November: Lattice Topped Pumpkin Pie

    For this month’s lesson of our Better Baking Academy with Bob’s Red Mill, we delve into the science behind the ultimate tender and flaky piecrust. Finding the right piecrust recipe may seem daunting. The options appear endless, and the recipes can differ vastly or ever so slightly. In this recipe, we use Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour to achieve a consistently tender and flaky crust. Then we’ll take you through par-baking your crust, primed for a rich pumpkin custard filling. Plus, we have the tips and tricks for building a lattice that stays crisp over a luscious pumpkin custard, baking it separately and popping it on top right before serving. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures to create a perfect piecrust, and this lesson will bring you the success you’ve been searching for. After all, a good piecrust should be easy as, well, pie. 

    Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson, or keep scrolling to view our digital lesson.

    Before you get to baking, be sure to enter our Instagram giveaway to win a prize pack of baking essentials you’ll use in this lesson. The giveaway closes on November 30, 2020, so hurry to enter!

    INGREDIENT BREAKDOWN

    Great recipes require great ingredients. Here’s how each ingredient creates the ultimate tender and flaky piecrust.

    Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour: In pie dough, flour with high protein content leads to excess gluten formation, creating especially tough crusts. On the flipside, without enough protein, tenderness turns to demise, creating dough that is difficult to work with and crusts that fall apart and spread in the oven. Using Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour strikes the perfect protein balance. It has an intermediate amount of protein at 10% to 12%, which gives optimal structure to piecrusts while providing that tenderness bakers dream about. 

    Unsalted butter: The first pies were encased with just a pasty mixture of flour and water. Thankfully, along came butter, transforming the flour-water combo into something so flaky and tender that it drew an equal amount of importance as the filling itself. Because butter is key to the flakiness and rich flavor in this crust, choosing a European-style butter, which has a higher fat ratio than generic grocery store butter, will give the best results. Also, make sure your butter is very cold, straight from the fridge. As for unsalted versus salted—salt content can vary across different brands of butter, so we use unsalted butter, which allows us to add the exact amount of kosher salt desired. 

    Granulated sugar: Besides adding a lovely touch of sweetness, sugars react with amino acids in the flour during a heat-driven reaction that leads to browning. In scientific terms, it’s called the Maillard reaction, but we can think of it as the wonderful process that adds golden color and toasty flavor to piecrust. Piecrusts without sugar work out just fine for savory fillings, but they pale in comparison—literally. Sugar also inhibits gluten formation by tying up water molecules, leading to a more tender crust. 

    Kosher salt: Salt is the all-encompassing flavor booster, and piecrusts without salt tend to taste flat. Salt also plays its part in gluten formation by strengthening interactions between gluten molecules, giving the dough more structure. We like kosher salt because it is a pure, mined, additive-free salt that has a crisp, clean taste. Furthermore, it is flaked rather than granulated, which allows for more even distribution.

    Water: Two factors regarding water can make or break your pie dough: temperature and the amount used. Ice water keeps butter firm and prevents it from melting into the dough, which leads to flakiness. Tenderness comes from limiting the amount of water used to hydrate the dough. Because environmental factors like air humidity can cause dough hydration to vary, we hold back 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water, adding it only if necessary. An extra PRO TIP: if your tap water is chlorinated or contains minerals, filtered water can improve dough’s overall taste and texture. 

    Lattice Topped Pumpkin Pie 

    Topped with a golden, woven crust, our Lattice Pumpkin Pie is the ultimate symbol of those warm and cozy feelings of fall. The flaky, tender piecrust is made with Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour, which creates a dough that is easy to handle and provides the perfect texture. The lattice top is par-baked separately and added to the pie at the end of baking, creating the perfect combination of double flaky piecrust and pumpkin custard filling. 

    Lattice Topped Pumpkin Pie
     
    Makes 1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie
    Ingredients
    • Pie Dough (recipe follows)
    • 5 eggs (250 grams), room temperature and divided
    • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water
    • 2⅓ cups (569 grams) canned pumpkin
    • 1⅓ cups (320 grams) evaporated milk
    • ⅔ cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
    • ⅓ cup (73 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
    • ⅓ cup (76 grams) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1½ teaspoons (6 grams) vanilla extract
    • 3 tablespoons (24 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour
    • 1½ teaspoons (3 grams) ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground ginger
    • ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
    • ¾ teaspoon (1.5 grams) ground nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
    Instructions
    1. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of Pie Dough into a 13½-inch circle (3/16 inch thick). Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, pressing into bottom and up sides. Trim edges to ½ inch beyond edge of plate, if needed. Fold edges under, and roll down to edge of plate; using a fork dipped in flour, press edges flat. Freeze until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
    2. Using a fine-point permanent marker, draw a 10-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Mark 1 inch inside drawn circle at cardinal points*. Turn parchment over, and place on a baking sheet.
    3. On a lightly floured surface, roll remaining Pie Dough into a 14-inch circle (⅛ inch thick). Using a pastry wheel, cut 2 inches off one side of dough; set aside. Starting at cut edge, cut 12 (¾-inch-wide) strips; set aside any unused rolled-out Pie Dough. Place 6 strips horizontally ¾ inch apart on drawn circle, starting and ending at 1-inch marks. Fold back alternating strips, and place 1 strip vertically across horizontal strips; unfold strips. Repeat weaving with remaining strips, starting and ending at 1-inch marks and spacing strips ¾ inch apart. Using a pastry wheel, trim strips even with drawn circle.
    4. Using desired small decorative cutters, cut remaining rolled-out Pie Dough, rerolling scraps once. (You should have about 25 cutouts.) Place on baking sheet around lattice. Refrigerate until firm and ready to use, 20 to 30 minutes.
    5. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
    6. Lightly dock (prick) prepared crust with a fork. Top with a piece of foil, shiny side up, pressing excess under rim of plate. Add pie weights to fill three-fourths full.
    7. Bake until edges start to dry, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights, and bake until crust looks dry, about 10 minutes more. (Crust will not have color.) Let cool completely on a wire rack. Leave oven on.
    8. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg (50 grams) and 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water. Brush lattice with egg wash. Brush bottom of each cutout with egg wash, one at a time, and place around edge of lattice (on drawn circle), overlapping slightly. Brush tops of cutouts with egg wash.
    9. Bake until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).
    10. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugars, melted butter, vanilla, and remaining 4 eggs (200 grams) until smooth.
    11. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, and whisk until smooth. Pour into cooled prepared crust, and smooth flat with an offset spatula. Cover edges with foil.
    12. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil, and top with baked lattice. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175°F (79°C), about 15 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Lightly cover with foil, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

     
    Pie Dough
     
    Makes 1 (9-inch) double crust
    Ingredients
    • 4 cups (500 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour
    • ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
    • 1⅓ cups (303 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
    • 13 to 14 tablespoons (195 to 210 grams) ice water
    Instructions
    1. In the work bowl of a food processor, place flour, sugar, and salt; pulse until combined. Add cold butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and butter is pea-size. With processor running, add 13 tablespoons (195 grams) ice water in a slow, steady stream just until dough comes together; add remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) ice water, if needed. (Mixture may appear crumbly. It should be moist and hold together when pinched.) (Alternatively, in a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and butter is pea-size. Make a well in center, and add 13 tablespoons (195 grams) ice water; add remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) ice water, if needed. Stir with fingers, and knead dough together just until dry ingredients are moistened.)
    2. Turn out dough, and lightly knead to bring together. Divide in half (about 530 grams each). Shape each half into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough may be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

     

    Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

    Our simpler but no less fabulous traditional pumpkin pie is topped with pillowy whipped cream and decorative fall cutouts. A light dusting of cinnamon adds the perfect final touch, accentuating the flavors of the silky pumpkin custard filling.

    Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
     
    Makes 1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie
    Ingredients
    • Pie Dough (recipe proceeds)
    • 5 eggs (250 grams), room temperature and divided
    • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water
    • 2⅓ cups (569 grams) canned pumpkin
    • 1⅓ cups (320 grams) evaporated milk
    • ⅔ cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
    • ⅓ cup (73 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
    • ⅓ cup (76 grams) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1½ teaspoons (6 grams) vanilla extract
    • 3 tablespoons (24 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour
    • 1½ teaspoons (3 grams) ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground ginger
    • ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
    • ¾ teaspoon (1.5 grams) ground nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
    • Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
    • Garnish: ground cinnamon
    Instructions
    1. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of Pie Dough into a 13½-inch circle (3/16 inch thick). Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, pressing into bottom and up sides. Trim edges to ½ inch beyond edge of plate, if needed. Fold edges under, and roll down to edge of plate; crimp, if desired. Reserve any scraps for decorative cutouts. Freeze prepared crust until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
    2. On a lightly floured surface, roll remaining Pie Dough into a 14-inch circle (⅛ inch thick). Using desired small decorative cutters, cut dough, rerolling scraps once. Place cutouts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm and ready to use, 20 to 30 minutes.
    3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
    4. Lightly dock (prick) prepared crust with a fork. Top with a piece of foil, shiny side up, pressing excess under rim of plate. Add pie weights to fill three-fourths full.
    5. Bake until edges start to dry, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights, and bake until crust looks dry, about 10 minutes more. (Crust will not have color.) Let cool completely on a wire rack. Leave oven on.
    6. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg (50 grams) and 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water. Brush cutouts with egg wash.
    7. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).
    8. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugars, melted butter, vanilla, and remaining 4 eggs (200 grams) until smooth.
    9. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, and whisk until smooth. Pour into cooled prepared crust, and smooth flat with an offest spatula. Cover edges with foil.
    10. Bake for 50 minutes. Carefully remove foil from edges, and cover entire pie with foil. Bake until edges are set but center still jiggles and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175°F (79°C), 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove foil, and let cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Decorate the pie with the cutouts as desired. Lightly cover with foil, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve room temperature or chilled. Just before serving, top with Whipped Cream, and garnish with cinnamon, if desired.

     
    Whipped Cream
     
    Makes 1½ cups
    Ingredients
    • ¾ cup (180 grams) cold heavy whipping cream
    • 1½ tablespoons (18 grams) granulated sugar
    • ½ teaspoon (2 grams) vanilla extract
    Instructions
    1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until medium peaks form.

     

    Pie Dough Three Ways 

    We walk you through three ways to make your pie dough: by food processor,
    by hand, and by pastry blender 

    By Food Processor 

    1. In the work bowl of a food processor, place flour, sugar, and salt; pulse until combined. Pulsing the dry ingredients gives you a homogenous mixture to start so you don’t bite into lumps of salt or sugar in your lovely crust.  
    2. Add cold butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and butter is pea-size. When making pie dough, you want to incorporate whole pieces of fat into the flour without actually melting the fat into the flour. To do this, you’ll need very cold butter, straight from the fridge. Cut the cold butter into the flour until you see pea-size pieces of butter surrounded by dry flour. What does it mean to be pea-size? Look for the largest bits of butter—those should be close to the size of a common green pea. The rest of the butter-flour mixture will appear mealy, like coarse-ground cornmeal or grated Parmesan cheese. As the dough gets rolled out, those pea-size butter pieces are squished flat, essentially creating networks of random lamination. The magic occurs once that cold butter meets the heat of the oven. As the butter rapidly heats up, the water that is trapped inside the dough becomes steam, creating pockets of air. These air pockets combine with the rich flavor of butter, ultimately creating the flaky, buttery crust we all know and love.  
    3. With processor running, add 13 tablespoons (195 grams) ice water in a slow, steady stream just until dough comes together; add remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) ice water, if needed. (Mixture may appear crumbly. It should be moist and hold together when pinched.)  Ice-cold, filtered water is key here. Again, we want the butter to be broken down into little pieces, but we do not want the butter to melt into the dough. The mechanical action of the food processer creates heat from friction and ice water counteracts that heat. Besides keeping those little butter pockets in order, ice water also slows starch hydration and gluten formation. Starch molecules, which make up around 70% of flour, are very thirsty and drink up water quickly. Cold water gets distributed more evenly than warm water, and less water is needed overall. Gluten formation occurs in the presence of water, and limiting water means less gluten formation and a more tender dough.

    By Hand and By Pastry Cutter

    1. Alternatively, in a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and butter is pea-size. Make a well in center, and add 13 tablespoons (195 grams) ice water; add remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) ice water, if needed. Stir with fingers or a fork, and knead dough together just until dry ingredients are moistened.) If you are new to making pie dough, a food processor can seem more difficult to control. We recommend starting off with cutting butter in by hand or using a pastry blender, as you’ll be able to see the size of the butter as you go. Using a pastry blender requires a simple rocking motion until you reach the desired result. If you are using your hands, you will need to snap the butter chunks between your thumb and forefinger, breaking them into smaller pieces until you achieve the right size. A word about warmth: to prevent the butter from warming up and melting with the heat of your hands, dip your hands in ice water and dry them off before you start working.
    2. Turn out dough, and divide in half (about 530 grams each). Shape each half into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough may be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If the dough looked a little crumbly when you wrapped it, that’s a good thing. We want to hydrate the dough so it sticks together but not so much that it becomes excessively soft. The water molecules will disperse within the dough as it rests in the fridge, and when you unwrap it, it will appear more hydrated throughout. Refrigerating the dough also gives the gluten molecules in the dough time to relax. If you were to work with the dough immediately, the tight gluten network would resist your rolling pin and the crust would shrink in the pan when baking.

    The Par-Bake and the Pre-Bake 

    You’ve heard it before: nobody likes a soggy bottom. Remember, as we formed the dough, we kept starch hydration to a minimum. Well, those starch molecules are still willing to soak up any liquid that you give them, so a custard-based pie needs extra care. Since pumpkin pie filling has a higher liquid ratio, the bottom crust requires a par-bake (a.k.a. a partial bake). This seals the crust, keeping it extra crisp and ready to be filled.

    1. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of Pie Dough into a 13½-inch circle (3/16 inch thick). Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, pressing into bottom and up sides. Trim edges to ½ inch beyond edge of plate, if needed. Fold edges under, and roll down to edge of plate; using a fork dipped in flour, press edges flat. Unlike piecrusts with decorative crimps, these flat edges will be covered up by the lattice later. 


    1. Alternatively, if you are making a pie without the lattice, fold edges under, and roll down to edge of plate; crimp, if desired. Reserve any scraps for decorative cutouts. To crimp, take the forefinger and thumb of one hand, and hold them about an inch apart touching the outside edge of the dough. Take the knuckle of your forefinger of the opposite hand and push the inside edge gently into the two fingers to create the crimp. Continue, moving around the edge of the pie.
    2. Freeze until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Freezing the crust firms up the butter and keeps the crust from sliding as it heats in the oven. Remember, cold butter steams and creates flakiness, whereas warm butter melts and causes droopiness. 
    3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). 
    4. Lightly dock (prick) prepared crust with a fork. Docking is simply using a fork or a wooden pick to make several small holes on the bottom of the unbaked piecrust. Without the holes, steam builds up under the crust, causing ballooning and outright unruliness. The perforations are large enough to allow steam to escape but small enough that filling will not leak through. 
    5. Top with a piece of foil, shiny side up, pressing excess under rim of plate. With nonstick foil, the dull side contains the nonstick material. We place this side directly onto the dough so the foil will release cleanly after the pie weights are removed.
    6. Add pie weights to fill three-fourths full. Pie weights are going to be your trusty pantry tool. You can purchase reusable ceramic or metal pie weights online or at specialty stores, but dried beans and rice work equally as well and can be used repeatedly. One famous celebrity chef has been using the same dried beans for around 20 years, so place your beans or rice in a jar labeled “pie weights” and keep them handy for the future. 
    7. Bake until edges start to dry, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights, and bake until crust looks dry, about 10 minutes more. (Crust will not have color.) Let cool completely on a wire rack. Leave oven on. 

    Lattice Practice 

    Now it’s time to bring in the wow factor. It’s rare to see a custard pie sporting a crisscross top, as the unbaked filling isn’t thick enough to support a lattice. This leads to woven pie dough that sinks down into the filling and stays unbaked and chewy. But we have the secret to the perfect crust-topped custard pie, and it starts with par-baking the lattice separately from the pie. Creating the lattice before adding it to the pie not only gives you a stress-free chance to create the pattern of your dreams, but it also means your lattice will bake up undeniably crispy and flaky. If you just want to practice your all-butter piecrust and save lattice-making for a later date, we get you. Follow the simple Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream recipe, which uses cutouts and cinnamon for a gorgeous alternative. 

    1. Using a fine-point permanent marker, draw a 10-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Mark 1 inch inside drawn circle at cardinal points. Turn parchment over, and place on a baking sheet. The circle will still be visible when you flip the parchment over, and the ink will not come into contact with your dough. Alternatively, you can cover the template with a second piece of parchment. After you have formed your lattice, slide the template out from under the top piece of parchment and save it for future endeavors. 
    2. On a lightly floured surface, roll remaining Pie Dough into a 14-inch circle (⅛ inch thick). Using a pastry wheel, cut 2 inches off one side of dough; set aside. Starting at cut edge, cut 12 (¾-inch-wide) strips; set aside any unused rolled-out Pie Dough. A metal kitchen ruler makes easy and exact work for cutting dough strips. Some bakers have an extra-special item in their kitchen toolbox. A multiple wheel pastry cutter, also known as a “bicycle,” can cut up to 6 strips at a time and expands to different sizes.  
    3. Place 6 strips horizontally ¾ inch apart on drawn circle, starting and ending at 1-inch marks. Fold back alternating strips, and place 1 strip vertically across horizontal strips; unfold strips. Repeat weaving with remaining strips, starting and ending at 1-inch marks and spacing strips ¾ inch apart. Forming your lattice separate from your pie gives you a clean surface and stress-free opportunity to learn the design.

    Forming the Lattice

     

    1. Using a pastry wheel, trim strips even with drawn circle. 
    2. Using desired small decorative cutters, cut remaining rolled-out Pie Dough, rerolling scraps once. (You should have about 25 cutouts.) Place on baking sheet around lattice. Refrigerate until firm and ready to use, 20 to 30 minutes. Why only reroll the scraps once? Each time you work the dough, butter is melted into the flour and gluten networks are strengthened. This means dough that is rerolled again and again will be tough rather than flaky and tender. Zero-waste tip: if you do end up with extra scraps, don’t toss them. Cut them into about 1-inch pieces, place them in the fridge, and bake them after your pie comes out of the oven. A quick egg wash and sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before baking turns them into a special treat. Because of their size, the bake time will be reduced (check after 5 minutes), and with little added effort, you will have some bonus bite-size sweets for snacking.
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg (50 grams) and 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water. Brush lattice with egg wash. Brush bottom of each cutout with egg wash, one at a time, and place around edge of lattice (on drawn circle), overlapping slightly. Brush tops of cutouts with egg wash. We find that an egg wash using a whole egg creates a crust that is perfectly browned with a golden sheen. An egg yolk- only wash lends darker color, whereas an egg white-only wash produces results that are paler.
    4. Bake until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).

    The Pumpkin Pie Filling 

    Golden and silky, our luscious pumpkin custard comes together quickly and requires just two bowls and a whisk. This means you can spend more time perfecting your piecrust. 

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugars, melted butter, vanilla, and remaining 4 eggs (200 grams) until smooth. Evaporated milk contains around 60% less water than its milk counterpart. To drive off water, the milk is heated, which slightly caramelizes the milk sugars. Because pumpkin purée naturally contains water, evaporated milk is a great way to maintain a thicker custard while adding delicate caramelized notes. 
    2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, and whisk until smooth. Pour into cooled prepared crust, and smooth flat with an offset spatula. Cover edges with foil. Mixtures of store-bought pumpkin pie spice can be handy, but some contain additives like sulfiting agents. We recommend using a blend of individual spices, which also gives flexibility of adjusting each spice as desired. If you choose an all-in-one, substitute 1 tablespoon (6 grams) pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
    3. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil, and top with baked lattice. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175°F (79°C), about 15 minutes more. If you are not using a lattice, bake the pie for 50 minutes. Carefully remove the foil from the edges, and cover the entire pie with foil. Bake until edges are set but center still jiggles and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175°F (79°C), 20 to 25 minutes more.
    4. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Lightly cover with foil, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature or chilled. If you do not have a lattice, just before serving, top with Whipped Cream, and garnish with cutouts and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.

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