Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rhode Island Chunky Pear Pie

Chunky Pear Pie

Chunky Pear Pie

My coworkers asked how I made this pie, and I said, "it's pretty simple."

"It's just pears, walnuts and raisins...and some maple syrup. And some orange juice, zest, and cloves. And some tapioca, which I like to grind it in a coffee grinder so it dissolves faster."

When asked about the crust, I said something like: "I make the crust entirely in the food processor. Except I like to pulse the butter and dry ingredients before I add the shortening because it incorporates faster. Sometimes I add the water and knead the dough by hand, smearing it against the counter...and yes there's an egg wash."

I forgot to mention that I often roll the dough on a silpat, and i'll pop it in the freezer if it starts sticking. I core my pears with a mellon baller, and I use frozen shortening and toasted nuts (which I prefer to chop with a serrated knife).

The recipe does look simple on the page, and I think that's a good thing. Too much detail can render a recipe inaccessible. When confronted with a giant text-block, some will assume the recipe is too complicated or time consuming. Thankfully, many cookbooks limit clutter on the page by including seperate sections on techniques and ingredients.

Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts does a beautiful job of organizing content. It has a good balance of historical and personal anecdotes, techniques, and recipes. It's a really nice multi-purpose baking book that's been extremely reliable so far. I'm really pleased with the variety and consistency of the recipes.

I loved this pear pie. The filling is low on sugar and chunky, not gloopy.If you aren't keen on the orange/clove flavor combination- I think cinnamon and apple cider could be nice substitutions. This pie is great slightly warm, but it will slice best when fully cooled.

Rhode Island Chunky Pear Pie
adapted from Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
11 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 1/2 tbsp cold solid vegetable shortening
5 tbsp cold water, plus more as needed

1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, butter, and shortening in a food processor or in a mixing bowl. Pulse the machine (or cut the ingredients together with two knives) until the mixture is crumbly.

2. Add the water and pulse (or toss with a fork) until the mixture begins to clump together. Gather it into a ball, sprinkling with a few more drops of water, if needed. Divide the dough into two slightly unequal pieces and flatten into discs. Wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

3. Preheat the oven to 425F, with a rack in the lower third. Roll out the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface to a large circle 1/8 inch thick. Fit it into a 9.5 inch pie pan. Trim the edge, leaving a 3/4in overhang. Roll out the remaining dough and transfer it to a foil lined baking sheet (or a silicone mat). Chill the doughs while you prepare the filling.

Pear Filling
4 pounds (about 12) ripe pears (preferably Bosc or Anjou)
2 1/2 tbsp orange liqueur, orange juice, or amaretto
2 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 tbsp quick cooking tapioca
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

1. Peel, halve, and core the pears; cut into coarse chunks, letting the pieces fall into a large bowl. You should have about 6 cups (*I had -way- more. I only needed about 8-9 pears). Add the orange juice (or liqueur), maple syrup, orange zest, cloves, walnuts, raisins, and tapioca. Toss gently to combine the ingredients. Place the filling in the pie shell, mounding it in the center. Dot with the butter.

2. Brush the edges of the pie crust with egg wash. Loosely drape the remaining dough over the filling. Trim off the excess pastry, leaving a 3/4in border. Turn the edges of the top crust under the edges of the bottom crust, leaving a smooth border on the rim of the pie pan. Crimp or flute the border. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Make several slashes in the top of the dough.

3. Place the pie on a baking sheet (*I put the sheet in the oven ahead of time). Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices begin to bubble up, about 50 minutes.

4. Cool the pie on a wire rack. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.


Christina said...

That is the most perfect pie I have ever seen, especially the crimped edges. The filling sounds delicious and makes me want to make a pear pie.
I've never heard of grinding the tapioca before, but it certainly makes sense now that I think about it.

Brilynn said...

I don't think I've ever made a just pear pie, it sounds wonderful though!

redmenace said...

What an absolutely great pie combo! I really must try this. Thanks!