Pecan pies are the quintessential pie of the South, wouldn’t you say? What says Southern hospitality more than a big ole slice of pie? A big ole slice of pecan pie that’s what! I’ve been baking homemade pecan pies for close to 30 years.
In the beginning, somewhere around September, I would start scouring my vast collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines from previous holidays (because it would be against every fiber in my being to ever throw one away) looking for the perfect pecan pie recipe. I’ve tried scores of different recipes, but, for the most part the ingredients for pecan pie are the same. Karo syrup. Brown sugar. White sugar. Vanilla. Pecans of course. So how could the same ingredients produce such varying degrees of perfection? I was stumped! My efforts seemed to always produce the same results. Runny filling, soggy bottoms and never enough pecans!
Then, about 25 years ago I ran across a pecan pie recipe in a cookbook called The Grass Roots Cookbook by Jean Anderson. I found the recipe for Trigg County Pecan Pie, it was submitted by Mrs. Jesse R. Watkins of Trigg County, Kentucky. It had basically the same ingredients as all of the other recipes I had tried, except for the addition of cream and no white sugar, all brown sugar. Hummm. I had never baked one that had cream in it. So I decided to give it a try. The first one I baked (why would I bake just one?) came out with a runny center. So I bumped up the cooking time on the second one to 1 hour. I let it cool thoroughly (that’s a must when making pecan pies), they have to be completely cool before slicing. Like, put it in the fridge over night cooled. When I sliced it, I think I do remember tearing up! My pie sliced perfectly. There were nuts throughout. The taste was perfect!
Now what made Mrs. Jesse R. Watkins Pecan Pie different from the other pecan pie recipes that I’d tried in the past? Was it the cream? Was it the all brown sugar? I honestly don’t know! If I had to guess, I would say it’s not so much the ingredients as the amounts for each ingredient. The amount of pecans used was perfect. Coarsely chopped pecans gave me slices with pecans throughout, not just on top, which by the way, makes slicing a whole lot easier. Trying to slice a pecan pie made with whole pecans? Not so fun! It has just the right amount of sweetness, was that from just using all brown sugar?
Now, if I could only learn to make a great pie crust… EVERYTIME! I have complete pie-crust-envy when I see photos of the perfectly rolled curst, cute little flutes and ruffles around the pie. Even the rustic looking crusts that use a simple fork to go around the edges look better than my futile attempts at the perfect pie crust.
I found a great recipe for pie crust HERE at Jessica’s How Sweet It Is site. Because I knew I’d be testing my pecan and pumpkin recipes, I made 6, doubling the recipe . The dough tasted great so that wasn’t the problem. It was super easy to put together, in a food processor no less. So ease wasn’t the problem. I’m sure it’s all me! Jessica, thought she had crust problems! I’m pretty sure she’d be mortified to see what I did to her perfect pie crust, like I said, it was user error.
I do believe I go brain dead when it goes to rolling out dough! How difficult could that be? It’s not. Not at all. It’s me. As you can see in the photos of my pecan pie, I rolled the crust out way too thin. Mostly because I didn’t take into account that my pie plate was a deep-dish and it actually measured 9 1/2 inches not 9 inches. I’ve got a few more dough disks in the fridge and I WILL make a great looking pie crust! One day. Not sure when. Maybe in another life. But I WILL!
Since I know that I have piecustaphobia, I always have a backup plan. Premade, store bought pie crust! Don’t judge! I trust Pillsbury! I trust Mrs. Smiths! They’ve been making pie dough longer than I’ve been alive.
I guess I try so hard at the perfect “looking” pie crust because I’d just like to say my pie is completely homemade.
In the end, does anyone really care what it looked like, as long as it tasted great… and I KNOW even with Mrs. Smith or Pillsbury bailing me out of pie crust failures, I will have an amazing pecan pie.