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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fresh Pear Pie


Pear Pie is not well-known where I live.  I guess pears are so expensive when not in season that when you get a good juicy basket of pears the desire is to eat them fresh, as apple pie will suffice if one wants a pie to eat.  Yes, Pear Pie is similar to apple pie in that it is a sweet concoction of fruit and spices baked in a pie crust.  But it has subtle differences, not to mention the pear flavour,  and is a delicious choice for a fruit pie. 

I first learned to make Pear Pie when I was a very poor student.  It was the end of the summer and I'd worked hard to try and pay off as much of my school bill as I could.  I was stranded without anywhere to live and no money to go back to school.  I needed to get another job or get back home and neither one seemed possible at that time.  Fortunately, wonderful people, the Von Gunten's took me into their home for a few weeks til I could get on my feet and figure out what I was going to do. 

The Von Gunten's had a lovely large yard with a vegetable garden, fruit trees and grapevines.  Having no experience with "farming" I was fascinated by all this agriculture right in the back yard.  I would walk around looking at grapes growing over and around the arbour, tomatoes ripening in the garden and various fruit trees laden with their ripe offerings.  I even became acquainted with a little garter snake and his family.  I tried to catch one but, fortunately for the snake, it was lightning-fast slithering into crevices of the rock fence.   

Mrs. Von Gunten was a good cook and she fed me well but she also taught me well.  I wandered into the kitchen one morning and found Mrs. Von Gunten making a pie.  I thought it was apple pie until I saw her peeling pears.  My naive eyes opened wide.  I had never heard of a Pear Pie and it never occurred to me that pears would be good in a pie.  But they were! (I have since learned that just about anything can be encased in pastry.)  That was one delicious pie.  I don't know if Mrs. Von Gunten knew she was teaching me how to make Pear Pie but I watched and asked questions and remembered how she made it. 

The other day I was at the grocery store having a rummage through the near-dead fruit and vegetable bin where produce is marked down to an almost reasonable price.  Every now and then I'll find something quite salvageable and take it home with great satisfaction knowing I've gotten a good bargain.  It was on that day I spied two trays of pears with four pears in each tray.  Now, let me tell you, over-ripe pears aren't usually a bargain.  By the time they're spotted and soft on the outside, they're dead rotten on the inside.  But something about those pears drew me to them and I reached out with my well-experienced-fruit-squeezing-hand and gave them a little pinch.  Ah, they were still quite firm.  That was a good sign.  I picked up one of the packages and had a closer look and ascertained the pears were not rotten but a bit bruised.  I bought both packages, at $1.20 each, and knew there was a Pear Pie in my future.  

By the way, I never got a job those many years ago but found my way home.  You can read about that journey and more wonderful people over on Hippie Granola.  I actually became quite a responsible adult and held a full time job for over thirty years.  I'm glad those good people didn't give up on me. 


Pear Pie
6-8 pears
2 tablespoons flour
¼ -½ cup sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 9-inch unbaked double pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Have bottom pie crust in the pie dish.

Peel and slice pears.  Gently mix slices with the flour, sugar and spices and place in the pie crust.  If you like a sweet pie use the greater amount of sugar or more to taste. As pears are naturally quite sweet, I used the ¼ cup of sugar and it was sweet enough for us.  

Brush a little water on the edge of the bottom crust Place the top crust over the fruit and seal to bottom crust. 

Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees.  Lower heat to 375 and bake an additional 25 minutes.  The pie should be bubbling and the crust a golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Serve warm or cold with ice cream.  Makes 6-8 servings.


As you can see, these pears are perfect once they were peeled.  


 Mix the sugar, flour and spices together and toss with the pear slices.


Place the pear slices in the prepared pie crust.  You can see the top crust is ready to be laid on top.  These pears were really good.  I decided to use all eight pears in the pie so I used a 10-inch pie plate instead of the 9-inch but as I was peeling and slicing I made the mistake of tasting a pear slice.  It was so juicy and sweet that I stopped and ate one of the pears and put one aside for Don so I really only had enough pears for a 9-inch pie but I put them in the larger pie plate anyway as it was already lined with the pastry. 

Brush water on the edge of the bottom crust to "glue" the top crust to the bottom. 


When top and bottom crusts are sealed, make a fancy border.  Cut a few slashes on the top to vent the steam.   I sprinkled a little sugar on the top crust.  As you can see the 10-inch pie is still a respectable looking pie.  It would have been a little thicker if we didn't eat two of the pears.


Hot from the oven, cooling on the counter, with the sun shining through the window.  Can't wait to get my jaws on this one.  


The Pear Pie was delicious.  I served the pie warm with a scoop butterscotch ice cream.


Naturally sweet and delicious!


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