Thanksgiving, like many holidays, involves a grand feast that centres mostly around animal-based products. Even though I do eat eggs and a bit of dairy, I think it’s nice to lighten up this traditionally heavy meal with some plant-based additions. While I definitely prefer working with butter when making pastry my poor stomach prefers a non-dairy option, so I decided to go for a coconut oil pie crust. I follow the same method as my regular pie dough, which you can find full instructions for here. Removing dairy and eggs doesn’t mean you’re destined for boring, bland Thanksgiving desserts. I swear.
One of my goals for this winter (is it too early for me to say that??) is to work on my pastry game. I want to improve both my coconut oil and butter pie doughs, and just practice making pies and such more often so the whole process becomes second nature. I often second guess myself and just want to know ratios and cook times without looking at a recipe (basically I just want to be Tara Jensen/Erin McDowell/Martha Stewart). I know that summer is supposed to be high pie time and all with the bounty of fresh local fruit, but when it’s 30 degrees and humid no part of me wants to be stressing out about making a pie!
I’m also determined to get on the laminated dough train. I’m currently practicing a pretty straightforward croissant recipe, but I’d eventually like to move towards a more whole grain and sourdough version. Plus, once you nail the technique of laminating, there are a million ways to use it (danishes! cruffins! pain au chocolat! kouign amann!).
five spice pumpkin pie with spelt crust (vegan)
2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup cashews + 1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons five spice (or just use cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, solid
3-4 tablespoons ice water
The night before: make your pie dough, and soak the cashews in cool water (you can follow the method for pie dough here).
Take the dough out of the fridge, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (I find coconut oil dough is more prone to cracking than a butter dough if it’s too cold). Roll out to 1/8 inch thick, then gently place into a 9 inch pie plate. Place it back in the fridge for 10 minutes to relax. Take it out of the fridge, gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan, then trim the edges and tuck them under so it’s smooth all the way around. Crimp as you please! Dock the bottom with a fork a few times, then place in the freezer while the oven preheats.
Preheat oven to 425F. Line the crust with foil or parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the pie weights and bake for another 2-3 minutes to dry out the bottom a bit. Reduce the oven to 350F, and allow the crust to cool while you prepare the filling.
Drain the cashews, then blend them with 1 cup of water in a high speed blender until smooth, then add the remaining ingredients and blend until really smooth. Pour into the crust and smooth out, and brush the crust with an egg wash if that’s your jam. Then place on the bottom rack and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
I don’t own pie weights. I have a jar with about three cups of dried chickpeas/lentils and just re-use those anytime I need to blind-bake a pie, and they work just fine.