I really enjoy pecan pie, but a lot of the corn syrup-based pies can be a little too sweet. Being from New England, I also really enjoy maple syrup, and maple and pecan pair really well together, so I baked up this little number as one of the six pies I made for Pi Day this year. All of my pies for Pi Day had a representation of π on them, but this one was only an approximation (hard to fit all of an irrational number on a pie with finite dimensions!)
Total time to make this pie is about 6 1/2 hours, but that includes a lot of waiting. There's only about 30 minutes of active preparation.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients and Gear
Note: We'll be making the crust from scratch. Since I was baking up a lot of pies, I was working in double-crust batches when taking the photos here, so stick with the measurements in the text, not what you might see in the photos.
Gather up the following ingredients:
For the Crust
6 oz. all-purpose flour (I do almost all of my baking by weight, but if you don't have a scale, this is about 1 1/3 US cups), plus additional flour for dusting
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 oz. cold water
1 1/2 oz. vodka
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
For the Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs
1 cup maple syrup
2 cups pecans, roughly chopped
Be sure to use real maple syrup for this pie, and not "maple-flavored syrup" or "pancake syrup". If you can find the darker "Grade B" maple syrup, it has a much more pronounced maple flavor, so use it! It seems to be a little easier to find in supermarkets these days (usually in the natural foods section), but I'm close enough to the maple-producing regions of New England that I may just be lucky.
Your pecans should be relatively fresh, too, since the oils in the nut go rancid over time. Storing unused nuts in the freezer helps prevent this.
Along with measuring cups and spoons, these instructions call for:
* a food processor fitted with a metal blade
* a mixing bowl
* a wooden spoon
* a medium saucepan
* a heatproof bowl that fits inside the saucepan (to make a double-boiler)
* a whisk
* a 9" pie plate
* a paring knife or kitchen shears
* plastic wrap
* a rolling pin
* a sheet of parchment paper, about 12"x12"
* pie weights or a 1 lb. bag of small, dried beans
A kitchen scale and instant-read thermometer are nice to have, but you can live without them.
If you want to decorate the pie with the first few digits of π as I've done here (and why wouldn't you?), a set of small number-shape cookie cutters is very helpful. The set I have is sold for cutting fondant cake frosting, but works just fine with pie crust.