Pumpkin pie is a North American tradition and is no exception in our home. Each year I try a different approach, recipe or spin on the classic to keep things interesting, and this year I decided to go with a bruleed top. The reason this works so well here is because the texture and consistency of pumpkin pie is somewhat similar to a custard based creme brulee (pre bruleeing of course). It is fairly firm, it’s not too “wet”, and the ingredients of a pumpkin pie are quite similar to a creme brulee except in different ratios- you got eggs, cream, sugar and then in this case, pumpkin! The key to a successful brulee isn my opinion is having a torch. Sure, you can do it with a broiler, but I find this leads to inconsistencies I would rather avoid- and playing with that broiler it is so dicey. Seriously, one second too long under there and *sizzle*, your entire dish would be ruined. That’s why I like the precision of the torch.
Lets also talk about the crust on this pie. I have been long searching for a pie crust I really like that isn’t so dry and dull- but this one turned out fabulous. It is certainly a bit of a more “wet” pastry dough than you may be accustomed to which is why it’s a good idea to blind bake it for so long (or else it will stay soggy). The result is a super flaky, almost puff pastry like dough that is perfect for this comforting fall pie. Alright folks, this is what I did.
Pumpkin Pie Brulee
Pumpkin Pie Brûlée
- ~1 cup of water in a jar with ice cubes in it
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter straight from freezer, cut into small pieces
- Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a big bowl.
- Once combined, add in the butter pieces and work them in with the pastry blender. Once the butter looks like baby peas, stop mixing so you don't overwork it.
- Drizzle in about a 1/2 cup of the water into the flour mixture. With a big spatula, pack the dough together. If its still very crumbly, add more water, one spoonful at a time. I usually use about 3/4 cup of water total.
- Gently kneed it together into one big ball. Flatten it out into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least two hours before rolling it. If you want to freeze it at this point, wrap it in a few layers and a freezer bag and keep for a few months. Let it defrost in the fridge before using.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree with the sugar until combined.
- Add in the eggs, cream, salt and spices and stir until well incorporated.
- Whip cream on high speed until you can draw waves in it with the beaters and soft peaks form.
- Add in the sugars, extract and cinnamon and beet again until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Flour a surface lightly and roll the dough out until it's approximately 14 inches in diameter. Carefully pick it up and move it to a 9 inch glass pie dish. You can crimp it or prick it or just tuck the sides under. I went for a "sunshine" look with my crimping.
- Piece the dough with a fork all over (sides too!), then line with aluminum foil and pie weights/beans. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the sides begin to set. Remove the foil and the beans and reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.
- Pour the pumpkin filling into the blind baked crust and bake until the center is set and the crust is golden, about 1 hour and 15-20 minutes. Transfer pie to a rack and let cool for an hour before covering with saran wrap and transferring to the fridge.
- Remove from fridge and sprinkle with 2 tbsp of the sugar. Using a blow torch, caramelize the sugar until bubbling and browned. Add another layer of 2 tablespoons of sugar and repeat process. Do it one more time for good measure with another 2 tablespoons of sugar. Allow the bubbling to subside and the sugars to harden before cutting in. Serve with maple cream on the side.
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Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian, an avid food writer and blogger, a cookbook author and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc.