Last weekend, we attended the wedding of some good friends of ours — with the most well-organized potluck reception I’ve ever experienced. We brought pie to feed 64.
Rachel and Adrian put their stamp all over their charming outdoor wedding, including inviting their community to participate by bringing the food. We all got great instructions about what kind of dish to bring and how many it should feed. Rachel and I had talked early on about my bringing a couple of pies, and she lit up when I mentioned some Martha Stewart slab pies I’d read about. They would definitely feed a crowd!
I spent some time mulling over the filling possibilities — fruit? chocolate? hmm, something fall-ish? — and landed on this Hoosier Pie recipe from Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life (another great read I’m recommending highly these days).
Photo: I wish we could show you a picture of the finished pie, but this is all that survived.
Molly’s Hoosier Pie is a yummy, gooey pecan pie with chocolate and bourbon — just the thing for a fall wedding. But there was the “slab” element to consider, and in light of the fact that I had never baked this pie before, even in its normal, round form, we needed a trial. So a week prior to the wedding, I baked up an experimental pie, served a few pieces to the family, and sent it over to North Park with Jon. (His colleagues are so nice about being my guinea pigs!) I was glad to have run the test, especially after wrestling with this new pie crust recipe. If you ask, the girls might tell you about my strange habit of exclaiming “come on!” to uncooperative baked goods. By the time I made the third pie, the recipe felt just right — and I offer it to you here. (If you’re not in need of the giant slab pie, see farther down for the original, normal-sized pie recipe, too.)
Pecan Slab Pie with Chocolate and Bourbon
Deb from Smitten Kitchen says that a slab pie is basically 150% of the crust (of a regular pie) and 100% of the fruit filling. I started with these proportions, but I felt I needed to increase them for this pecan pie. We ended up at 200% of the crust and 150% of the filling. Yum.
I wanted to try Molly Wizenberg’s crust for this pie, especially since it is the only pecan pie recipe I’ve seen that doesn’t require you to blind bake the crust. But I’m not totally sold on it. Next time, I’ll probably try my go-to crust recipe instead.
for the crust
8 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 sticks + 2 tablespoons (9 oz) cold butter, cut into cubes
for the filling
6 tablespoons (3 oz) butter, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 1/8 cups light corn syrup
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons bourbon (we like Maker’s Mark)
¾ cup chocolate chips
2 cups (or maybe even a bit more) pecan halves
Make the pie crust
Mix ice water and cider vinegar together; set aside.
I’ve been converted to food processor pie crusts, even though I fear for my fingers every time I pick up that frightening blade. That said, I’m sure you can do this just as well with a regular old pastry cutter. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the food processor, and pulse to blend. Add the butter (all at once, and I can tell that you from experience) and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal (who says that? all the pie crust recipes say that. What exactly is coarse meal?). Drizzle in the water-vinegar and process until moist clumps form. You might want to add a tiny bit more water, one teaspoon at a time.
If you’re like me, at this point you’ll have a mass of pie dough that looks a little wetter and stickier than you’re used to. That’s okay. Turn it out onto a clean work surface, pull it into a ball, and plop it onto a big piece of plastic wrap. Wrap it up and then flatten it into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Molly says you can freeze it, too, just defrost overnight.)
Shape the pie crust
Take the dough out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to roll. When it’s go-time, put on an apron, get a glass of water, and shake out all the kinks in your shoulders. It’s going to be fine.
Preheat the oven to 375Â°F.
Get out your 10½ × 15½ × 1 jelly roll pan (it’s a little deeper than a regular cookie sheet, which is important). Cut a piece of parchment that is the size of the bottom of the pan.
You’re going to need a pretty big surface to roll out the dough — cutting board or counter. Dust it generously with flour. (This crust will happily absorb a lot of flour.) Start rolling out the dough, using your flour liberally, and moving in the direction of a jelly-roll-pan-shaped-rectangle. Every once in awhile, flip the crust over to make sure it is not sticking. When the crust starts to feel a little unwieldy, put the parchment down underneath the dough and keep rolling it out. You’ll want the crust to end up bigger than that parchment — about an inch or more around all the sides. Don’t worry if some sides are bigger than others — you’ll end up patching it and working out all the problems.
When your dough is the right size, roll it up on your rolling pin, keeping the parchment stuck on the bottom. (Think “roll of paper towels.”) Unroll it into the jelly roll pan and flatten the bottom. Now you’ll need to shape the sides a bit — I did a fluted edge around the whole thing, but you could probably press the edge with a fork, too. If there are some sections that are thinner or shallower than others, just patch in some extra dough. When you’re satisfied with the way it looks, pop it back in the fridge.
Make the filling
In a stand mixer (or just in a bowl with a wooden spoon, if you like), cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. (Do you know this trick for measuring corn syrup? Spray your measuring cup with cooking oil spray before measuring it — it will pour out easily.) Beat in the bourbon. The batter should be pale yellow and fairly thin.
Remove the pie crust from the fridge. Scatter the pecans and chocolate chips all over the base of the crust, then pour the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for about 40 minutes (start checking after 35). The filling will puff a bit in the oven. The pie is ready when the edges are firm, the top is deep brown, and the center jiggles just a little bit. Cool the pie completely on a rack.
Molly Wizenberg says this pie is great with whipped cream, and I bet she is right.
The slab pie will yield 16 large rectangular slices, or 32 square bar-type pieces. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the pie will keep at room temperature for three days.
Hoosier Pie (original recipe)
It is highly likely that many of you might not be interested in making a slab pie, and would prefer to make a normal-sized pie. Frankly, I’ll probably do that next time. I’m giving the ingredient proportions here from the original recipe, using a 9 or 9 ½ inch pie plate. You can follow the instructions above for assembly, although you won’t need to go through all the parchment paper rigamarole for the crust.
for the crust
4 T ice water, plus more as needed
¾ t apple cider vinegar
1½ c flour
1 T sugar
¾ t salt
1 stick + 1 T (4½ oz) cold butter, cut into cubes
for the filling
3 T (2 oz) butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
¾ c light corn syrup
1 t vanilla extract
¼ t salt
2 T bourbon (we like Maker’s Mark)
½ c chocolate chips
1 c (or maybe even a bit more) pecan halves