Park Cities’ resident Nancy Anderton began making pumpkin pies to deliver to Austin Street Center ten years ago. Nancy’s daughter Austin, currently a freshman at the University of North Texas, learned to roll and crimp pie dough at a very early age and she and her friends often helped Nancy in the kitchen.
“Austin is very good at making a pretty pie crust,” Nancy said. “Actually, she’s better than me.”
This year, the new senior pastor of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Dr. Ken Crawford, wanted to get in on the charitable undertaking while improving his pie making skills. Ken joined Nancy in the church kitchen Tuesday morning to help prepare, bake and box pumpkin pies to deliver to the Austin Street Center for their Thanksgiving dinner.
As with all pies, the crust makes the difference between a good and a wonderful pie.
“Although many cooks believer that very cold butter should be used when making pie dough, having your butter at room temperature is the secret to a good pie crust,” Nancy told Ken.
Nancy also adds vinegar to her pie dough to add tenderness and help keep the crusts from getting too brown.
Nancy begins collecting pumpkins early in the season, roasts them in the oven, removes the meat, purees it in a Vitamix or food processor and freezes the pulp until pie-making time.
“This pre-preparation makes pie-making go a lot quicker since we are making so many pies,” she said. “Originally I bought canned solid-pack pumpkin but eventually figured out I could do this myself.”
The result is that the pies are truly made from scratch.
The generous pies will feed more than 300 people.
“Each 12-inch pie will yield about 16 servings,” Nancy said.
By mid-morning, Nancy and Pastor Ken had pie pans of dough lined up on the kitchen’s serving line. Turns out the new pastor was very skilled at making a perfect crust.
Then the two began the process of mixing pumpkin puree, spices, eggs and sweetened condensed milk in the huge free-standing electric mixer, a staple in the church kitchen since the early 1960’s.
The pie crusts were filled and baked— filling the entire church with those wonderful aromas associated with the holiday season.
The cooled pies were boxed and ready to deliver to the Austin Street Center.
AustinStreetCenter was created in 1983 when overcrowded mental health institutions left many individuals with no alternative but a life on the streets. The late Henry C. Beck Jr. and former Dallas Mayor Starke Taylor arranged to lease space at 723 South Austin Street in downtown Dallas near Reunion Arena for $1 per month. The shelter was moved to its current location, 2929 Hickory Street, in 1992.
It is supported by volunteers from 120 Dallas-area churches and civic organizations and funded entirely by individuals and foundations. AustinStreetCenter accepts no government funding from any level, and no United Way funding. Since its inception, AustinStreetCenter has provided shelter for an average of 300 men and women – at no cost to the individual and at no cost to DallasCounty taxpayers.
Wednesday afternoon several members of Central gathered at the church for the reward—taking the pies to Austin Street. Nancy’s daughter, Austin, made it home for Thanksgiving in time to continue the tradition established by her and her mom years ago.
The Center’s staff was delighted to receive the pumpkin pies, welcomed us and opened the interdenominational chapel so we could see the beautiful stained glass windows inside.
Make this pumpkin pie during the holidays for your family.
Yields two 9-in pies
Pre-heat oven to 400
1½ sticks butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. Apple Cider vinegar
5 tablespoons ice cold water
Mix in Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with dough hook until dough forms a ball. Divide into two rounds and roll each into circle. Line pie pans and crimp the edges.
4 cups pumpkin puree
¾ cup brown sugar (packed)
¾ cup white sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Combine in Kitchen Aid mixer and pour into pie shells.
Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes. Check with toothpick to make sure pie is done in center.
Central Christian Church wishes you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas season.