Nigel Slater describes an apple in his book Ripe as a “quick hit,” but the pear as “something to take our time over.” I would have to agree and have always been partial to pears over apples, especially when it comes to pies. Here, however, I’ve combined them; this pie is chockfull of fresh pears, and their juice is cooked down with a good splash of hard apple cider. It’s a fantastic combination, a perfect pie for crisp autumn evenings and then for breakfast the following morning.
A few things:
*I’m very excited about all the Fall Cookbooks that are out/soon to be out! A few favorites on my list: Escapism Cooking, Tartine: A Classic Revisited, Weeknight Baking, Midwest Made, and 365: A Year of Everyday Cooking.
*My husband and a good friend of his recently released some music into the world on a little album called Admissions, which you can find here.
Pear-Apple Hard Cider Pie
Adapted from my book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
8 cups (1135g) sliced Barlett pears, ripe, but still firm (peeled, cored, and sliced into 1-inch pieces), 7 to 8 pears
1 cup (150g) peeled and grated Gala apple, about 2 small apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup (50g) plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hard apple cider (regular apple cider will work, too)
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Egg wash (1 egg, 1 tablespoon water, and a pinch of salt whisked together)
1 double crust pie recipe (see below)
For the Filling
Combine sliced pear, grated apple, lemon juice, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Let sit for 2 hours at room temperature (You can also wrap the bowl with plastic and let the pear mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator).
Strain the sugary juice from the fruit into a medium saucepan (you should have about ½ cup of juice). Return the fruit to the large bowl. Add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and hard apple cider to the juices in the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer until reduced to a scant 1/2 cup, about 5 to 6 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to stir. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Set aside to cool slightly.
Sprinkle the cornstarch and spices over the apples and toss to coat. Pour the slightly cooled fruit juice mixture over the fruit and stir gently.
To Assemble and Bake
Lightly flour a work surface and roll out one piece of the dough into a 12-inch circle about ¼-inch thick and place it into a 9-inch pie plate. Place the plate in the fridge and let chill while you roll out the second piece of dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the second piece of dough into a 12-inch circle about ¼ thick. Set aside.
Fill the prepared pie shell with the apple mixture. Top with the second crust. Trim the dough overhangs to 1-inch past the lip of the pie plate. Pinch the dough together, and tuck it under itself so it’s resting on the edge of the pie plate. Crimp the edges of the dough and cut at least 4 vents in the top, each about 2 inches long (for a large lattice top, see instructions below). Place the pie plate in the freezer for about 20 minutes while the oven is preheating. The crust should be nice and firm before you bake it.
Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a baking sheet on the oven rack (the preheated baking sheet helps crisp the bottom of the pie crust and catches any leaks and drips).
When ready to bake, brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with 1 or 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Put the pie plate on the preheated baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Reduce the oven to 375ºF and bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble.
Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before serving.
18 tablespoons (255g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 24 pieces
2 1/2 cups (355g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Put the butter in a small bowl and place it in the freezer. Fill a medium liquid measuring cup with water and add plenty of ice. Let the both the butter and the ice water sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, and salt on low until combined. Add half of the chilled butter and mix on low until the butter is just starting to break down, about 1 minute. Add the rest of the butter and continue mixing until the butter is broken down and in various sizes (some butter will incorporated into the dough, some will still be a bit large, but most should be about the size of small peas). Stop the mixer and use your hands to check for any large pieces of butter that didn’t get mixed or any dry patches of dough on the bottom of the bowl; break up the butter and incorporate the dry flour as best you can. With the mixer running on low, slowly add water a few tablespoons at a time and mix until the dough starts to come together but is still quite shaggy.
Dump the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and flatten it slightly into a square. Gather any loose/dry pieces that won’t stick to the dough and place them on top of the square. Gently fold the dough over onto itself and flatten again. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times, until all the loose pieces are worked into the dough. Be very gentle with your movements, being careful not to overwork the dough. Flatten the dough one last time into a rectangle and cut into 2 pieces. Form the pieces into 6-inch discs and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.
Large Lattice Crust
If making a lattice crust, use 3 cups (426g) of all-purpose flour instead of the 2 1/2 cups (355g). Follow the recipe as written. Lightly flour a work surface, and roll one disc of dough to a 12-inch circle. Gently fold the dough in quarters and place it in the pie plate. Unfold the dough, letting the excess dough drape over the edges. Gently press the dough into the bottom and trim the overhang to 1 inch past the lip. Place the pie plate in the fridge until ready to use.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the second disc of dough into a large rectangle 1/4-inch thick, and about 16 by 10-inches. Cut 7 strips of lattice, 2 1/4-inches wide. Place the cut strips on the prepared sheet pan and chill in the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes before using.
When ready to assemble the pie, remove the pie plate and baking sheet from the fridge. Fill the pie as directed in the recipe. Place 4 lattice strips next to one another on the filling. Weave the remaining 3 lattice strips, lifting the pieces as needed. Trim the overhanging bottom dough to 3/4 inch past the lip of the pie plate. Trim the overhanging lattice pieces so they are about 1/2-inch past the lip. Fold the bottom dough up and over the ends of the lattice strips, creating a rim. Press the dough firmly to lock it intO place and then crimp the edge using your fingers.