Never argue dessert with homemade pie. Blue frosted birthday cake or a cafeteria cookie are usually worth standing up to, and Hostess Twinkies need not a glance. But lovingly prepared pie? It deserves your respect.
The time spent alone is worth your caloric real estate-
Recipe box referenced.
Dough blended, chilled, and rolled.
Filling selected, prepped, and seasoned.
Baked for one hour.
Cooled even longer.
This pie has really worked for you, so to this, please, never say no.
But many people dread the transition to the winter sugar season that is ushered in by the big turkey roast every last Thursday in November. For all we look forward to- the time worn recipes and their updated modern contenders- we know what lies on the other side of January 1. It’s all tight pants and regretful resolutions come the new year. So, how can we make it through the season of glut without turning ourselves into our own stuffed birds?
Appetite is a yearning for food that we experience through hunger. It is a physiological sensation experienced in real time resulting from signals in your brain’s hypothalamus. The desire to eat is held in check by your central nervous system working in concert with the brain and peripheral organs like your stomach, pancreas, and liver. And when one considers the cornucopia of hormones and enzymes involved you can begin to realize there is quite a bit going on when you hit the dessert buffet.
With all this seemingly perfect metabolic regulation where has our contemporary appetite gone array? As a society we are thicker and sicker than ever before. Type II diabetes is a disease marked by excessive weight, and the numbers of diagnosed are reaching epidemic. According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control in 2012, between 1995-2010 there was a 50% increase in diabetes diagnosis in 48 states and a 100% increase 18 states. Over the course of (a very recent) fifteen years the population of one third of American states reported a doubling of diabetes diagnosis. The human genome simply cannot recode itself fast enough to take credit for this trend, and more and more research points to what’s piling up on our plates.
I’ll let you digest those facts for a second.
We have more food but enjoy it less. Our society is literally stuffed. If there was ever an argument for reconditioning our national appetite I believe it’s just been made, and one of the first places we can start regaining traction is with social food rules. As a nation, not only do we sip and snack in abundance we also often do it alone. The excess of calories in our midst signals to our psyches that constant consumption is right and good, and few people can even go two hours without replenishing their moveable feast.
There is an important cause for getting hungry; for allowing the stomach to empty, metabolism to do its job, and satiety to reach homeostasis. I’m talking about appetite promotion here, not fasting or starvation. Working to create that moment where you can eat and be truly satisfied. But let’s not kid ourselves. If the conversation was as easy as willpower we might all just limit ourselves to one meager glass of wine, skip dessert, and go home to an early bedtime. There is a lot more defining when, what, and how we eat than simple restraint. These strong metabolic cues are programmed over decades of living in our bodies. Every indulgence, every fad diet, and every treadmill sprint (or lack there of) is accounted for, and our bodies respond to these sculpted environmental cues accordingly.
Perhaps the best thing we can do at this moment for our society is resurrect the dietary rules and consumption guidelines that governed our social meals and solo diets for generations.
Perhaps the best thing we can do is skip the snack and save room for dessert. Simple as pie.
Simple as (Pumpkin) Pie Recipe
I almost always make whole grain crusts because I am hard wired for health food. Not to say I can’t enjoy a white crust here and there. If that’s your thing, feel free to substitute half, or all the whole wheat pastry flour for unbleached white flour.
And I’ll go on record saying I believe glass pie plates and french rolling pins are superior choices (and the least expensive in their class).
Lastly, vanilla bean paste is the blue ribbon contender between scraping a bean and using the cloying pervasive extract, and crust shields are a pie bakers best friend.
For the crust:
- whole wheat pastry flour, 1&1/4 cup
- butter, unsalted, cubed and chilled, 1 cup
- salt, (sea salt preferably) 1/2 tsp
- sugar, just a pinch
- water, iced, 3-4 tbsp
-Add flour, butter, salt, and sugar to a food processor and pulse until a granulated texture is reached (not so long that it blends into a soft butter mush).
-While continuing to pulse, add water a few drops at time until the dough comes together in a ball.
-Transfer dough to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
-Lightly butter a pie plate and set aside.
-After dough has chilled flatten the ball onto a sterilized, floured countertop. Roll in a circle to desired thickness (I always go for as thin as I feel confident enough to roll that day) and transfer to pie plate.
-Trim the edges, and crimp the crust by pinching with your thumb and forefinger at evenly spaced intervals.
-Set aside and wait for the filling.
For the filling:
- eggs, 2 large
- heavy cream, 1 cup
- pumpkin, (1) 15oz can
- sugar, 1/2 cup
- cinnamon, ground, 1 tsp
- ginger, ground, 1/2 tsp
- orange peel, ground, 1/4 tsp
- cloves, ground, 1/4 tsp
- allspice, ground, 1/4 tsp
- vanilla bean paste (or extract if that’s your option), 1/2 tsp
- salt, 1/2 tsp
-Heat the oven to 350F.
-Whisk together all the filling ingredients until smooth and the spices are well distributed.
-Pour filling into crust.
-Place a pre-made crust shield on the crust edges or make your own by sculpting aluminum foil over the edges.
-Bake for 50-55 minutes or until firm in the center.
-Allow to cool for a couple hours before serving.