Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pear Pie with Crumble Topping

I know what you're thinking. Do I only eat pears? Not really, though I did just finish a bowl of oatmeal topped with pear compote. Man, was it good.

I am in a bit of a pear phase, however. Part of it has to do with the surplus of pears still hanging around after I finished house sitting. Part of it was realizing that home cooked pears are nothing like the pale, vaguely sweet canned pears my mother used to serve me on a bed of lettuce, topped with a scoop of cottage cheese. I liked those pears just fine as a child, but they did nothing to endear me to the fruit.

The real reason for this pear frenzy, however, was that I'm moving. Moving requires a pantry and fridge deep clean, which means I've eaten pears on top of cereal every morning for.... weeks. And I used the last seven pears, the ones that were a tad mottled and scraped, to make a pear pie.

Who makes pie while packing and moving, you ask? Apparently I do. In a fit of reverse nesting, I made pie, apple sauce from foraged apples, and served a week's worth of insane meals built from leftovers stashed in the freezer: tomato artichoke soup; pork chops and roasted butternut squash; shrimp, peas, and sauteed zucchini with lemon and paprika; pasta with creamy tomato sauce.

And I used the frozen pie crust purchased at Healdsburg's Downtown Bakery and Creamery so many months ago, when in a fit of nesting and wooing, I thought about making a pie in the tiny, cold kitchen of a Dry Creek Valley love shack.

That pie never happened, but this one did. Caramelized pears with lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little heat from the allspice. A crunchy, buttery crust that compels one to sneak nutty nibbles while waiting for the boyfriend to come home one evening.

A pie so good that I almost want to make it again for Thanksgiving next week, but I won't. Because packing and cleaning and nesting and moving is all about the new in life. Meaning, I'm on the hunt for another pie.

Pear Pie with Crumble Topping
Adapted from Caprial's Desserts.
FYI: I used a pre-made pie crust, and it worked great, but was totally dependent on the excellent, quality of the crust from the Healdsburg Bakery and Creamery. If you choose to not make your own crust, just prepare filling and topping, and bake according to directions.

7 firm pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
Pâte Brisée (recipe follows)
3 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
Streusel Topping (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, toss the pears with the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; let sit for about 15 minutes to give the pears time to get juicy.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

On a well-floured board, roll the dough out into a 10 inch circle. Fit the dough into a 9 inch pie plate, fold the edges under, and flute. Pile the pears onto the crust, dot with the butter, and top with the streusel. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Pâte Brisée

Makes enough for a single-crust pie or a 9 to 10 inch tart.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp (39 g) shortening
1/2 cup (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add the shortening and better and mix just until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the ice water and mix just until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and form it into a disk with your hands.

Streusel Topping

Makes about 2 cups

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 Tbl. pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, diced

Combine the sugars, oats, cinnamon, flour, salt, and butter in a bowl, and use a fork to mash ingredients together into chunky, granola like consistency. Dribble maple syrup over strudel, and use fork to incorporate maple syrup. It will be crumbly, but that's the point! The streusel will keep refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

1 comment:

Megan Gordon said...

Nice! I just made a pear cranberry pie last night to bring to my dad's house and the only thing I wished was that the streuesel had some oats...will try yours next time. Looks beautiful!