Believe it or not, I had never tried pecan pie until earlier this year when I moved to Austin, Texas. There is a silver lining: I got to try my very first slice in the state that proclaimed pecan pie as its official dessert. We can safely assume Texans know how to make it right.
Eight months and many pecan pies later, not only did I fall in love with this hearty sweet treat, but I felt compelled to learn about its origins and the way it was traditionally prepared. Before we venture off to explore some of the best pecan pies Austin has to offer, we should understand what makes a good one.
First things first, the dough. Short dough used for pecan pie is made by mixing flour with cold butter and a little bit of ice water. The result is a rich buttery crust that flakes in your mouth with every bite. A generous pinch of salt added to the flour will make the crust contrast with its sweet filling.
Now the filling in pecan pie is a kind of custard prepared with eggs, butter and corn syrup. As rumor has it, corn syrup was used in the original recipe. It’s very likely, though, that the rumor was started by Karo, a producer of corn syrup, that claims it was the wife of a company executive who came up with the recipe.
Finally, the pecans used for the pie should be local. After all, we are in Texas where the pecan tree is the official state tree and the pecan is the official state nut.
While these guidelines constitute the traditional recipe, twists on the original version are welcome. Here a few places in Austin that serve exceptional pecan pie!
1/ Upper Crust Bakery
A perfect example of traditional pecan pie so delicious, hearty and cozy that it’ll make you return to this bakery time and again. Upper Crust Bakery’s dough is soft but not soggy under the custard filling, with edges tender and flaky, snapping when you break them off. The filling is velvety and perfectly set with whole and chopped nuts on top.
4508 Burnet Road
2/ Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery
Just by looking at the picture, you’ll know this is a different take on the traditional pecan pie recipe. While most pies have a distinct layer of custard with nuts covering it, Quack’s filling with its abundance of nuts can only be justified in the state of Texas! I am not complaining. In my opinion, the more pecans, the better. Every bite of this pie is a burst of nutty and caramel flavors.
411 E. 43rd St.
3/ Flightpath Coffee House
Although Flightpath is not a bakery, their pecan pie is sourced from Texas Pie Company in Kyle and it’s one of the best in the Austin area. The crust is a dream come true with a good salty kick, making a great contrast with the sweet filling. Unlike many pies that have a jelly-like filling passing for custard, this one is perfectly set and has a silky smooth consistency. The coffeehouse has a cozy patio where you can enjoy your slice of pie with a cup of coffee.
5011 Duval St.
4/ Tiny Pies
It might be tiny, but make no mistake. This baby packs more flavor than some of the full-sized pies out there. What makes this twist on pecan pie so different is not the size, but the crust. If there was a “Best Crust” award, I would gladly give it to this little fellow because the dough is more reminiscent of a croissant rather than a basic pie crust. It doesn’t crumble; it flakes and falls into dozens of layers with every bite. Tiny Pies are baked in muffin tins, hence the size and shape. That is not your traditional version, but let’s face it: Austin is anything but traditional and this pie fits right in.
5035 Burnet Road #100 and 2032 S. Lamar Blvd.
Péché is a downtown absinthe bar and the place where I would least expect to get my pie fix. It was surprising to find such a decadent and elegantly served pecan pie here. Pies are made in-house using individual tins. The result resembles a tart more than a pie, with firm, crumbly dough and shallow sides. The best thing, though, is that it’s served with brown butter ice cream and caramel sauce. It’s hard to imagine anything more suitable to complement the buttery dough and toasted nuts in the filling. Although it’s the most expensive version on this list, this pie is definitely worth a try!
208 W. 4th St.
Whether you stay true to tradition or love a creative twist on the original recipe, there’s a delicious pecan pie for you in Austin. Trying all the options this city has to offer could take a year, but this list is a good place to start!
@theAustinot wants to know:
Where can we find your favorite pecan pie in Austin?
Yulia Dyukova is a Russian food and travel blogger at thefoodiemiles.com, currently based in Austin, TX. She is the kind of person who starts to research a new country by googling “what to eat in…” instead of “what to visit in…” Having come across a particularly mouth-watering dish, she feels obliged to share it with the world.