Every Thanksgiving, Jeff and I would agree that we would like to try and make a holiday pie. Not being very good at making a pie crust, we avoided it by making our Apple Raspberry Crumble. Great topping...no crust. This year we found a recipe in the Fine Cooking Magazine called Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel. It looked good and only had one crust so we figured we'd attempt our first pie.
The pie was fairly easy to make, the crust was a little bit of a challenge. We got it rolled out and into the pie pan; it seemed too short and we struggled to crimp the ends. It didn't look great going into the oven but appeared much better coming out.
I am an apple pie fan through and through but this was DELICIOUS. Tasting similar to an apple pie, it had a wonderful texture and sweetness, especially combined with the dried cherries. The crust was buttery and firm and it never lost its texture even as we continued to eat the pie after Thanksgiving.
We have guests coming for dinner next Saturday and having been reminded of how good this was, we are making a Fresh Pear Pie for dessert.
4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. table salt
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/8 oz. (1/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
1 blind-baked All-Butter Piecrust (see below)
Position a rack in the center of the oven, set a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, blend the butter into the flour mixture. The mixture will be moist. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the pears with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the sugar mixture to the pears and toss well to combine. Stir in the cherries.
Mound the filling into the piecrust. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the pear mixture, pressing the streusel between your fingers into small lumps as you sprinkle.
Put the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake until the pastry is golden-brown and the filling is bubbly and thickened at the edges, 55 to 65 minutes. Rotate the pie halfway through baking, and if the pastry or streusel browns before the filling has thickened, loosely cover the top or edges of the pie as needed with a pie shield or a sheet of aluminum foil.
Transfer to a rack and cool completely before serving. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.
1 tsp. granulated sugar
3/8 tsp. table salt
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, preferably European style, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 to 4 Tbs. ice water
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a rubber spatula or a fork to combine. Add the butter to the bowl. Rub the cold chunks of butter between your fingertips, smearing the butter into the flour to create small (roughly 1/4-inch) flakes of fat.
Drizzle 3 Tbs. ice water over the flour mixture. Stir with the spatula or fork, adding 1 Tbs. more water if necessary, until the mixture forms a shaggy dough that’s moist enough to hold together when pressed between your fingers.
With well-floured hands, gently gather and press the dough together, and then form it into a disk with smooth edges. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour, but preferably 2 to 4 hours, before rolling.
Let the chilled dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly—it should be cold and firm but not rock hard. Depending on how long the dough was chilled, this could take 5 to 20 minutes. When ready to roll, lightly flour the counter top or other surface (a pastry cloth, silicone rolling mat, or parchment on a counter also works great) and position the rolling pin in the center of the dough disk. Roll away from you toward 12 o’clock, easing the pressure as you near the edge to keep the edge from becoming too thin. Return to the center and roll toward 6 o’clock. Repeat toward 3 and then 9 o’clock, always easing the pressure at the edges and picking up the pin rather than rolling it back to the center.
Continue to “roll around the clock,” aiming for different “times” on each pass until the dough is 13 to 14 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Try to use as few passes of the rolling pin as possible. After every few passes, check that the dough isn’t sticking by lifting it with a bench knife (dough scraper). Re-flour only as needed—excess flour makes a drier, tougher crust. Each time you lift the dough, give it a quarter turn to help even out the thickness.
Gently transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, preferably metal, by folding it in half and unfolding it into the plate. Do not stretch the dough as you line the pan, or it will spring back when baked. Gently lift the outer edges of the dough to give you enough slack to line the sides of the pan without stretching the dough.
Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch from the edge of the pan. Roll the dough under itself into a cylinder that rests on the edge of the pan.
To crimp the edge, have one hand on the inside of the edge, and one hand on the outside, and use the index finger of the inside hand to push the dough between the thumb and index finger of the outside hand to form a U or V shape. Repeat around the edge of the pie plate, creating a crimped edge whose individual flutes are about an inch apart. As you are going along, if you notice that the edge is not perfectly symmetrical and that the amount of dough you’ll have to crimp seems sparse in places, take a bit of trimmed scrap, wet it with a drop or two of water, and attach it to the sparse area by pressing it firmly into place.
Prick the sides and bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. This will relax the dough and help prevent the edges from caving in.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line the chilled piecrust with foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes; remove the foil and the beans or weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
Bake until the bottom looks dry but is not quite done and the edges are light golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Let cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.
This pie dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or frozen (before or after rolling) for up to 3 months. Simply transfer the dough to the refrigerator the night before you plan to make pie, and it’ll be ready to go.