Infuse Pumpkin Pie Crust With Orange Zest For A Bright Flavor Punch

A classic pumpkin pie doesn't often hold many surprises. The pumpkin filling will be lightly spiced and sport a perfectly custard-like texture, while the crust will be buttery and flakey. Perhaps a dollop of whipped cream will adorn it, but other than that, the whole orange affair is kept delightfully simple. But there's always room for a creative twist on an old-school classic, so why not introduce a literal citrus twist into the equation? 

Specifically, consider adding a touch of orange zest to the pumpkin pie crust. Though citrus may seem an odd bedfellow for pumpkin, this bit of floral orange is an aromatic counterpoint to the decadence of the creamy pumpkin filling. It'll both brighten up and enhance the pumpkin's underlying earthy sweetness. Plus, orange plays very well with the classic pumpkin pie spices, like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. On every front, a bit of zest can take your favorite fall pie to the next level.

Adding a citrus kick to the pie crust

So how should you go about adding a burst of citrus to your pie crust? Start by rubbing a teaspoon of freshly grated orange zest into the bit of sugar you'll add to your crust. This will help release the aromatic oils within the zest. If your pie crust recipe doesn't call for any sugar, you can whisk it into the flour with the other spices, making sure it's evenly dispersed before mixing with butter and liquid ingredients. 

You don't have to do much more to send home that light orange flavor, but there are a few ways you can truly double down on the citrus. Consider adding a little bit of orange zest to the pumpkin pie filling itself or using a bit of orange juice rather than ice water as the liquid in the pie crust. Or, you can take it in a boozier direction and add a splash of Grand Marnier to the filling or to the whipped cream topping. However you chose to represent the orange in your pie, you'll be hooked on this unorthodox flavor combo for life.