Week 10: Thanksgiving part one, in which we discover, bake, and gobble the Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is any pie-maker’s happy place. Everyone expects pie. Everyone is ready to eat more than one slice of pie (everyone who is any fun that is). Pie is celebrated. Pie is praised. Pie is gobbled. Pie is The Finale.

I like making a desert that is well and truly seen by all as The Finale. I like being the center of attention like that, I admit.

At the same time, the perfectionist pie maker might find Thanksgiving a shade stressful. I mean, a pie that is The Finale must not only be swoon-worthy, with a crust both flaky and golden and a filling to sing about, it must also be Magnificent to Behold. A perfectionist finds that prospect a little eek-inducing.

Last year I avoided pie completely, because last year I wanted to skip the finicky crust-making process. Instead I made an apple tart cake and a cranberry caramel tart, both delicious, both beautiful, both fitting for the season. However, a few family members asked in a quiet, “not-that-I’m-disappointed-or-anything” sort of way, whether or not there was going to be pumpkin pie. After I stopped feeling miffed (“Be thankful for what you’ve got here people!”), I realized that they had a point. It wasn’t right. Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie is wrong. This year there would be pumpkin pie. My fella asked me if I was making “a regular pumpkin pie” (knowing that it is my habit / addiction to try new recipes, even / especially for the most high-pressure occasions) and when I told him yes, he said, “Yes!” The only ingredient that makes this a little non-traditional is maple syrup, but who could get upset about that?

I am one of those people who could pretty much drink maple syrup straight from the jar. I find it hard to imagine many foods that couldn’t be improved with a little drizzle of its golden perfection. So when Fall comes I find every excuse to bake / cook / drink the stuff. When I discovered a recipe for Maple Pumpkin Pie I felt that it would satisfy the traditionalists in my family as well as my inclination to tweak a classic into something even more memorable. One bite of this pie was all it took to convince me that it will be very unlikely that I will experiment with different pumpkin pie recipes again. Do not bother looking for another recipe. This one is The One. Continue reading

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