Four Seasons unveils Pumpkin and Pecan Pie recipes for at-home holidays

In solidarity with Gaza and as celebrations are canceled this year for the holidays, FS offers ways to create a taste at home

Four Seasons unveils Pumpkin and Pecan Pie recipes for at-home holidays 0012
(Photos: Zeid Odeh, Sarah Shabbar, Jordan News)
As 2023 draws to a close, the region faces an unfortunate conclusion as Israel’s war on Gaza rages on. Though our spirits may not be as festive, it does provide an opportunity to reflect on the holidays – to extend prayers and thoughts to our brothers and sisters in Gaza. Keeping this perspective in mind, this year’s collaboration with Four Seasons Amman took on a different tone. اضافة اعلان

As Jordan’s churches cancel Christmas celebrations, and as the Jordanian Artists Association suspends New Year’s Eve celebrations, this is a small sacrifice compared with what our neighbors are going through, being all the more mindful of at-home gatherings with family, to ensure that we are aligned with what is being asked of our solidarity.

If you are not familiar with it, the Four Seasons Amman usually has a festive menu that can be ordered for the holidays, consisting of a centerpiece main course protein, with lots of sides, sauces, and dessert. I have had the experience of trying out this set menu in previous years and it is both delicious and filling for the entire gathering.

However, this year the Four Seasons decided to invite, Senior Editor of Jordan News Sarah Shabbar and myself into its kitchens with pastry Chef Anas Al Qusairi to try and make two of its signature pies, which can easily be replicated at home, and we could not leave without snagging the recipe.

So, this year, we are gifting two recipes from FS signature pastries: Pecan and Pumpkin Pie. With my kitchen experience throughout the years and Sarah's high spirits and concerning knife skills, we put on our chef's hats and began the journey, is it as easy as it seems to replicate at home?

I am sure anyone will think twice before deciding to bake a pie themselves versus having it store-bought. However, there is a certain satisfying joy in the sweet buttery smell coming out of the oven that would make you feel like you are on top of the world and you have your life together right before being bombarded with personal questions at the family table.

Let us start with the crust
1.5 cups of flour
1 stick of cold butter cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
1.5 tablespoons of ice-cold water
1 teaspoon of salt

The secret is in the crust for every pie ever made, the crust should always be flakey, buttery, and not overly sweet to overpower the flavor of the filling. The crust is mainly made from 3 to 4 ingredients and requires some arm strength to get it all together.

First things first, make sure that the butter in this recipe is cold and cut into cubes. After mixing the flour with a pinch of salt, the eggs and butter are added gradually and mixed by hand until it become a crumbling texture. We are not trying to activate the gluten at this stage because we do not want a dough texture, we are looking for the flaky aspect of the dough. Adding the eggs can help with the color after baking as well as a combing agent for the dough. The salt is added to elevate the flavor of butter. Salt elevates the flavors and brings them to life. Finally, the iced cold water is added to bring everything together, just make sure not to over-knead the dough

If you are not at all into the whole using some arm strength for this step, I usually just place the ingredients into a food processor and pulse it a few times until it all crumbles, then I add the cold water until it combines everything.

Bring the dough together into a round shape, flatten it slightly, cover the whole thing with plastic wrap, and let it chill in the fridge until the butter cools down and hardens again. This is a very crucial step in the pie-making process. Otherwise, the dough will fall apart with baking and won’t hold the shape of the mold. Let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before working with it.

For the baking part, take out the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface place the dough and use a roller to roll out the desired shape of the dough to cover the pie mold. Make sure that the thickness of the dough is 3 millimeters in thickness. Not too thick, not too thin. Gently transfer it to the mold and press the corners inside, go around the rim to ensure that the dough fills every curve. Finally, cut off all the excess dough from the rim.

Now for blind baking, which means baking the pie while it is empty to ensure the flakiness of the pie. In this step place butter paper (or wax paper) on the pie dough and place dried beans on top. You can use chickpeas, fava beans, or even uncooked rice. This step is crucial to not have the dough rise and to hold its shape. Bake at 180 C for about 30 minutes until it is cooked.

Pumpkin Pie
4 kilos of pumpkin puree (We would like to point out that Chef Anas uses local pumpkin, which is not as sweet, but in his words “store-bought pumpkin puree is not good.” So, make sure you buy a local pumpkin, and then do it the Jordanian way and use the seeds too.
300 Grams of evaporated milk
10 Grams of heavy cream
130 Grams of brown sugar
3 eggs
2 grams of salt
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg powder
¼ teaspoon of ginger powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

For the Pumpkin Pie, Chef Anas used freshly roasted pumpkins that were cut into big pieces and placed in the oven for around 45 to an hour until they were fully cooked. We had the debate whether the canned pumpkins can be used as well, and even though this step seems a bit tedious it does make a difference in the overall produce. However, if you do choose to use canned pumpkins, I suggest cooking them up a bit in a pot just to remove that tin flavor they might have then carry on with the recipe.

Mash the pumpkins using a stick blender or the food processor until you get a thick puree texture, then measure and use in this recipe. Or you can just place all the items together in a pot and use a blender to combine all the ingredients.

Place the mixture slowly on top of the cooked crust and bake again at 150 C for around 40 minutes. Chef Anas suggests that placing the pumpkin filling mixture inside the oven, while being careful not to burn yourself, can ensure that the puree is filled to the top of the pie without making a mess during the transfer.

If pumpkin pie is not your cup of tea and want to try something a bit different, Chef Anas suggests his version of the Pecan Pie.

Pecan Pie
4 Eggs
¾ cup Sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup margarine (or butter, melted)
¼ cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon Salt
1 cup pecan (coarsely chopped)

In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the pecans, until well combined. Then add the pecans towards the end. Chef Anas suggests here that you should leave whole pecans to place them on top of the mixture towards the end to make the pie look more presentable.

Place the mixture in the prebaked mold place the whole pecans on top in a circular shape (use your creativity here), and bake in the oven at 160 C for 35 minutes until it is fully cooked.

Make sure to let the pies completely cool down before you start garnishing or serving. If you want to take a further step you can use some marshmallow fluff that can be store-bought, or make whipped cream to place gallops on top. Chef Anas used some Mascarpone cream to garnish his pies and used what was left of the pie crust, cut it into different shapes, and baked them to use them also for his garnish. Finally, sprinkle some icing sugar on both pies to give an extra touch to the pies.

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