Three Simple & Classic Thanksgiving desserts

Let the British cook Jane Hornby walk through these tasty, timely treats, from her book, Simple & Classic
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Pumpkin Pie, from Simple & Classic by Jane Hornby
Pumpkin Pie, from Simple & Classic by Jane Hornby

Jane Hornby is one of the few English chefs to have cooked a Thanksgiving Dinner. Back in 2013, a friend visited from New York and, not wanting her US buddy to miss out, Hornby prepared a full turkey meal, with all the trimmings. In fact, her new book, Simple & Classic, reproduces quite a few failsafe recipes well-suited to the US holiday, including pecan cranberry pie, sticky pear and pecan toffee cake, and, of course pumpkin pie.

 

Pecan cranberry pie
Pecan cranberry pie

You can get the full guides to making these wonderful dishes in Simple & Classic, as well as a few of Hornby’s failsafe tips – e.g. “don’t worry if your dough tears before cooking, just press it back together. If cracks or holes appear after cooking, dampen a small piece of leftover dough and smooth it over carefully”. However, her pumpkin pie recipe, just in time for the big day. Here's what you'll need...

 

Sticky pear and pecan toffee cake
Sticky pear and pecan toffee cake

12 oz (350 g) of pie dough

3 large (UK medium) eggs

1/2 cup packed (100 g) light brown sugar

1/4 cup (50 g) superfine (caster) sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger, mixed with 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy (double) cream

1/2 cup (120 ml) milk

2 tbsp maple syrup, or 2 tbsp more sugar

1 (15-oz/425-g) can solid-pack pumpkin puree

A pinch of salt

For the cream

⅔ cup (150 ml) heavy (double) cream

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp bourbon or whiskey

 

Ingredients for pecan pie
Ingredients for pecan pie

Lightly flour the work surface, then roll out the dough until large enough to line a 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan (one with a lip is best). Use the pan as a guide for size, and try to keep the dough as round as you can.

You can either use the rolling pin to lift the dough into the pan, or try this method: Dust the top of the dough with a little flour, then fold it first in half, then into a triangle. Lift it into the pan, then unfold.

Press the dough against the edges of the pan, then trim off the overhanging dough with a sharp knife. Prick the bottom all over with a fork, right down to the metal. Crimp the edges, if you like, pushing the dough between your thumb and index finger to make deep, V-shaped indents. Repeat all the way around, then chill the dough for 15 minutes, or longer if you have time.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/ Gas Mark 5. Put the pan on a baking sheet. Tear a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to completely cover the dough, edges and all. Pour in pie weights (baking beans) to cover the bottom, mounding them up a little toward the edges. Bake for 20 minutes.

Check under the foil; if the pastry looks dry and set, remove the foil. If not, bake for another 5 minutes. When ready, carefully spoon out the hot baking weights, then remove the foil. Bake for another 15–20 minutes, or until it is golden and feels sandy. If the edges color before the bottom is ready, cover them with foil.

Make the filling while you wait. Beat the eggs, saving 1 tablespoon to glaze the pastry later. Beat the rest of the filling ingredients into the eggs to make a thin custard.

To seal the pastry (the filling has a lot of liquid), brush the pastry all over with 1 tablespoon reserved beaten egg, then bake for 2 minutes, until shiny.

Pull the oven rack out a little. Pour the filling into the crust, but don’t overfill it. Slide the oven rack back.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the edges rise slightly and the center wobbles gently. Let cool in the pan. To make a cream, whip all the ingredients until just thickened.

Serve the pie at room temperature or chilled, with the cream.

 

Jane Hornby. Photo by Steve Joyce
Jane Hornby. Photo by Steve Joyce

For more recipes from Jane order a copy of Simple & Classic here. Packed full of the most popular international recipes from Herb-Crusted Lamb to Eggs Benedict, and Berry Crumble Ice Cream to Chocolate Mousse with Cherries, these classic and contemporary recipes are destined to make this the most useful cookbook on the shelf. 

Simple & Classic by Jane Hornby


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