Perfect slice

Celebrate Pumpkin Pie Day with a homemade pie.
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Photo by Stacy Feyer-Salo

Pumpkin pie is traditionally thought of as a Thanksgiving staple, but December still is a great time to indulge in this classic comfort food — in fact, Dec. 25 is National Pumpkin Pie Day.

Amanda Narvaes, an attorney with Drew, Cooper & Anding, likes to bake this pie from scratch for her family, using a sugar pumpkin purchased from the local farmers market. The recipe is adapted from food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman’s pumpkin pie recipe.

Ingredients
1 pie crust (see Narvaes’ homemade pie crust recipe below)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups fresh (or canned) pumpkin puree (unsweetened and unspiced)
1 cup half-and-half, cream or milk

For crust
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
3 tablespoons cold water, plus more if necessary

Crust directions
Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.

Put the mixture in a bowl and add the cold water; mix with a rubber spatula until you can almost form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and dough becomes wet, add a little more flour). Form into a disc with your hands, wrap in plastic and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle a clean countertop with flour, put the dough on it and sprinkle the top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure from the center out. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky, and it’s taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again). Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.

When the diameter of the dough is about 2 inches greater than your pie plate, drape the dough over the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Press the dough firmly into the plate all over. Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers.

Prick the dough with a fork in a few places. Cover the pie with a piece of foil, lightly sprayed with oil. Use pie weights to weigh down the foil, then bake the pie crust for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and remove the foil and pie weights. Return the pie crust to the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Preparation
While the crust is baking, use a whisk to beat the eggs with the sugar, then add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add the pumpkin puree, mix, then add the half and half.

Put the pie plate with the baked crust on a baking sheet. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust all the way to the top (you might have some left over).

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the mixture shakes like Jell-O but is no longer liquid in the center.

Cool on a rack, then slice into wedges and serve, or refrigerate for up to two days.

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