In addition to chocolate pumpkin pie, there is one other variation on traditional pie that turn to when I want something a little different than the traditional plain pie: crumble-topped pumpkin pie. I start with the same basic custard filling that I use for a regular pumpkin pie and make a little bit of a streusel mixture to sprinkle on top before baking. Pecans are just as closely associated with fall as pumpkins are, so I always include pecans in the mixture. This gives the finished pie a nice nuttiness – and makes it appeal to those who generally reach for a slice of pecan pie before pumpkin.
The combination of flavors and textures in this pie is wonderful. The crumble topping is slightly crisp, and the pecans – even those that manage to sink down a bit into the pumpkin custard – add a little bit of a crunch to every bite. The custard is smooth and slightly spicy. The crust, like the topping, also has a nice crispness to it. Adding some coarsely chopped pecans gives it a little something “extra” over a regular graham cracker crust and ties it in nicely with the topping. The pie is best within about 2 days of baking because that is when the crust and crumble both have their best texture; they tend to loose some of their crispness after being stored in the refrigerator for a longer period of time.
I put most of the spices into the pumpkin custard filling and leave them out of the crust and the topping. If you want to increase the overall spiciness, or give the pie an extra bit of cinnamon, you can add some to the crumble mixture. I think that the flavor of the pecans is really able to come out when it stands alone, though, and gives the pie a nice balance between crust, topping and filling.
Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crumble Topping
2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup very finely chopped pecans
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, melted
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 – 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats, regular or quick-cooking
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tbsp butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine all crust ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Mixture should look like coarse, wet sand.
Press into a 9 or 10-inch pie plate and bake for 12-15 minutes, until just beginning to brown.
Set aside to cool completely.
Turn up oven temperature to 425F.
Make the pie filling: In a large bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin puree and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in all the spices and the milk.
Pour filling into cooled pie crust.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425F.
While the pie starts to bake, make the crumble topping: Whisk together flour, sugar, oats and pecans in a small bowl. Mix in softened butter until mixture comes together in coarse clumps.
After the first 15 minutes of baking, open to oven and carefully sprinkle on crumble topping. Some of the topping will sink into the pie, especially if there are large pieces of pecans in the mixture, so don’t worry about it.
Reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for 35-40 more minutes, until the pie jiggles only slightly and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting and refrigerate if storing leftovers.
Makes 1 pie; serves about 10.