December 21, 2012

Pear Pie

Ah, winter.  Seattle's color palate is dominated by grey, dark grey, and very dark grey.  Today is the shortest day of the year (fingers crossed that it's not the last day ever).  Sunset is officially at 4:20, but it'll start getting dark by 3:30.  And the endless winter drizzle, which will last until May at least, has begun in earnest.'s absolutely necessary to brighten the winter days with some warm, sticky, delicious pie.  Pear pie is one of my favorites.  I first made it last Christmas instead of the apple pie I usually bake, and, although it's almost blasphemous to say in my family (we really care about pie), I actually prefer pear to apple.

I tried something new to decorate the pie this time - I used some leaf shapes to adorn the edges.  To do this, I first crimped the edges of the pie with a fork.  Then, using the dough leftover from rolling out the pie, I cut out a bunch of leaf shapes using a sugar-paste cutter.  To help them stick to the crust, I dabbed a little water on the bottom of the leaf before lightly pressing it into place.  Although the leaves lost their detail a bit while baking, I still think the pie came out nicely.

The reason I love this pie is its simplicity - there isn't much to it besides pears, brown sugar, and pie crust.  The amount of added sugar is relatively low (⅔ cup in the filling, and 4 tablespoons in the crust) because pears are naturally pretty sweet.

This, in my opinion, is a perfect holiday pie.  The filling is buttery and not to sweet, the pears are mild, yet delicious, and the crust is flaky, buttery, goodness.  You can't keep me down, Seattle winter!  I have pie.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!

Pear Pie
Inspired by Katerina's Caramelized Pear Pie recipe at Daily Unadventures in Cooking.  Makes one 9" pie.

Ingredients for Crust
2½ cups (12½ ounces) all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups (2½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter
~¾ cup ice water

Ingredients for Filling
2 pounds (6-8) fresh pears (I used Anjou pears)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cornstarch
⅔ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter

  1. For the crust, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl with a fork.
  2. Cube the butter and "cut" it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until there are no butter bits that are bigger than a pea.  Make sure you don't go smaller than this, however, since you'll start to lose flakiness if the butter is too small.
  3. Add the ice water, a tablespoon or two at a time and use a fork to wet the flour/butter mixture.
  4. Keep adding until the dough just starts to hold together.  You don't want the dough too wet, and you don't want to mix in the water too much.  I find it useful to just use my hands to mix at this point.
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a couple hours at least (overnight is best).
  6. To make the filling, peel and quarter the pears, and cut into ¼-inch to ⅓-inch thick slices.
  7. In a large bowl, toss the pears with the cinnamon and cornstarch.
  8. Place the brown sugar and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, add the pears.
  9. Simmer the pears, stirring occasionally, until they are somewhat tender and soaked in the butter/sugar mixture.  This will be about 10 minutes for ripe pears and more (20-30 minutes) for unripe pears.
  10. Remove the filling from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature at least (overnight in the fridge is also fine).  If you don't allow them to cool before assembling your pie, they'll melt your pie crust and make a big mess.
  11. Preheat your oven to 425° F.
  12. Divide your pie dough in two.  Roll out the first half on a floured surface and use it to line the bottom of a 9" pie pan.
  13. Spoon the cooled filling into the pan.
  14. Roll out the second half of the crust on a floured board cover the pie, sealing and crimping the edges.
  15. Cut several slits in the top of the pie to allow air to escape.  Brush with an egg yolk wash and sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  16. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350° F and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly.
  17. Allow to cool completely before serving.


  1. What a delicious looking pie!

    The leaf shapes are a great idea & that second picture is so cute.

    We have a slice that we make which is supposed to made with apple, but almost everyone who tries it with apple and then with pear seems to prefer it with pear.

    Thanks for making a lovely blog - we enjoy reading it. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, maybe it's just the novelty of it, but I'm really enjoying this pie as a substitute for apple pie.

  2. Um, YUM. I love apple pie but I have a feeling this recipe could easily sway me to the pear side - it's like the dark side, but with pears, and instead of cookies, it's pie?

    And anyway, I think your leaves turned out super cute! Your photos are adorable, as always!

    1. Haha, yes - the dark side definitely has pear pie. Thanks! The leaves were a fun change.

  3. Beautiful pie! I really like the idea of making it with pear instead of apple, somehow I've never thought of that. I have a few pears in my fridge left over from making salad with blue cheese, spiced nuts and pears. I also just got a food processor, so I think I might make this pie on the weekend. Do you think that the filling would benefit from addition of some lemon juice?

    1. I'm sure lemon juice would be great! The recipe this was inspired by, at Daily Unadventures in Cooking, uses lemon juice (and no cinnamon). If you try it, let me know how it goes!


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