablespoon at a time and blend thoroughly after each addition.  Stop mixing just as the dough comes together.  Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 30 minutes or even overnight. (I mean it.  Chill it.  It'll be fine if you don't chill it for exactly 30 minutes, but thirty minutes is the bare minimum.  In hot, humid New Jersey summer weather, that chilling time is important, even though I was at home in the sticks, and it's relatively cooler up north.  Doesn't matter.  Chill that sucker.)

Filling: After the crust has chilled for 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit while you make the filling.  In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and ¼ cup water and set aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ¾ cup water, maple syrup, and brown sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil for five minutes.  Then stir in the salt and cornstarch mixture.  Cook, stirring until the mixture thickens and becomes shiny and the bubbles break open on the surface.  Remove from heat and stir in the margarine and vanilla.  Once the margarine is melted, stir in the pecans (or other nuts).

Spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with nonstick spray.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured (with brown rice flour) work surface to about 10 inches in diameter.  Transfer the dough to the pie plate and neaten up the edges (if you’re Q, that means just making sure the edges are about even all the way around, nothing fancy).  Prick holes in the bottom of the dough with a fork (this is a serious step and should not be taken lightly.  Poke those holes!).  Bake until golden, about 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour the filling into the prebaked pie crust and spread evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes or until edge of crust is golden and filling is set and a little bit darker.  Cool on rack for 1 hour then chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.  Tastes extra nice with rice or soy whip.

Today as I was walking to the student lot to my car, a young man said, “Nice Dresden Codak t-shirt.”  He recognised my “I will do science to it” little Kim t-shirt from Codak’s comic Hob.

The above picture shows a little bit of gluten-caused rash, rashes which I kept getting as I detoxed from gluten.

Happy Autumnal Equinox!



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