New Hampshire Pie: For this pumpkin-loving state, I had to make something truly special. My friend Heather runs Middle Branch Farm in New Boston, and once sent me the best maple syrup I have ever had, so I knew I had to infuse the pumpkin pie with a little bit of that maple flavor. The white birch, native to New Hampshire and the state tree, graces the wooded slopes along the borders of lakes and streams and is a staple of the postcard-perfect scenery in the state. I wanted to capture this tree’s beauty in a pie crust with details painted in strong espresso. For the birch tree crust design template, click here.
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup ice
Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl with a flat bottom. Add the butter pieces on top of the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, toss the butter in the dry mixture so each cube is coated. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to cut or rub the butter into the mixture until it is in pieces a bit larger than peas (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to over-blend). You want to be able to make big butter chunks in your crust: It helps create a flaky effect, as well as adding delicious buttery hits of flavor.
In a separate large measuring cup or small bowl, combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture; do not add the ice, which is just there to keep your water cold. Using your hands in a circular motion, bring the mixture together until all the liquid is incorporated. Continue adding the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Carefully mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until it comes into one mass; you don’t want to overwork it.
Shape the dough into a flat disc (first separate the dough into two equal portions), wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight before using.
Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the fridge.
Maple Pumpkin Pie with Painted Birch Tree Crust
- X-Acto knife to cut birch tree design (see template above)
- Instant espresso (for painting details)
- All-Butter Crust-Double (see above), one for bottom of pie, rolled out, fit into a 10-inch pie pan, and crimped, one for birch tree crust design
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 (15-ounce) can (1-7/8 cups) pumpkin (preferably Libby’s brand)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Make the Filling:
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, gently bring the maple syrup to a boil. Turn the heat off and let the maple syrup cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cooled maple syrup, pumpkin, cream, milk, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Set aside until ready to fill the pie.
Assemble And Bake the Pie:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the prepared crust on a baking sheet and pour the filling into the crust. Bake on the center rack for 1 hour, until the filling is set but has a slight jiggle. Cool completely.
Make the Birch Tree Decorations:
- While the pie is cooling, use the birch tree template to cut trees out of rolled-out top crust. Place the cut-out trees onto a flour-dusted baking sheet. Mix 2 teaspoons ground instant espresso with 1 tablespoon water and use a clean paintbrush to paint on birch tree details. Freeze the finished trees for 20 minutes. Bake in the 375°F oven, rotating 180 degrees halfway through, for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Finish the Pie:
- Place the birch trees on the cooled pie. Enjoy with whipped cream and a view of the White Mountains!