This recipe is a compilation of a lot of different things I like to eat: pie, crisps, anything that can serve as a vehicle for ice cream. Plus, it took care of an unfortunate accident I had last fall, when a grocery bag filled with ripe pears slipped from my hand and down the stairs as I walked up to my apartment. Needless to say, the recipe was a hit, and my roommates and I were thrilled, in the end, to have been in possession of so many bruised pears! I ate the piece pictured above on a beautiful sunny fall day last year, sitting on my front balcony, ignoring my senior thesis. Lovely :) - ChristineB —ChristineB
Test Kitchen Notes
This is a very well written recipe. I appreciate the instructions on adding the water to the crust (five tablespoons were plenty for me too) and the slicing and placement of the pears. It really made a difference in how the pie cut and stayed together. As far as the taste, it was out of this world! I love the crumble on top with the toasted pecans and oatmeal. I shared the pie with my neighbors and they all loved it. I will definitely make this pie again. - nannydeb —The Editors
1 pie (serves three, if you live with roommates like mine)
1 1/4 cups
all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, kept very cold
Pear filing and crumble topping
ripe pears (I like using bosc, but any variety will work. use 8 if, like me, you are prone to eating slices as you cut!)
light brown sugar
unsalted butter, cut into tiny little bits
all purpose flour
rolled oats (either 1 minute or the regular variety are fine, but definitely don't use steel-cut oats, which are delicious in their own right, but don't belong here!)
pecans, toasted and cooled
unsalted butter, softened
In This Recipe
Whisk together flour and salt (I just use my pastry blender, so I don't have to dirty another utensil...as if one more fork would be the end of the world!). Drop butter pieces all over the flour, and cut in with pastry blender until the dough looks quite ragged. The butter should be in many different pieces, some almost completely incorporated into the flour, some about the size of your fingernail.
Add ice water in two tablespoon increments, scattering it all over the dough, and stirring thoroughly with a spatula after each addition, until the dough almost comes together, but is still fairly dry. I usually find I need about five tablespoons, sometimes six, but my house is quite dry.
Gather dough together in a cohesive ball on the countertop, flatten it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for one hour.
Meanwhile, peel pears, halve them, and core them (melon baller works well). Then, slice them to 1/4 inch thickness, vertically from stem to bottom. You want them to be really thin and long, so that the pie stays together as you cut it. I find that if my fruit pieces are too short or too thick, they slip and slid around as I cut.
Toss the pears with 1/2 cup of the light brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and the little bits of unsalted butter (2 Tablespoons), and set aside.
Make the crumble topping. In a food processor, add the rolled oats, 3/4 cup flour, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, pecans, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Process until the pecans are in tiny, barley-sized pieces, and the oats are ground, but still have some texture (about 30-45 seconds). Add the 1/2 cup of softened butter in several pieces, and pulse about ten times, or until the butter is fully incorporated into the dry ingredients. If the topping seems too wet, add another couple tablespoons of flour, and continue pulsing.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roll out chilled pie dough, and lay it in a pie dish. I like to crimp my edges with my fingers in the old fashioned way, but you can do whatever you like.
Lay the pears into the dish so that all the pieces lie flat. This way, you'll get more pears into your pie, and the pie will be nicely mounded on top, even after it comes out of the oven. Pour any liquid gathered at the bottom of the bowl over the top of the pears.
Cover the entire top of the pears with the crumble topping, making sure there are some big chunks of buttery goodness among the smaller crumbles.
Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 325 F, and continue baking for another 45 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the top is not getting too brown (if it does, cover with foil). you may need to bake it longer, even. I find that baking time can vary wildly, depending on the oven I'm using.
When the top is browned all over, remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool at room temperature for at least one hour, preferably two, before serving. Serve by itself, or with a side of vanilla, cinnamon, butter pecan, or caramel ice cream.