I made this crust from Tom Douglas’ Dahila Bakery Cookbook for his Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate and Pecans. Julie and I started baking it for our friend David’s birthday. We gave ourselves 5 hours to make the pie because that should be enough time, right? Hah. No. This crust comes out hearty, nutty, and absolutely delicious, but we had to make three batches of it, and the final one STILL didn’t really look very beautiful. Granted, we picniced outside while baking the first one and burned it. The second one, Julie accidentally doubled the vinegar, giving it a potent flavor, and the third one shrank in the oven. Hmm…try it out and let me know if it worked for you. Did you do something differently? It provides a thick, salty and buttery crust that offsets cream filling perfectly.
Makes 1 crust
- 1/2 cup pecans, halves or pieces
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice, very cold
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice-cold water as needed
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
Put the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl to make sure none of the nuts are stuck to the bowl. Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt and pulse 2 to 3 times to mix the dry ingredients with the nuts. Add the butter and pulse 10 times or a few more untl the pieces of butter are slightly smaller than peas.
Combine 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water with the vinegar in a small measuring cup, then gradually pour the water-vinegar mixture through the feed tube and pulse 3 or 4 times, or until the mixture looks “shaggy”. Remove the lid and squeeze some of the dough, which should come together as a clump. If the mixture seems too dry, add the remaining tablespoon of cold water and pulse a few more times.
Remove the dough from the food processor and dump it onto a work surface. Use your hands to gather the dough into a flattened disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling.
Unwrap the chilled dough and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan. An easy way to transfer the dough is to fold the dough in half or quarters. Pick up the folded dough and place it in the pan, unfold gently, easing it into the pan. Dahlia Bakery says to not stretch it into the pan. Use your fingers to press the dough lightly against the sides of the pan all the way around so that it won’t slide down.
Trim the excess dough to a 3/4 to 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang up and over (toward the inside of the pan) and use your hands to press gently on the dough all around the cirumference to form a neat pastry rim 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Then use the narrowest side of the handle of a small tool such as a pairing knife to press down on this pastry rim against the pan at 1-inch intervals to crimp and seal. Another way to finish the edge of the crust is to use what Dahlia Bakery refers to as “the classic thumb and finger” flutted edge. Chill for 15 to 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350. Line the pastry shell with a piece of parchment, making sure that it is large enough that you can grab the edges of it later. Fill it will dried beans. Bake until the bottom of the dough is baked through but not yet browned, 55 to 60 minutes. (This is when our outer crust burned. Perhaps my oven runs hotter, but be careful regardless.) Remove the pan from the oven and remove the paper and the dried beans. Return the pie pan to the oven and bake until the bottom of the crust is lightly golden, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before filling the pastry shell.