No More Mr. Nice Pie

No More Mr. Nice Pie
Drawing by Retsu Takahashi

Monday, November 24, 2014

Countdown to Thanksgiving DAY 2 Pear Ginger Sour Cream Pie with Almond Oatmeal Crumble

Bushels of apples are all the rage this week at work. Two pounds of apple slices per pie times 225 pies is more than I can peel, and certainly more than I can count. In the safe haven of my home kitchen, I will turn instead, to the pear.

Pear and I had a bit of a falling out a few weeks back. Pear was behaving much like avocado; far from ripe, still not ripe, even still, not ripe. When pear finally came around, too ripe. In anticipation of my Thanksgiving timeline, I purchased a few pears in their wax fruit state, put them to bed in a brown paper bag and voilà! They are now ready for their close-up; just ripe enough to be flavorful, not overly so that they will bake into a sorry state of pear sauce. They will hunker down in a pie plate with candied ginger, lemon, vanilla bean and a bit of cardamom.

In the constant state of insanity that overtakes the bakery this week, I find myself pining for the tranquility of Rensselaerville, NY. I miss my summer cronies who are scattered around the country, preparing to celebrate the holiday around their own big tables. My pear ginger sour cream pie sports an almond oatmeal crumble, as a wink and a nod to fellow baker and dear friend, Dakota. Happy Baking to all of my Scholarly pals.

Pear Ginger Sour Cream Pie with Almond Oatmeal Crumble

1 recipe pate brisee to fit a 9” pie plate

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 oz. (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup ice cold water plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the flour, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter and process just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the ice water/apple cider vinegar a tablespoon at a time, just until the dough holds together. If it feels a bit dry, add an additional tablespoon or two of ice water. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll the dough on a piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour and place it in a 9” pie plate. Roll and crimp the edges. Set in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

For the Almond Oatmeal Crumble (from Cafette)

1 cup old-fashioned oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
¾ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup sliced almonds
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oats, all-purpose and whole wheat flours, brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon, salt and cold butter. Mix on low speed until the topping is well combined and crumbly. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while you prepare the filling.

The filling: (adapted from Gourmet and A Slice of Heaven)

1 cups sour cream
⅓ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
½ vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped with the tip of a small knife
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom (you can bump this up to ¼ teaspoon if you are a serious cardamom fan)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons minced, candied ginger
2½ pounds ripe but firm Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced ½” thick
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a large bowl whisk together the sour cream, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, vanilla bean seeds, cardamom and the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add the candied ginger. In a separate bowl, combine the pear slices with the lemon juice and turn to coat with a rubber spatula. Add the pears to the sour cream mixture, and gently stir the filling until it is combined.

Place the chilled pie shell on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spoon the filling into the shell, smooth the top with an offset spatula. Crumble the almond/ oatmeal mixture evenly over the top of the pie. Bake the pie in the middle of the preheated 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes, covering the edges with strips of aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning. The pears should be tender when pierced with a knife and the custard should test clean. Cool the pie completely before serving.

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