Cooking For Engineers

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Traditional Pecan Pie

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After baking the Chocolate Pecan Pie yesterday, I decided to bake a traditional pecan pie. Pecan pie fillings generally have a texture between custard and gooey. They are also very sweet. This is how I make a traditional pecan pie.

I start by turning on my oven to preheat. I'll be baking the crust blind, so I preheat to 400°F. While the oven is warming up, I throw (170 g) pecans onto a pan and slip them in for ten minutes to toast, stirring once or twice.


After the pecans are toasted, I set them aside to cool and then chop them up. If you chop them while they are hot, the pecans will crumble. It's best to wait the few minutes for them to cool off.


Once the oven has been heated, blind bake the crust. This can be performed simply by lining the inside of the crust with a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper. Fill the foil or paper lining with pie weights (ceramic beads that keep the crust from rising and puffing up when baked empty). If you don't have pie weights handy, simply pop holes in the crust (bottom and sides) with a fork. (Make sure the crust is thawed if you're using a frozen crust.) Slip the pie crust onto the center rack and bake until the crust is light golden (about 10 minutes). In the meantime, assemble the filling.

It is often faster for me to weigh out ingredients than to try to measure with liquid and dry measuring cups, so I'll list the ingredients in the units which I use in my own kitchen here and in both volume and mass below. The ingredients I use in the filling are 55 g butter, 3 large eggs (150 g total), 100 g granulated sugar, and (315 g) maple syrup. Purists will notice that I am deviating from tradition here. Normally you would use corn syrup, more sugar, and more butter. I like the flavor that maple syrup brings and I think that it's plenty sweet already.


Melt the butter and whisk the ingredients together with 3 g of table salt to bring out the flavors.


It takes a bit of muscle to get it smooth because of the eggs, but keep at it until it's well blended. (Or use a mixer.)


Now, fold in the chopped pecans. The filling is ready now.


If everything was timed correctly, the crust should be light golden yellow to brown (ten minutes). Pull it out and reduce the oven temperature to 275°F. We're going to slow bake the pie to ensure the filling bakes evenly. A higher temperature might result in the center of the filling to still be liquid while the outside is overcooked.


Pour the filling into the crust and level it. Slip it into the middle of the 275°F oven and bake for 60 minutes.


The pie is done when you hold the sides and twist gently. The outer filling should not move and the inside should jiggle a little. Take it out and let it cool. This will allow the center to finish cooking and will let the pie set. Serve after fully cooled. I like to give it a bit of a refrigeration as well.



If you want to serve the pie warm, after the pie has been fully cooled, put it in an oven at 250°F for 15 minutes.


Traditional Pecan Pie (makes one 9 in. pie)
Preheat oven to 400°F
9 in. pie crustprebakepour and levelbake 275°F 60 min.
6 oz. (170 g) pecans, toastedchopmix
4 Tbs. (55 g) butter, meltedwhisk
3 large (150 g) eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (245 mL or 315 g) maple syrup
1/2 tsp. (3 g) salt

Update on July 30, 2011: After baking three of these pies in rapid succession, I have a couple more tips. I used already chopped pecan pieces (available in the bulk section of my local supermarket) to save the (sometimes messy) step of chopping the pecans. If you're lucky enough to have chopped pecans available for sale, feel free to use those. The amount of time it takes to toast them seems to vary from day to day. Just spread them out in a pan and let them toast while the oven is preheating and check on them every few minutes until they are fragrant. Then check on them more often and remove them before they begin to burn. As long as you can smell the strong aroma of toasted pecans, it's good. I store my maple syrup in the fridge, so it's cold enough to immediately turn the butter back into a solid which makes it difficult to whisk. Microwaving the maple syrup after measuring out the quantity you need until it is warm (90-100°F) works well, just make sure it doesn't get too hot (150°F) or the eggs could cook/curdle. Finally, I followed the advice of an anonymous commenter below and instead of mixing the pecans in before pouring the filling into the fie crust, I simply put the toasted pecans in the pie crust and poured the filling over it. This was faster and easier because the pecan pieces didn't cause the filling to pour funny and I could easily make the filling come out in a steady controllable stream.

Update on July 31, 2011: I discovered last night that my traditional pecan pie has the exact same ingredients and quantities as one of the subvariants of Pecan Pie published in The New Best Recipe by the editors Cook's Illustrated Magazine. Although, The New Best Recipe was published after my recipe was posted online, I suspect that whoever I got my recipe from years before ultimately got the recipe from an earlier printing of the Cook's Illustrated recipe. So, if you like this pecan pie recipe, be sure to check out the cookbook or the magazine!


Written by Michael Chu
Published on
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44 comments on Traditional Pecan Pie:(Post a comment)

On April 17, 2006 at 09:36 PM, Alredhead (guest) said...
Mr. Chu,

I like the main course and dessert recipes, how about some side dishes? Like veggies or something?

What you've made so far looks absolutely wonderful and you are doing a great job!


On April 17, 2006 at 09:36 PM, Michael Chu said...
I'll work on more sides soon. I promise.


On April 17, 2006 at 09:36 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Love it. You rule.

Can you also do snacks as well as main courses?


On April 17, 2006 at 09:37 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Have you tried using "Lyle's Golden Syrup" (a refiner's syrup) instead of maple? I has a very rich, carmel flavor which works very well in this pie.


On April 17, 2006 at 09:37 PM, Stephanie (guest) said...
You're amazing...baking pies midweek?! Wish I had that much energy! All my baking seems to be relegated to the weekend....


On April 17, 2006 at 09:37 PM, Cliff (guest) said...
I really like the pecan pie in a custard mode. They are the best. I am an engineer with several blogs that may be of interest at:

http://cmw_blog_index.blogspot.com/


On April 17, 2006 at 09:37 PM, Liz (guest) said...
Great pie rec. and SUPER BLOG !!!


On April 17, 2006 at 09:38 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I love the novel way in wich you organise the recipes that you talk about in your blog. It makes reading recipies so much easier and more pleasant!


On April 17, 2006 at 09:38 PM, an anonymous reader said...
i thought that the pie sucked it was very pecany it did not taste very good it tasted like ass


On April 17, 2006 at 09:38 PM, tom (guest) said...
i've always had pecan pie with Karo syrup. i think i'd like to try one with maple syurp...that would be a different taste altogether.


On April 17, 2006 at 09:39 PM, MsOktober (guest) said...
Last year I made *3* maple pecan pies for Thanksgiving dinner and none of them solidified. I kept thinking I didn't measure right, didn't bake long enough, etc...but the third one turned out just as runny as the first. It had to be the recipe. And guess who's recipe it was? That's right, Martha Stewart! So this year I'll be trying yours and I have a feeling it will turn out just fine :-)


On April 17, 2006 at 09:39 PM, Michael Chu said...
Aime,

I would still test the recipe first (before you serve it for Thanksgiving). Oven temperature variations, viscosity of maple syrup, relative humidity, and other factors could still cause your pies to not set. Also, make sure your refrigerate your pies for a few hours at least before serving.

Michael


On April 17, 2006 at 09:39 PM, jessyz (guest) said...
I love pecans and I love maple syrup I tried this recipie out and it is awesomme, I also tried making small mini pies for packed lunches and picnics they were a hit with everyone within a two mile radius


On April 17, 2006 at 09:40 PM, MsOktober (guest) said...
Michael,

Thanks for the advice. I'll give it a test run....and hopefully it won't be runny! :)


On April 17, 2006 at 09:40 PM, Ben FrantzDale (guest) said...
I'll have to try this one out. One favorite in my family is cranberry-pecan pie. The tart cranberries cut down on the sweetness a bit making for a more complex flavor. I don't have the recipe here, but if I recall you just throw in a cup or so of raw cranberries (not crasins). Youm may remove some pecans, I forget.


On April 17, 2006 at 09:40 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Two things:

First, I've always used the recipe from the Karo syrup bottle, even when baking the pies in bulk. I have *got* to try this one with the maple syrup. /drooldrooldrool

Second, if you're making several pies (like say, 60) it really helps to measure the pecans into the pans and then pour the custard over them. If you mix them in and then pour the filling into the crusts, it's very difficult to get an equal amount of pecans into each pie. (There's nothing worse than a pecan pie with no pecans :)

(okay, three things)

Third, I wonder how this would taste with some grated coconut in it...


On April 17, 2006 at 09:40 PM, an anonymous reader said...
does any one know if you can freeze pecan pie?


On April 17, 2006 at 09:41 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I absolutely hate pecans but have made pecan pie several times, it is my father's favorite and I am a totaly Daddy's girl. This is the second recipe I have seen that involves toasting the pecans, the other uses corn syrup like most of them do. Think I'll ask Daddy if he likes maple syrup and perhaps this will be a good way to bribe him into coming over for a visit (I just moved from chicago to Iowa and so am 5.5-6 hours away). I was also wondering if pecan pie can be frozen, I am pretty sure I have seen it in the freezer case at the store, I'll have to look next time I go. I think the mini pie idea would be great for me, I could make a bunch of minies and freeze them since I would never eat any and I'm not sure if he would eat it all in one visit (plus they'd be cute).

Karen
(kskerr)


On August 06, 2006 at 03:43 PM, crobbandrews (guest) said...
Subject: traditional pecan pie
PECAN PIE-TRADITIONAL CALLS FOR 4 TABLESPOONS OF BUTTER BUT PHOTO LOOKS AS IF IT IS 4 TEASPOONS. PLEASE CONFIRM. THANK YOU


On July 17, 2007 at 01:56 PM, Gale (guest) said...
Subject: Old recipe for Pecan Pie
My family, originally from the south, always made Pecan Pie with brown sugar...not syrup. I don't know if this was the original recipe or if the syrup method existed simultaneously. I do know southerners did not make, nor have ready access to, maple syrup...that's a New England food.

Everyone loves this recipe, give it a try:

1-1/2 cup pecans
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup water
1 pound brown sugar
1/4 cup butter

Beat eggs until frothy and set aside. Combine sugar & water in a 2 quart saucepan. Using moderate heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Now bring to a full boil and cook for 3 minutes. Gradually stir the hot syrup into the beaten eggs. Blend butter, extract and pecans into the mixture. Pour into (unbaked) pie crust and bake @ 350 degrees for 1 hour or until set.


On November 17, 2007 at 07:09 PM, hello (guest) said...
Subject: suggestion
You said "it takes a bit of muscle" to get the batter smooth, "because of the eggs." However, the problem is actually the order in which you are combining the ingredients, and how. Start with just a single egg, beat it, and then add the rest of the eggs and sugar in increments. It will be quite smooth, then just fold in the dry ingredients. This is true of any number of recipes. Good luck!


On November 22, 2007 at 07:14 PM, an anonymous reader said...
You forgot to say to melt the butter...


On November 22, 2007 at 07:24 PM, Michael Chu said...
Anonymous wrote:
You forgot to say to melt the butter...

Good catch. I updated the article.


On November 24, 2007 at 01:50 PM, Peggy1998 (guest) said...
Subject: freezing pecan pie
does anyone know if you can freeze a pecan pie?


On December 12, 2007 at 05:42 PM, S_Hewitt (guest) said...
Subject: addition to pecan pie...
Great-looking recipe. Try adding one or two tablespoons of dark or golden rum. It makes a huge difference to the dark-Karo-syrup version of pecan pie. Gives it a butter-rum flavor (I guess that's not too surprising).


On December 20, 2007 at 03:19 AM, an anonymous reader said...
So much better than Karo Corn Syrup recipe on the back. I made it 2 times in a month! My friends loved it so much, I forwarded your web site link to anyone who wanted it! :D


On January 21, 2008 at 09:53 PM, Leila (guest) said...
Subject: Freezing a pecan pie
Hi... I saw the following info on another website & thought I would pass it on. It worked for my pecan pie just fine. :)
Yes, you can freeze pecan pie. Cook in the usual way and then allow to cool completely before freezing. It is a good idea to freeze it in the pan to protect the crust. When it is cold wrap the pie in plastic wrap and then place in a plastic freezer bag. The pie can be frozen for up to four months.
To use allow to defrost in the refrigerator. If you want to eat the pie warm you can re-heat it in a low oven - 325F for around 15-20 minutes.


On April 12, 2008 at 06:20 AM, Georgia Pecan Lover (guest) said...
Subject: Pecan Pie like Mr. Edwards
'ello!

I'm looking for a pie that is similar to Mr. Edwards Pecan Pie.

Most homemade pecan pie recipe fillings are too eggy. It is not smooth and creamy like I would like it. I've tasted a lot of homemade pecan pie and all of them no matter who bakes them, comes out with that eggy tasting slightly lumpy filling.

Please tell me how the filling comes out!

Georgia Pecan Lover!

P.S. I can't stand it when people say ugly things on the board. If you don't like it say so. You don't have to use profanity.


On October 23, 2008 at 10:25 PM, Shirl (guest) said...
Subject: Pecan Pie
When I saw you substituted maple syrup for the Karo syrup, I needed to try this recipe. We got a gift of dark syrup and dh loves the light variety - so this is a great way to use some of it this Saturday. I'll let you know.

A long time ago, we were traveling thru Georgia and had lunch. I ordered a piece of pecan pie and it was SO GOOD I never forgot it. The center of the pie was like a sponge, moist and cake-like (sort of), and not tooth-ache sweet - it was not sticky or gooey. Does anyone have any idea about that?

You have a great site!


On November 19, 2008 at 06:26 PM, Kelly (guest) said...
Subject: Great recipe, great site.
Thanks for the great recipe. A co-worker and I were talking about how to make a pecan pie without using Karo, and I'm thrilled that this one looks so easy and tasty! Maple syrup! What a great idea!


On December 02, 2008 at 03:36 AM, dea (guest) said...
Subject: cranberry-pecan pie
love this recipe... and your site.
just wanted to say, after reading the comments, that i 've eaten cranberry-maple pie here in maple land, and they are the best. i'll try adding cranberries to this maple pecan pie just for the fun of it. :)


On December 22, 2008 at 05:37 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Custardy pecan pie
Shirl above was looking for a pecan pie that was not gooey in the middle - that may have been a buttermilk pecan pie, which looks more like a egg custard in the middle and not syrupy.

Great forum, by the by.... :)


On December 07, 2009 at 12:21 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Can honey be substituted for the maple syrup. I have plenty of honey but not much maple syrup. I'd think it should work.

Mike


On December 23, 2009 at 10:33 PM, Nivedita (guest) said...
Subject: What to do with left overs - pecan Pie Pancakes
Yummiest pancake you'd have ever eaten. Some creativity with the syrup would make it better. Like adding buttered rum + molasses.. Go figure :)


On December 29, 2009 at 06:48 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Love your style! Here's my 2-cents...
I prefer to use a little less syrup [2/3 cup] and a little more sugar [1 cup] and I use dark brown sugar instead of white. I think that makes for a milder pie with an improved texture.

I also throw my pecans into the crust while I pre-bake it, then simply pour the custard into the shell before closing the door and dropping the temp.

Thanks so much for your very informative and easy to comprehend cooking site.


On January 02, 2010 at 07:26 AM, SofiaAgapao (guest) said...
Subject: Mini pies?
This sounds amazing! I plan on trying both this and your chocolate pecan pie tomorrow. Do you have any advice or suggestions for baking mini pies? I bought small (single serving) aluminum pie dishes, but I am worried about possibly burning the crust while the middle doesn't cook at all (I had this problem when trying to make mini brownie bites). Do I need to lower the oven temperature or something? Please help!


On February 09, 2010 at 02:51 AM, Reb (guest) said...
Subject: Pecan Pie Recipe
Sounds like a bunch of those dang gummed Yankees have invaded the kitchen... Probably call it "Pee-can Pie," too. :lol:


On October 29, 2010 at 11:26 PM, Heather Thalwitzer (guest) said...
Subject: Awesome
THanks- was looking for something corn-syrup free and LOVE the flavor of maple especially combined w/ pecans! Pie looks beautiful, haven't cut into it yet.


On December 24, 2010 at 02:11 PM, Vee (guest) said...
Subject: Thank you!
[color=darkblue:0a5c976fc1]Greetings from Germany!
I just wanted to say thank you so much for this recipe... I've been making it for Thanksgiving for the last few years and everyone loves it! It's become "my" recipe that I always bring along :) I've recommended your site to friends because I don't want to take all the credit for this lurrrrvely pie!

I've just made it again to take to a friends place for Christmas.... can't wait!

Thanks again and Merry Christmas!
Cheers,
Vee[/color:0a5c976fc1]


On January 21, 2011 at 06:09 AM, Kaye (guest) said...
Subject: Pean Pie
I have just used this recipe to make 150 mini pecan pies for a wedding. I followed the recipe almost exactly the only change I made was I used brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. These came out fantastic and everyone raved about them. They were delicious and people actually phone throughout the following week to tell me they were the best pecan pies they have ever eaten. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. It is one I will be making over & over.


On January 28, 2011 at 05:11 AM, The cute Pie Guy (guest) said...
Subject: mini Pecan pies
I noticed a guest post made mini pecan pies.

I was wondering if the filling was stable enough where you could ship these pies to a friend without getting damage by movement.

Thanks for the information,
The cute Pie Guy


On December 01, 2011 at 08:52 PM, Shelly (guest) said...
Subject: Pecan Pie
Okay, this is an engineering question! How do you cut pecan pie so it doesn't smash?
I used whole/half pecans and I think the chopped ones would be much better. But even so, how do you cut through the pecans without them moving around and looking messy?


On December 01, 2011 at 10:37 PM, Dilbert said...
(1) pie must be cooled - even warm the filling will mush
(2) _sharp_ knife
(3) cut at a steep angle - 45' or steeper - trying to cut the entire length of a slice "flat through" will mush all of it

secret trick: toast the pecan halves you intend to 'decorate' the top with before baking - that will make them softer and easier to slice thru.


On November 05, 2013 at 08:05 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Lyle's Golden Syrup
Lyle's Golden Syrup makes the best pecan pies, IMO. At worst, you will find it at Whole Foods and Kroger and Meijer both carry it here in the Midwest.

: