Photos by Caitlin Abrams
There's a secret among the Twin Cities pie illuminati, and we're about to ruin it: The best local pumpkin pie doesn't come from a bakery or pie shop. It comes from Keen Eye Coffee, a culinarily inclined coffee shop with benefits (house-made soups, breakfast burritos, and baked goods) in the Standish neighborhood.
The coffee at this humble South Minneapolis gem definitely ain't bad. Its pie, though—specifically the flaky-crusted, maple-tinged pumpkin—is, if not to die for, then to get seriously maimed for. Caleb Erickson, Keen Eye's baker, says the keys to making a crust to impress your holiday guests are patience, practice, and resilience. "There is no way to magically get better at making dough," Erickson says. "You just need to do it, make mistakes, learn, and get comfortable with the process." That said, here are some of his tips for mastering Keen Eye's perfect crust. Spoiler alert: There is vodka involved.
Butter adds flavor, and shortening adds flakiness: Experiment with different ratios to find your perfect dough. Erickson finds that this recipe’s ratio is perfect for him.
Large chunks of butter are not good: In the oven, they will bake off and leave holes in your dough. Before adding your liquid, stir through your dough to make sure the fat is pea-sized.
Before rolling dough, leave it out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes: This will make it easier to roll. If you get to a point where your dough is just not rolling itself out like it should, let it relax for two to three minutes and come back to it. "Just relax and so will your dough," says Erickson.
Relax: If you have a rip in your dough or a hole, he says. "This can be fixed. Cut some dough from the outside of the dough, wet it slightly and use it to patch your problem. Put flour over it. And continue as if it never happened.”
Flour liberally: Constantly lift it up and re-flour underneath. Flour your rolling pin, too.
Properly loosen from your surface: Run a knife under rolled dough to make sure it is loosened from your surface. (Erickson recommends a long bread or serrated knife, but there are special “bench” knives and dough scrapers, too.) Wrap/roll the dough onto your rolling pin, then roll on to the pie plate.
Be gentle, then firm: Gently press your dough into the bottom of the pan. After you crimp, firmly press it against the sides of the pan. This practice, along with pricking the bottom, will help it not slouch when you bake.
It's best to use dough within three days, Erickson says, but once wrapped, it can be frozen up to a month. Move the dough to the fridge a day before you want to use it or leave it out at room temp until it's soft enough to roll out. Oh, and don't forget Erickson's most important tip, which is especially relevant this time of year: "Always bake with love. It makes everything taste better." True that!
Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Slice of pumpkin pie from Keen Eye Coffee
Keen Eye Coffee’s Pie Crust
Makes 2 single crusts or 1 double crust (top and bottom)
12 Tbsp. (6 oz.) cold unsalted butter
8 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
2 ½ cups (12½ oz.) all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup vodka that's been stored in the freezer
¼ cup ice water
- Sift and combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add vegetable shortening and mix for 30 seconds on low. Add butter and mix until broken into pea-sized clumps.
- Combine vodka and water (straining out ice cubes). With mixer running slowly, add liquid until dough forms. Be careful not to over-mix, but make sure there are no patches of dry ingredients lingering. (It's better to under-mix and knead with hands to finish.)
- Divide dough in half and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling it out.
- To partially bake the crust—so you can just fill and bake later: Take dough out of fridge and leave out for 10 minutes before you start rolling.
- Roll dough into a 12-inch circle and transfer to a pie plate. Ease the dough into the plate by lifting up on the edge and pressing into plate bottom with the other hand. Let excess dough hang over the outside edge.
- Trim the overhang to about an inch around, and fold it under itself. Crimp dough. Prick the bottom layer of dough; this helps it lock into place. Put dough in fridge for 30 minutes and preheat your oven to 425°.
- Line dough with a layer of aluminum foil and add pie weights (Erickson says you can use beans or lentils for this).
- Bake for 15 minutes. Take out weights and aluminum foil, and return to oven for 4-7 minutes until it is light golden brown.
+ Pairings from Surdyk’s
We asked the experts at Surdyk’s for dessert wines to complement holiday pies. Here’s what they recommend:
Pairing #1: Pacific Rim Vin de Glaciere Riesling (for fruit fillings)
This ice wine is made from frozen, organic Riesling grapes from Washington State. This honeyed, golden nectar will pair well with fruit-based pies like apple.
Pairing #2: Warres’s Otima 10-year Tawny Port (for pecan or pumpkin fillings)
Tawny ports are excellent dessert wines, showcasing notes of roasted nuts, butterscotch, dried fruit, honey, and vanilla. Classic pecan pie will mirror many of these flavor notes, while the sweet spice found in pumpkin pie will be highlighted.