This wonderful pumpkin pie, which has a light, almost chiffon-like filling, comes from my friend Rita Dier. Once I tasted her pumpkin pie, it quickly became my favorite.
- To make the pie: Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, too. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick, lifting and rotating the dough occasionally to keep it from sticking. Transfer the dough to a 9-by-1 1/2-inch pie dish. Trim off the excess dough so it extends about 1/2 inch over the edges of the dish. Gather up the scraps, press into a thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and refrigerate to use later. Fold the dough overhang under itself, and flute the edges. Pierce the dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Position the rack in the top third of the oven. Place a baking sheet on the rack and preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil, then fill it with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake on the hot baking sheet until the pastry looks set, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Continue baking until the pastry is just beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, whisk the puree, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, if using, cloves, and salt together in a medium bowl until smooth. In another medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer set at high speed, beat the eggs until very light and tripled in volume, about 3 minutes. Fold the eggs into the pumpkin mixture. Pour into the pie shell, right to the brim, without spilling.
- Place on the hot baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F. Continue baking the filling has risen evenly in a low dome and moves as a unit when the pie is gently shaken, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight. The pie can be baked up to 1 day ahead.
- To make the cutouts: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the reserved scraps to 1/8-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out leaf or other fall shapes. Gather up the dough and reroll until all of the dough has been used. Transfer the dough leaves to the baking sheet. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, score lines in the dough leaves to simulate veins. Freeze for about 15 minutes.
- To make the egg glaze, using a fork, beat the yolk and cream together in a ramekin or custard cup. Lightly brush some of the glaze over the leave shapes. Bake until the pastry leaves are crisp and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
- To make the whipped cream: Chill a medium bowl in the freezer or refrigerator. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Whip with a hand-held electric mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. If the cream separates, just whisk it well until it comes back together.
- Decorate the top of the pie with the pastry leaves. Slice the pie and serve chilled with the whipped cream.
- Save the seeds and roast them! To toast the seeds, fill the bowl with cold water and wash the seeds between your fingers. Pick out and discard the fibers. Drain the seeds and dry them on a kitchen towel. Toss the seeds in a little olive oil (about 2 teaspoons per cup of seeds) and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Let the seeds air-dry for a few hours, as this makes them extra crunchy after baking. Bake, stirring the seeds occasionally, in a preheated 350°F oven until they are toasted and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Season as desired (sea salt is nice, but so is Old Bay Seasoning), and serve warm or at room temperature. They are wonderful for snacking or sprinkling on salads.
Recipe by Rick Rodgers
Rick Rodgers is an award-winning cooking teacher and the author of over 40 cookbooks on a wide range of subjects, including The Big Book of Sides (Ballantine). In addition to writing the TasteBook.com column ‘”Tips from the Test Kitchen,” Rick works with entertainment figures, corporations, and celebrity chefs on their cookbooks. His clients include Tommy Bahama, Frankie Avalon, Patti LaBelle, and Williams-Sonoma. See more of his work on www.RickRodgers.com.