Maybe you have a great pumpkin pie recipe, one you pull out when the weather starts getting cold every year. Maybe it's the one on the back of the can, or maybe it's scrawled on a decades-old recipe card. Regardless, for years, you've likely overlooked one crucial part of your pie game: The crust.
Let Dominique Ansel, the chef who upended both American and French ideas about pastry (remember the Cronut?), show you a thing or two about pie dough. At Dominique Ansel Kitchen, along with his head pastry chef Karys Logue, Ansel has been tinkering with pie. More than this, he's developed a whole new way of thinking about pie crust. His gingerbread pie dough produces a richly seasoned, deeply hued cooki1e-like crust that could not be easier, and begs to be filled with your favorite pumpkin, sweet potato, or Kabocha squash custard filling. Ansel likes to finish his pumpkin pie either with whipped cream or toasted marshmallow meringue. Is he mad? Is he brilliant? Sometimes it's a bit of both qualities that yields the most innovative recipes.
This recipe produces enough for two single crust pies; halve it if you only want to bake one pie, or freeze the extra dough for later. The recipe also instructs you to par-bake the crust. This ensures your crust is crisp and not soggy after you fill it with your choice of custard or fruit. Don’t care for pumpkin pie? Consider filling this crust with a cheesecake custard, a cranberry-pear filling, or even chocolate mousse.
Gingerbread Pie Crust
(Makes 2 pie crusts)
½ cup plus 1 tbsp light brown sugar
2/3 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1¾ cups AP flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch Maldon sea salt
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. While continuing to mix, stream in lemon juice, followed by milk and vanilla, until evenly combined.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, grated ginger, cornstarch and salt until combined. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add in one-third of the dry ingredient mixture until evenly combined. Repeat with the next third of the dry ingredients, then the final third.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and transfer the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a rectangle no more than ½ inch thick, wrap in the plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Divide the dough in half (this recipe yields two pie crusts, so you can keep one half wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 14-inch round. Transfer to a pie tin, gently pressing down into the corners and up the sides. Trim away excess dough using a paring knife, leaving a 1-inch overhang around the edge. Fold the edges under, then form a fluted edge around the rim with your fingers. Lightly dock the bottom surface of the dough with a fork. Chill or freeze the pie shell in the pie pan until ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line the pie shell with a coffee filter and fill with rice or dried beans to blind bake the crust. Bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes, until the bottom of the pie crust is just lightly baked.
Remove from oven and discard the coffee filter and rice/beans. Return the crust to the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 4 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.