I’m including two different dough recipes. The first is the skimpier quantity I use, since it makes bars that I think have the optimum crust-to-filling ratio. However since rolling that quantity of pie dough out thin enough to cover the interior of a 10″ x 13″ baking pan can be a bit challenging (especially for those who’ve never done it before), I’m including another version, which ups the quantity by about 25%. This rolls out to a thicker sheet, but it makes an easier job of the process. Here’s the standard quantity:
8 ounces all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, chilled (substitute lard for up to half)
1-2 tablespoons ice water
And now the “upped” quantity:
10 ounces all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons, 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
12 ½ tablespoons butter, chilled (substitute lard for up to half)
2-3 tablespoons ice water
Treat them both the same way, as you would a typical pie dough recipe. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl until combined, then rub in (or “cut” in with a pastry blade) the fat. The texture should be like coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces left in it. Add the ice water — the smaller quantity first — and if that’s not enough to bring the dough together into an almost-crumbly ball, then add the rest. Try to avoid “working” the dough which will develop gluten and cause the dough to shrink up in the oven. Pat it into a disk.
Rest the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Roll out to size, lay into a 10″ x 13″ baking pan and trim. Put the pan into the refrigerator to further rest the dough — a minimum of half an hour (this will further relax any gluten). Preheat your oven to 375. When the crust has rested, remove it from the fridge and line the pan with tin foil. Pour in a few cups or pie weights or dry beans, or scatter loose change over. Bake for 25 minutes (during which time you will prepare your filling). Remove weights and the foil and bake for 10 minutes or more until lightly browned.
Now for the filling:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 cups heavy or light cream
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin pureé
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Moisten the first cup of sugar with the 1/4 cup water in a sauce pan and swirl over high heat until it turns light amber, then dark amber. For a more pronounced caramel flavor, wait for a brown-black spot to appear in the center of the pan before you remove it from the heat and start adding your cream slowly in a steady stream, whisking all the while (watch out, it’ll foam and sputter a bit).
Once all the cream is in, whisk in the rum, pumpkin, sugar, spices and vanilla. Keep the filling warm on a very low flame until the crust is nearly ready. It should NOT be bubbling/boiling.
When the crust has about a minute to go, take the filling off the heat and whisk in the eggs. Remove the crust and immediately pour the warm filling into the hot crust to create a water-proof seal. Put the pan into the oven and drop the heat to 350. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the pan, jiggling it to see how “sloshy” it still is in the middle. Bake another 10 minutes or so, just until the center no longer “sloshes”, but jiggles firmly. Cool for a minimum of one hour before slicing and serving. I prefer mine chilled.