Its dancing in my head, it’s bigger than my fist, its yellow or green or brown or red. The pears this season have been divine – from the grocery store varieties to the lovely gifts from home trees. It’s also one of the fruits on the lower end of the glycemic index for those of us watching their sugar intake. I have been gifted with a large sack filled with yellow green tree pears and have been racking my brain with what to do with them. I have eaten my fill of them raw and have already made up my pear butter (low sugar). Thankfully I have both food-loving coworkers and dessert-needing friends. I came across a recipe for a pear cherry pie after a suggestion from a fellow baker. Being me, I altered it to suit my tastes and it ran. Cherries are also very low on the glycemic index, however the dried varieties of all fruits have a higher index to keep in mind when relying on the index as your sugar intake guide.
Two or three things are required for pie: filling, crust(s) and/or crumble. I prefer crumble topped pies over two crusts or lattice – maybe it’s the oats? This will be a debate to the end of time – not even getting into the composition of the pie crust itself. Here is my take on the crust – feel free to use your own preferences.
Pie Crust Ingredients
IMPORTANT!!!! Put your solid fats into the freezer for at least an hour before use and nearly freeze your pie crust liquid. This makes one 9 inch crust.
- 1 ¼ c. AP Flour
- 1 ½ t. White Sugar
- ¼ t. Fine Salt
- ¼ t. each: Allspice, Cardamom and Cinnamon
- 3 ½ T. Butter, frozen and cut into pieces
- 3 ½ T. Vegetable Shortening, frozen and cut into pieces
- ¼ c. plus extra Good Quality Apple Juice, slushy
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and toss in the cut pieces of fat, coating them. Using a pastry blender (sort of looks like Edward Scissor-hands got his fingers tangled) or a pair of knives, cut the fat into the flour mixture until you have a good mix of cornmeal, peas and a few hazel nut sized pieces left. The chunky fat is a very good thing. Using a fork, gently toss the mixture with the apple juice slush, 1 T. at a time. Depending on your local environment, you make need more or less liquid (higher humidity, less liquid needed). The finished mixture will be a bit loose and raggy. If you can take a fist full and squeeze it together and it holds its shape – it’s got enough liquid. Knead this together about 4 times lightly and gather it into a flattened disk. Wrap it closely in plastic and refrigerate it at least 30 minutes.
Once the crust is rested and chilled, begin rolling it out. I place mine between parchment sheets and roll it into a disc that will completely line a 9 inch pie plate, plus some over the edge. Peel back the sheets from the rolled crust and lightly sprinkle with a touch of flour, patting it in. Fold the dough over to get each side and ease it into your pie plate or pan. For single crust pies, tuck the extra crust edge into the shell between the crust and the edge and crimp as you like. For two crusted or lattice pies, refrigerate the shaped crust while rolling the second and refrigerate the second rolled crust until you have the first shell filled.
Crumble Topping Ingredients
- 2/3 c. Rolled Oats
- ½ c. AP Flour
- ½ c. Brown Sugar
- ¼ t. each: Allspice, Cardamom and Cinnamon
- ½ c. Butter, soften to near melted
Mix all the ingredients until crumbly together. There will be some larger and smaller pieces. Set aside until the filling is done.
Preheat your oven to 400°F
Pie Filling Ingredients
- ½ c. Good Quality Apple Juice
- ½ c. Dried Tart Cherries or 1 c. Dark Sweet Cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 T. Corn Starch
- 1/8 t. each: Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, and Allspice
- 4 ½ – 5 c. Pears, sliced thin
In a small to medium sauce pan, mix the spices, starch, juice and cherries. Bring them to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let bubble for one minute. Pour over the pears in a large mixing bowl and stir together, being sure to evenly distribute the cherries. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Top with crumble. For two crust or lattice pies, cover or weave the lattice over the filling and tuck ends, crimping the edge together. Be sure to cut a few vents in the top crust.
Wrap the edge of the crust with a 2-3 inch foil strip to prevent over browning and bake 35 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool one hour before serving.
This pie has extremely low amounts of added sugar but it doesn’t need any additional sweetness. Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream or whipped cream would be a great addition – if you are into that sort of thing. Also very good for breakfast.
*Pictures are from two different pie making days. Neither of which was fully consumed by me – Honest – I only ate 2 slices!