All-Pear Pie with Maple and Candied GingerPears have always been one of my favorite fruits. When I was a kid, my mom would open up several cans of pears for dessert for me and my six siblings, and I’d be in gourmet heaven. I still love pear desserts, especially this double-crust pie featuring pure maple syrup and candied ginger. As with the canned pears of my youth, I can’t get enough of it. Make this in fall, when pears are juicy and abundant. I don’t usually bother to peel pears because the skins of most varieties are very soft.
- Double-Crust Perfect Pie Dough by Hand (see below) or another double-crust dough
- 7 cups cored and sliced ripe pears, unpeeled
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus a little for sprinkling
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 1/2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
- 1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Milk, for glaze
Adjust the oven racks so one is in the lower position and another is in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the pears, sugar, maple syrup, tapioca, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest (if using), and ginger in a large bowl. Mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Roll the other dough portion into an 11-inch circle. Turn the filling into the pie shell and smooth it out to even the top. Dot with butter. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell. Drape the top pastry over the filling, pressing along the edge to seal. Trim the overhang with scissors, leaving an even 1/2 to 3/4 inch all around, then sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Flute or crimp the edge, as desired. Poke several steam vents in the top of the pie with a large fork or paring knife. Put a couple of the vents near the edge so you can check the juices. Brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Set the pie on the prepared baking sheet and bake on the lower oven rack for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F and move the pie up to the middle rack, rotating it 180 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes longer, until the juices bubble thickly at the vents.
Perfect Pie Dough by HandIf you’re new to pie making, begin with this dough.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, or 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, cubed unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or lard in small pieces
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup cold water
Add all of the fat to the dry mixture, tossing the fat with the flour to coat it well. Using your fingers, squeeze the fat to flatten out the butter and smear it with the flour. When the cubes are flattened, switch to a pastry blender and continue to cut the fat into the flour until the largest pieces are about the size of small peas and everything looks like it has been touched by the fat. At that point, rub everything between your fingers for 30 to 45 seconds to make sure no dry pockets remain.
Mound the ingredients in the center of the bowl. Drizzle about half of the water down the sides of the bowl, turning the bowl as you pour so the water doesn’t end up all in one place. Using a large fork, lightly mix the dough, tossing it from the perimeter toward the center of the bowl. Don’t compress the dough at this point; you’re trying to spread the moisture around. Sprinkle half of the remaining water over the dough and toss again. Finally, sprinkle all but the last tablespoon of liquid over the dough and stir vigorously. The dough should start to gather in large clumps, but if it is dry in places, add the last bit of water.