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Holiday Pear Pie

November 24, 2010

Holiday Pear Pie

I love this pie so much. And this year, I finally got a good photo of it.

Apparently, the key to me taking good photographs is the macro lens. Hooray!

I’ve made this pie every Thanksgiving for three or four years. We aren’t huge pumpkin pie fans, and this is an excellent and festive holiday fruit pie.

This year, however, I may have botched it.

I was making cranberry sauce and blind-baking a second pie crust while making this pie… pre-Thanksgiving cooking is usually a symphony of multitasking. I dumped the sugar in the cranberry sauce, pulled the empty pie crust out of the oven, and turned around to mix the filling for the pear pie. I glanced at the recipe, and somehow the usually-trusty brain went through a process something like this:

Ah, next step: Add sugar to tapioca/spice mix, add this to fruit and stir.

Hey, I remember scooping some sugar a minute ago.

This is a pile of white grainy/powdery stuff with spices in.

Conclusion: I must have already mixed the sugar in.

::dump:: ::stir::

Continue.

This conclusion was false. I had not put any sugar into the pie. I did not realize my mistake until after I’d posted the recipe on Facebook, started a fun conversation about alternate uses for leftover cranberry sauce, finished my photo editing, and posted the photograph to go with the recipe.

So, it looks like this year we have a no-sugar-added pie, which would probably be fine if it were all-pear, but the cranberries really need a little alleviating sweetness. I’ll pick up some ice cream to try to offset the tartness, and we’ll see if it’s palatable. A friend has also suggested drizzling the pie with maple syrup, and I think this is brilliant. I will report back with the results.

And now, the recipe…

Holiday Pear Pie

Pears and cranberries, vanilla and nutmeg, nestled under a golden lattice… it’s everything a holiday fruit pie should be. And it comes together surprisingly quickly, too!

Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 70 mins

1 recipe pie dough (top and bottom crust, I just use the pillsbury pie-dough-inna-box)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp ground instant (minute) tapioca
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 vanilla bean
2 1/2 ripe bartlett or anjou pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup pear juice or nectar (sometimes hard to find. Look for a can of Jumex in the Mexican food section of the store, or bottles of juice for babies.)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 375, line a baking sheet with foil (this pie likes to drip a bit, and it makes a burned gummy mess on the pan)

Prepare pie dough according to directions (i.e. pull out of box…), press bottom crust into a 9 1/2″ deep dish pie pan (glass is best for this pie). Refrigerate while preparing filling

Zing the vanilla bean, nutmeg, and tapioca in a spice mill or food processor until it’s all powdered. Yes, the whole dang vanilla bean. Add the sugar, and toss this mix with pears, cranberries, and juice until fruit is well-coated. Transfer filling into pie shell. Dot the top of the pie with butter cubes (when I don’t forget the sugar, this is the part I always forget), and prepare the “lazy-lattice” top.

Roll out pie dough into a 14″ circle. Cut 12 1″ strips. Start in the center and lay 6 strips vertically 1/2″ apart across pie. repeat with next layer at a diagonal angle. Trim edges of lattice just a bit shorter than the bottom dough, then fold the bottom dough up over the lattice. Crimp edges with thumb and forefingers.

Transfer to baking sheet. Brush lattice with milk, sprinkle coarse sugar on top, and bake for 50 minutes. If edges of crust are golden, cover the edge with a triple layer of aluminum foil to protect it and return to oven until filling is bubbly and pears are fork-tender, 20 minutes more. Remove pie from oven and cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

PIE

At least it's pretty. Pucker up, buttercup.

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