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Pumpkin-Apple Butter Pie

I've noted before that I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, usually preferring to make pumpkin cheesecake for my quota of pumpkin-themed Thanksgiving desserts. This delicious recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Baking magazine might make me change my mind, however. The combination of apple butter and a nutty streusel topping makes this an excellent variation of the standard, boring pumpkin pie.

The presentation is especially lovely; the recipe calls for the cook to cut out small leaf or star shapes and place them around the edge of the pie plate, atop the edge of the bottom crust. I have a set of small (about 1- to 2-inch) leaf cutters, and thought that this would be an excellent chance to use them. The finished pie, with its wreath of glazed golden pastry leaves, looked perfect for fall. If you don't have leaf cutters, stars or hearts would also look nice.

The Nut Pastry was easy to work with and baked up nice and flaky. The only change I've made to the recipe is in the use of foil to protect the edges of the pie from overbrowning. The original recipe calls for the cook to cover the pastry before putting it in the oven, and then to remove the foil after about 20 minutes. If you do this, your raw pastry shapes could stick to the foil. I've reversed the order: first, bake the pie for about 20 minutes so that the pastry firms up; then cover the edge with foil to protect it from further browning. If the pastry shapes don't get golden in the first 35 to 40 minutes of baking, remove the foil when you add the streusel topping so that they get nicely browned.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes
Yield: about 12 servings

Nut Pastry (recipe below)
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
Granulated sugar

15-oz. can pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie plate with a Nut Pastry circle. Trim pastry to edge of pie plate. Roll the other half of the Nut Pastry dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Use small (about 1- to 2-inch size) cookie cutters or a sharp knife to make leaves or other shapes. In a small bowl, beat the 1 egg with the 1 Tbsp of water. Brush the edge of the pastry in the pie plate. Arrange the pastry shapes around the edge of the pie, overlapping slightly (pastry will shrink as it bakes). Brush shapes with egg mixture, and sprinkle with sugar. Set aside.

For the filling: In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, the 1/2 cup brown sugar, the apple butter, the spices, and the salt. Add the 2 eggs and the egg yolk and beat until just combined. Gradually add the whipping cream; stir until combined. Pour the filling into the pie plate.

Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and wrap foil around the edge of the pan to protect the pastry shapes from overbrowning. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 15 more minutes. Meanwhile, make the streusel: combine the nuts, butter, flour, and the 2 Tbsp brown sugar. Sprinkle this mixture over the pie, and bake for about 10 to 15 more minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center of the pie comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack. Serve, or cover and chill within 2 hours. The pie can be made the day before Thanksgiving. If it's been refrigerated, let the pie sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Delicious with sweetened whipped cream.

Nut Pastry
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup finely-ground pecans or walnuts
8 to 10 Tbsp cold water

In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-sized. Stir in the ground nuts. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the cold water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough aside in the bowl. Repeat, using 1 Tbsp of water at a time, until all of the flour mixture is moistened. Form dough into a ball with your hands, and divide the ball in half. Form each half into a disk.

Roll one disk into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Wrap the circle gently over the rolling pin, and then unroll it into the 9-inch pie plate. Use the remaining dough as directed in the pie recipe, above.



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