Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Look at that title, and ask yourself: have you ever seen those two words together before? (I’m pretty sure I haven’t.) And if not, why not?
I don’t know why not. All I know is that I was standing in the produce section the other day, longing to make a fruit pie for Sunday lunch dessert. Much as I love apple pie, I didn’t want to make that because I was serving applesauce with the main course and I thought it would be apple overkill. Making a fresh berry pie in February requires a bank loan, although I did remember (while recovering from reading prices) that I had a good-sized bag of farmers’ market blueberries still in the freezer. Would it be enough for a pie? And could I combine them with anything else that might be readily available and not hideously expensive?
And voilà—pear pie. Well, actually, pear-blueberry pie. I still don’t know why it’s not a thing. Why should apples get all the attention?
I do think pears probably don’t have quite enough flavor oomph to carry a pie entirely on their own, but I can think of all sorts of other possible combinations: pear-cranberry (or –craisin), pear-blackberry, maybe even pear-rhubarb (pearbarb?): really, anything that has some acid and sharpness to contrast with the pears’ mellow sweetness.
1 recipe pâte brisée
1 Tbsp/15 g butter
2 anjou pears
1-2 Tbsp spiced sugar*
1-2 cups blueberries
1 Tbsp lime juice
1-2 tsp cornstarch/cornflour
Prepare pâte brisée as directed, then put in fridge to rest for 30 minutes** while you get on with the filling.
Put a small saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat with the butter in it. Peel, core, and chop the pears and put them in the saucepan, stirring to coat thoroughly with the butter. Cook until just starting to soften, 4-6 minutes, seasoning with spiced sugar as you stir them. Remove from heat and place in a medium-sized bowl to cool for a couple of minutes.
Add one cup of blueberries to pears and stir to combine. Look at the mixture and decide if you need/want more blueberries, and add if desired. Sprinkle with cornstarch and more spiced sugar and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375F/190C and place a baking sheet inside.
Roll out the bottom pie crust and fit it carefully into a pie plate, then roll out the top crust before filling the pie.***
Dump the fruit into the prepared bottom crust; sprinkle liberally with lime juice and another dusting of spiced sugar, and then drape the top crust over the filled pie. Trim and crimp the edges of the crusts to seal the pie and make it look nice. Cut slits to vent the top crust.
Place the pie in the oven, on the baking sheet.**** Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pie’s position halfway through cooking time. When the crust is lightly browned and fruit juice is bubbling through the slits, it’s done.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Serves 6-8 slices.
* My spiced sugar is mainly cinnamon sugar, with a healthy dusting of cardamom thrown in for this recipe.
** Or you can make this ahead of time; I made the crust the afternoon before and left it to rest in the fridge overnight.
*** If you put the filling on the bottom crust and let it sit, the crust will get soggy before you can get the pie in the oven.
**** The baking sheet is to keep the fruit juice from leaking out of the pie and burning onto the oven. If the baking sheet is hot when you put the pie in, it won’t slow the cooking of the bottom of the pie.