Posted On: 11/08/2016
This Thanksgiving, I will not sit at the kids’ table for the 44th year in a row. I will stride past cousins gulping riesling from The Flintstones jam jars and take my rightful place among Pinterest-inspired decorations donning the main table. This year, I am earning my adult credentials by making a homemade pie. Seriously homemade, as in even the crust is from scratch. Pull up a non-folding chair next to me, because it turns out vegan pumpkin pie is a breeze to make.
Traditional crust is made by cutting butter or shortening into flour using a pastry blender, which I apparently don’t own. Instead, I pulsed some flour, fat, cinnamon and soy milk in a food processor and made the world’s easiest dough in seconds. I tested multiple combinations of vegan fats and found that using equal parts coconut oil and Earth Balance buttery sticks produced a tender and tasty crust with no coconut aftertaste. Make sure your coconut oil is solid, yet scoopable – not rock hard from the refrigerator.
Crust recipes usually suggest chilling pie dough at least three hours to solidify the fat. The cold fat melts during baking, leaving air pockets that create light and flaky layers in the crust. But in this recipe, chilling the dough is strictly optional. My cooled crust was only marginally flakier than my room-temperature crust, and it may not be worth the extra time. Also, unlike traditional crusts, there’s no need to par-bake (baker slang for “partially bake”) or dock (poke holes with a fork) the crust before adding pie filling.
My initial test filling of pumpkin puree, soy milk, coconut palm sugar and spices tasted delicious when baked in my heirloom extra-deep pie pan, but the filling’s texture was more gummy than airy. I switched out the soy milk for coconut cream, the rich, gently sweet solid at the top of a can of coconut milk. (Pro tip: You can buy full cans of the stuff at most major grocery stores.) There also wasn’t enough filling; my puny pie showed more than an inch of exposed (burned) crust. I considered making more, but then I would be stuck with unused pumpkin puree. The solution was a smaller pie pan. A $7 9-inch glass pie pan was the perfect size. If you must show off your fancy deep-dish pie pan, increase the filling ingredients by half and add 10 minutes to the baking time. Then you can brag to everyone at the big table about your grown-up command of math.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
1 9-inch pie
1½ cups flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, cubed
¼ cup solid organic coconut oil
3 Tbsp. maple syrup, divided
1¼ tsp. cinnamon, divided
¾ tsp. table salt, divided
5 Tbsp. cold unsweetened vanilla soy milk
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 14-oz. can chilled coconut cream, divided
½ cup coconut palm sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1∕8 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the work surface and rolling pin with flour.
• In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade, add the flour, buttery sticks, coconut oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse 10 to 15 times, until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the soy milk 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing once after each addition.
• Transfer the dough to the floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Roll the dough into a ¼-inch thick disc slightly larger than the pie plate, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan, pressing against the edges and pinching the top of the dough between your fingers and thumb to flute the crust. Remove and discard any overhanging crust. Set aside.
• In a blender, combine the pumpkin, ½ cup coconut cream, the palm sugar, cornstarch, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon salt; blend on low speed 2 to 3 seconds, until fully combined.
• Pour the pumpkin mixture into the prepared crust and bake 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
• Meanwhile, make the whipped topping by refrigerating a metal mixing bowl and the beater attachment of an electric mixer at least 1 hour. In the chilled bowl, add the remaining coconut cream, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix on low speed a few seconds, just until the mixture is fluffy. Dollop the whipped topping onto the pie before serving.
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