When I was in NC, we had a pre-Thanksgiving celebration involving lots of delicious food, including pumpkin pie. My mother, father and I love it. My sister won't touch it. Whatevs - more for us.
Anyway, I made this recipe for the first time - though I've had my eye on it for a while. The problem with pumpkin pie is that it's very seasonal - and practically everyone hates it. So I don't get to experiment as much as I'd like.
In a totally insane turn, I made a pie - having a rice-flour crust (?!) - without any of the standard issue gizmos to make the work efficient. Um, MacGyver couldn't have done it with less. These people do not bake. There was no rolling pin. No cloves. No hand mixer? (I whipped the cream by hand like it was 1863.) And, btw, while I really like baked goods made with rice flour - it gives an excellent short (or sandy) texture to a crust - it does not function like wheat flour. And I'm a baker who always bakes with wheat. At a different altitude. With an electric oven.
Anyway, there was so much cursing happening. It didn't sound like Thanksgiving. Or maybe it did. I finally put the thing in the oven - a gas, Viking professional that works so beautifully it's ridiculous (goes to show, they're cookers, not bakers) - and sat down with a big glass of wine. A while later, it occured that my crust was getting too brown. Ordinarily I use crust shields but, yeah, good luck with that. So I opened the oven and carefully tried to place a piece of tin foil over the whole shebang.
Do you know that gas ovens have a breeze? While attempting to work my careful way, said breeze came up and pushed the tin foil onto setting custard. Egad, you have rarely heard such profanity.
It was at that moment I realized that my perfectionism is never more engaged than when I bake. I seriously considered killing myself over the mottled filling. According to my family members - who seemed very sincere (and kind of concerned) - it was barely a scrape. They said it was the best looking pie they'd ever seen - and I could tell they meant it. Which quickly had me railing at them over all the other pies I've made for them over the years. Have they no ability to discern??
(Brief sidebar: This reminds me of the time, years ago, that Scott's parents were coming for dinner and I tried to separate a cake from its bundt pan before it was cool enough (that's an issue I've had to work hard to overcome). I seriously tried to cancel the party. And I don't think I've ever eaten a dessert in their house that didn't come from Loblaws. Apparently I have a problem.)
Fast-forward to 45 minutes later when my parents begged me relentlessly to serve the pie, which wasn't even freakin' cool?!?! They told me, like hyper 5-year olds, that it all looks the same in your stomach. Lord.
In some sort of miracle it held its shape, and the hand-whipped cream was the perfect texture (although lacking vanilla extract - did I mention they don't have that either?). It was truly delicious, dare I say it myself. Like, transcendent. I thought my mother was going to cry. I think my father did.
Today, as my daughter also loves this pie, I decided to make it again. Sure, Scott got all huffy cuz he hates it and he wants another kind of homemade dessert of his own (good luck, the pie took 2 hours to make). He's making a bone-in ham with apple butter glaze and roast vegetables, with which this pie will go beautifully. I suppose I should have made him pie too but seriously, I've had a headache for week.
I used my Emile Henri pie plate which is, technically belongs to my friend Nicole (who got it from Sandra - one of my other, nomadic, friends - at a garage sales years ago). It's very deep (which makes it difficult to discern how much extra crust you'll need) allowing for the full amount of custard the recipe instructs. Don't tell Nicole, but I'm not so psyched to give it back.
I used one of my regular crust recipes (thank you Angela, from work) and, after blind-baking - an absolute custard pie necessity peeps - the edges had shrunk back more than expected. I thought of throwing myself off a bridge.
Then I remembered it all looks the same in your stomach.
So here you go (warts and all):