When the weather starts turning colder, I look forward to baking fall pies like apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan and pear. With the abundance of pears from my parents tree I have been waiting for just the right time to make a homemade pear pie. With fall right around the corner I figured there was no better time than now! With their tender, flaky pastry and warm fruit centers, luscious homemade pies are hard to resist.
The pie dough I used in this recipe uses vodka instead of water to achieve a tender and flaky crust. It always turns out so well that it has become my go to recipe for pie crust! The vodka imparts no flavor and is only used for the incredibly flaky texture. However, if you are concerned about using vodka (or don’t have any on hand) you can always use the basic pie dough recipe. Slices of fresh pear are layered into a pastry shell, sprinkled with sugar, splashed with lemon juice and topped with a woven lattice crust. Serve this pie with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for an incredible fall dessert.
Slices of fresh pear are layered into a pastry shell, sprinkled with sugar, splashed with lemon juice and topped with a woven lattice crust.
Yield: one 9-inch, double-crust pie
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup vodka, cold
1/4 cup cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For the Pear Filling:
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon lemon zest
5 cups peeled and sliced pears
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For The Pie Dough: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 pulses. Transfer mixture into medium bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. Using a folding motion, use a rubber spatula to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on floured work surface to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate while preparing filling until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the pie filling. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and lemon zest in mixing bowl. Arrange pears in layers in the dough-lined pie pan, sprinkling the sugar mixture over each layer. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Transfer to the refrigerator while rolling out remaining dough.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the second pie dough disk into a 12-inch round. With pastry wheel, cut the dough into 12 strips 3/4 inch wide. Place 6 strips horizontally across the top of the pie at 1 inch intervals. Weave in 6 vertical strips. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. If dough is very soft, chill in freezer for 10 minutes.
Place pie on baking sheet and bake until crust is set and begins to brown, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.
Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute.
Look for firm, slightly under-ripe pears for this pie since the pears soften and give off juice as they bake.
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