Peach Cream Pie

I haven’t blogged about pie in a dog’s age, but I’ve still been slaving away in the background. I’ve been making a couple of pies a month and since they are all getting rave reviews, I feel pretty good about the pie-making experiment, so I don’t have as much progress to report. Also, I’ve decided that rather than trying a new recipe every time, I want to take six to eight recipes and really make them my specialties. So I’ve mostly been making the same sorts of pies over and over again, and I’ve been very happy, and very full. YUM.

I’ve made lots of Lemon Puff Pies and Strawberry Pies this season, as well as a few plain jane Apple Pies, like this one I made for boys’ poker last week:

Apple Pie

Notice how the cute little cutouts mask the overall ugliness? I’m totally narrowing down that looks-good-AND-tastes-good nirvana point. The filling for this one, by the way, came from my good friend Edna Staebler, and is as follows: around 6 golden delicious apples; 3/4 cup sugar; 2 tablespoons flour; 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg; 1/8 teaspoon salt. Mix together and put in the pie crust, then pour 2 tablespoons milk or cream overtop and dot with 2-3 tablespoons (TABLESPOONS, my word) butter before putting the top crust on.

Highly recommended; everyone loves an apple pie.

On the weekend I made a Peach Cream Pie for the first time, for a BBQ at the Carl Sagans. It was unusual and really good and everyone loved it. Here’s how it looks:

Peach Cream Pie

See? With the cutouts? I’m a pie genius.

This one came from Company’s Coming Pies, and here’s the skinny (or really, the “fat,” HAR HAR HAR).

Pastry for a 2 crust pie

1 cup sour cream
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, fork beaten (I used an egg replacer here, and also, Edna Staebler has a version of this recipe in which she says that if you use the 1/3 cup flour you don’t need an egg at all, so feel free to experiment with replacing or leaving this out)

2 1/2 cups peeled and sliced peaches (I used canned, because I am lazy and I hate peeling peaches – if you go canned you’ll need one 28 oz can of peach slices)

1/4 cup granulated sugar for sprinkling on top (just realized I totally forgot this step – oh well!)

And, action! Roll out your bottom crust and get it into the pie plate. If using canned peaches, drain them well and cut each slice in two or three thinner slices before putting the peaches in the bottom of the crust. If you’re using fresh peaches, you’re on your own, bub.

Mix the sour cream, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and egg/egg replacer (if using) in a bowl and stir it up. Pour over the peaches.

Roll out the top crust and lay it on top; pinch well to seal and cut some slits in the top. Then put on some cutouts if you are super fancy like me.

Oh, and sprinkle with the white sugar, if you are not a bird brain, like me.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake for around 40 minutes more. Then take to a BBQ and have everyone ooh and aah over it.

Peach Cream Pie in a BBQ setting

Julie asked me at BOLO if I was going to have a pie party sometime, and I must say, the thought of having people over for many, many kinds of pie sounds like just the most perfect way ever to celebrate turning 40. So hopefully it’ll happen. I just need to find time to plan it!

Apple Cream Pie

Now this is A Damn Good Pie. I won’t go so far as to call it The Great Pie [1], but it’s A Damn Good Pie.

[1] “The Great Pie” is a reference to the animated children’s show Backyardigans. In one episode, a Pie Samurai and his apprentice attempt to make The Great Pie and serve it to the Queen before it can be stolen by Ninjas. It’s pretty much how I imagine my own life to be.

Exhibit A:

Apple Cream Pie

Pretty, and yet delicious. I think this is the first time I have accomplished both at once.

The crust is the best I’ve ever made. Definitely a solid A. I picked this recipe so I could practice my lattice work, and I really took my time and was very careful, and I’m pretty pleased with the result.

The filling is yummy, too. Take 5 golden delicious apples, peeled and cut up. Toss them with 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Add them to the pie shell and pour 1/2 cup of whipping cream over the top (unwhipped). Then lattice the top, bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes, and voila, Damn Good Pie.

I AM SAMURAI.

This pie was a big hit at my book club meeting last night, but I only managed to move about half the pie, meaning half of a delicious pie remains for just Sir Monkeypants and me. This may not sound like a problem, but last night when I came home with half of a pie, Sir Monkeypants had to sit me down for A Serious Chat. Because as we are getting older and suffering from various injuries and family scheduling issues and too much interest in our television, we are both beginning to put on a little weight. Not so much that we need to panic, not so you’d even notice, maybe. But enough that we realize that if we don’t do anything different, we are both going to weigh 20 pounds more than we do now in about five years, and that is not cool, dawg, not cool at all.

So we have a new rule around here, and that’s that I will only be making pies for special events. Parties, poker, and probably book club. Otherwise, since I seem to be completely unable to give the pie away (MY PRECIOUS) and I definitely can’t bring myself to throw it away (SOLID GOLD DOES NOT GO IN THE GARBAGE), there will be no more making of random pies for no reason.

That’s okay, since I know I’ll still get lots of practice — I’m sure I’ll still be making at least two or three pies a month. And with this pie in particular, I can see that I have really improved. So more pie is coming, just a little less than before.

And hopefully that means a little less of me around the buttocks area, as well.

Blueberry Pie

I love Blueberry Pie. Edna Staebler did not let me down with this one.

I kind of forgot to take photos during the process, but it’s pretty straightforward. Make pastry for a double crust (this week: passable, but I really need to work on my rolling, I rather suck). Prepare your bottom crust as usual.

For the filling, take four cups fresh blueberries (around 4 pints, or 5 pints if they’re a little older and you need to weed out some mushy ones). Wash them and remove any stems. In a separate bowl, cut together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and 3 tablespoons butter.

Stir the crumbs into the blueberries and put them in the pie crust. Then sprinkle overtop with one tablespoon of lemon juice.

Seal up with the other crust. I tried to get fancy this time and put some little cut out hearts on there. Awwwww. Then bake at 450 for 10 minutes, turning it down to 375 for 30 minutes more.

Blueberry Pie

This pie was so very, very good. I’m making this one again SOON.

I must say, though, that I found it to be better the second day. In general I like all my pies better the second day. The filling has more time to really set up and the crust gets a little extra crusty and I like that. Am I alone here? Or are all pies better the second day?

I also wanted to mention that last week for ladies’ poker I remade the Lemon Puff Pie from a few months back. And SO GOOD. There were only four of us at poker and we ate the whole thing. Next time I make that one (and it will be SOON), I’ll post better photos of it and the recipe, too.

Edna, you’re a goddess.

Speaking of which, Mrs. Carl Sagan found a book by Edna Staebler in the Sagan personal library, a sort of memoir, called Sauerkraut and Enterprise. It’s even signed by the great one. I’m reading it now and it really makes me wish I’d met her. She’s my pie-making role model. New on my wish list: every other book she ever wrote.

Maggie’s Peach Pie

Or, as I like to call it, SHIT-DAMN-FUCK Ugly-Ass Peach Pie.

I did not have fun making this pie.

I did not take any pictures of the process, because the air was too blue to see the actual pie.

As I was making it, I swore many, many times that I would never make this pie again. That I would never make another pie again. That pie-making and all those who undertake it were stupid, stupid people. I may have cursed Edna Staebler’s ancestors for eternity.

But you know what? If you close your eyes while eating this ugly-ass pie, it’s not half bad.

First you take a 9 inch unbaked pie shell. This was the first of my problems – my crust this week was, in all seriousness, the worst I have ever made and I have no idea why. It was impossible to roll out, it just kept shredding, and when I finally lifted it to put in the pie plate, it crumbled to pieces.

And there was MUCH swearing.

I eventually pieced it back together and resumed the recipe.

Take 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and 2 tablespoons butter, and cut them into fine crumbs. Sprinkle half the crumbs into the pie shell.

Now place “14 or 15″ peach halves in the shell in a “pretty pattern with the cut sides down.”

Try really, really hard not to go completely insane while trying to push 14 to 15 peach halves into the shell. IT CANNOT BE DONE. As much as I squished and pushed, some always popped up onto the top. And there just wasn’t enough detail in the recipe — was I supposed to have a second layer? There did not seem to be enough peach halves for two layers, but one layer seemed to defy the laws of physics.

GAGH.

Plus, when you’re arranging peach halves in a round pie plate, you can’t fill in all the plate. As in, there are all these weird corners and triangles left over with no peach bits in them. And so I was all worried, what if someone got a bite that was just pastry, and they were SCARRED FOR LIFE?

GAGH.

So I toyed with the idea of cutting the peaches into small chunks but in the end I said FUCK IT, and let them pop up as they saw fit.

Then you sprinkle the other half of the crumbs on top of your crappily arranged peach halves, and then “sprinkle” with two tablespoons lemon juice mixed with 1/4 cup peach juice (reserved from the can if you are using canned peaches, which I was, or you can just use water if you are using fresh peaches, in which case, you have taken this pie to a whole new level of insanity and GOD BE WITH YOU).

The juice ran everywhere and everything got all wet and it didn’t seem very sprinkle like but I no longer cared. Into the oven for 40 minutes at 375 with you!

And here is the result.

Peach Pie

Is this not a truly horrible, ugly pie? I think it looks like alien baby eggs in a nest waiting to hatch.

Luckily you are supposed to smother it with dream whip (or sweetened whipping cream, if you are not lazy like me) before serving, so it can hide the ugliness. And with all that whipped cream on top, it’s actually pretty good.

The thing about this pie is that the crumbs and peach juice congeal into a pretty solid type filling, taking care of all the gaps and things left by the peach halves, so I really did not have to worry about that. As for the halves themselves, I think I should have ignored the recipe and just put in the 11 or 12 peach halves that actually were going to fit. Or else use my larger 9 1/2 inch pie plate.

This pie is so nice and summery and unique, for a peach pie, that I may actually try it again.

Some day when the blue clouds clear up.

Chocolate Mocha Pie

I made this pie for a special anniversary dinner I made for Sir Monkeypants and me on Tuesday. The poker boys only WISH I had made it for them.

Pie crust + chocolate + whipping cream = Chocolate Mocha Pie. It’s rich, it’s chocolately, it’s the kind of treat that makes you want to forsake all other foods. YUM.

First, you make a pie crust and bake it (I bake mine at 450 for about 12 minutes).

Pie Crust

Then, you take 25 big marshmallows and melt them in a pot with 1/2 cup milk. Add 1 cup chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons instant coffee grounds (very important to crush them to a powder first with a rolling pin or the back of a spoon, as a big chunk of coffee in your pie will taste bitter).

Stir until the chocolate chips melt, then remove it from heat to cool:

Yummy chocolate goodness

Once cool, take 1 cup whipping cream and whip it until stiff:

Whipping cream

Then fold it into the cooled chocolate/coffee mixture. Pour the mix into the pie shell and chill several hours and you’ll get this:

SO GOOD

This pie was super easy and super delicious. It’s heavy and rich and would be perfect for a wintertime dinner party. Or an anniversary dinner. Or poker, but na na na na na, poker boys, WE ATE IT ALL.

My only complaint about this pie is that it is not really very pie-like. The crust really takes a back seat to that thick, thick layer of chocolate-mousse-like goodness. Really, you could just take the filling part and chill it in individual little dessert cups and skip the crust altogether, and no one would notice a difference. So while we loved this, and I predict it will become an anniversary tradition, I don’t really consider it good pie-making practice, per se.

Still, SO YUM. It’s a keeper.

Strawberry Pie

After the success of my invented strawberry pie filling a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try a full-sized version this week.

I followed most of my mom’s tips for pastry and I have to admit, it worked really well this week. The bit of extra liquid (6 tablespoons instead of my usual 4) made the dough very soft, and it rolled out so easily and was very workable. The one thing I didn’t do was make it with milk – I used water instead on the off chance that the Captain would want to try it. The finished result was okay – better than my past few efforts, I would say, but you can really taste the difference the milk makes, I think. My version bakes up okay but just isn’t as flavourful as my mother’s.

Here’s the filling going in. It’s made from around 5-6 cups of chopped strawberries, 1 cup sugar (I think I’d use 3/4 cup next time), 1/4 cup flour, and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon.

Strawberry Pie filling

Then I baked it at 375, even though my mother specficially told me to bake pies at 400. I have no explanation or defense for my actions – I was just afraid of burning. My oven bakes a little hot and my mother’s bakes a little cool and so I think it probably balanced out.

Strawberry Pie

It doens’t look like much, does it? I think I need to experiment with some pastry cut-outs or sprinkles of sugar or something to make my pies look a little more dynamic.

Here’s a shot of the last slice left.

Strawberry Pie Slice

So I think this pie was good. I made it for ladies’ poker night and everyone had some and I had lots of compliments. I like the strawberry pie filling very much, but I personally was disappointed – after last weekend’s visit with my mom I expected major improvements in the taste of my crusts. I’d give this one a B at best.

I’m going to try this pie one more time this coming weekend – I’m hosting a lunch for FameThrowa’s fiancee’s parents, and I think it will make a nice summery dessert. We’ll see if I can crank it up to an A.

In other news, while making this pie I also made three dozen banana mini-muffins, and this adorable mini-sized birthday cake for MyFriendJen:

Birthday Cake

Now the cake? Was super yum. I was trying for that prototypical birthday cake with the pink icing and the sprinkles and I was happy with the way it turned out. It’s a keeper!

Mom’s Apple Pie

I had Easter dinner at my mother’s house this past weekend. It was a particularly auspicious occasion since all three of my sisters were there with their families, and it’s fairly rare these days for all four of us to be in one place at the same time.

So of course, my mom had made pie. Four pies, actually.

Much like Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, believing he was ready to face Darth Vader even though incomplete was his training, I swaggered into my mom’s house ready to taste test. I thought, hey, I’ve been making pies for four months now, I’ve got it. I’m ready to see how I stack up against the real thing.

And I got served. Pun intended. I was lucky to emerge without being frozen in carbonite.

My mother’s pie is way, way, way, way better than mine. Sir Monkeypants and I both were like, OH RIGHT, this is how pie is supposed to be! How silly of us.

On Sunday, I talked my mom into making yet another pie with me and I learned about a thousand things I have been doing wrong. She makes her pastry with milk, not water; she bakes her pies at 400 degrees, not 375; she greases the pie plate before loading in the pastry (doh, that seems so obvious now!).

The biggest difference, though, is that she uses much more liquid in her pastry mix than I have been. She freaked me out by dumping at least a half cup of milk in there all at once, and then mixing it up to a nice soft lump like PlayDoh. I’ve been under the impression that the least amount of liquid, the better, and I painstakingly measure out two scant tablespoons of water each time and sprinkle the water ever-so-delicately over the entire thing, until it barely clings together. Apparently, wrong. At least, according to Yoda.

Also my rolling methods leave a lot to be desired, not a surprise. And I don’t use enough sugar in my apple pie filling. And I should use water to seal the edges of the pie, and my mom’s style of crimping is way more effective and faster, and I need to work on my vent cutting technique.

GAH.

So I made an apple pie with my mom, and it was thisclose to being as good as hers, with her close supervision, of course. Here it is (with leftover cherry and apple pie in the background from the previous night’s dinner):

Mom's Apple Pie

I like it that my mom cuts a 9-inch pie into only six pieces. Because that’s the way pie should clearly be served. Testify!

So my mother remains the master, and I’m back in basic training. I’m smarting, but I’ll be making another pie this week anyway and we’ll see how it turns out.

Miniature Apple and Strawberry Pies

I didn’t make a pie post last week, because I remade a pie I’d made before — this Peach Blueberry Pie. It turned out better this time around, I think, although there were the usual issues. I made sure to completely thaw the peaches this time, so they’d cook through, but it turned out that thawing them made a LOT of extra liquid in the filling mix. I was afraid it wouldn’t set up, so I ended up scooping out the peaches and blueberries and putting them in with a minimum of liquid. It worked, in that the pie cooked and the filling wasn’t running all over the place, but it also wasn’t as sweet as last time, so not quite as tasty in my book.

Also, while I was working on the lattice top, Little Miss Sunshine was upstairs decidedly NOT napping. So I was putting down a strip of lattice, then going to the bottom of the stairs to tell the Little Miss to get back in bed, then doing two more strips of lattice, then going upstairs to put her back in the bed, then doing another strip of lattice, then yelling at her to just come down already, and as a result, I put the pie in the oven when the lattice was only half done. OOPS. I know this is a minor thing and really not a big deal at all but for some reason I was kind of upset about it so I didn’t even take a photo. PMS, I’m thinking.

So, on to this week! This week I am trying something new – miniature pies. This is a throwback to my youth, when my mother would make enough pastry dough for three or four pies at a time, and use the leftovers to make a small pie, the size of a meat pie. My sisters and I used to fight over the mini-pie, so eventually my mom started to make one miniature pie for each of us. Then she’d put the pie in our school lunch bag for the next day, and all the kids and teachers would drool as we ate a whole pie.

Oh, man, GOOD TIMES.

I started with the pastry. I had no idea how much to make. I ended up making enough for four single crusts (4 cups cake and pastry flour, 1 1/3 cups shortening, 1 teaspoon salt, just less than 8 tablespoons water), but that was more than enough for the five pies I was planning on. I could easily have made at least seven, maybe eight if I rolled the pastry out thin.

Anyway, I rolled it out and cut circles for the tops and bottoms using a bowl as a pattern and a sharp knife. I put the bottom halves into five meat pie plates:

bottom crusts

Although the pastry rolled out well, working it into the cups was very fiddly, and round about now I was cursing this idea and thinking this had no chance of working. Plus I kind of wrecked my knee doing Wii Fit Rhythm Kung Fu (I rock, I challenge YOU ALL), and I was getting annoyed at how long it I had to stand there trying to whip the pastry into submission.

Tip, if you’re going to make these: don’t bother to preheat the oven until the pastry is rolled and cut. Otherwise, your oven will be twiddling its thumbs and wondering why you never did buy it that iPhone you promised so it could text all its other oven friends while waiting FOREVER for your stupid pies. Trust me.

Then I made up some fillings. I cannot believe how casual I was with these fillings, people. I am the ultimate in follow the recipe, I must know the exact amounts of everything. Don’t be giving me no recipes where you throw in a little of this and a blob of that. NO. I need numbers, and details, and hand-holding all the way.

But for these, I just kind of threw some things in a bowl. I KNOW. I went nuts!

Three pies are apple – I used one apple per mini-pie. Then I added around 1/4 cup sugar (to the three apples, peeled and cut into very small cubes), a couple teaspoon-sized scoops of flour, and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. The other two pies are strawberry – I used around 2 cups of chopped up strawberries with 1/4 cup sugar, a heaping tablespoon of flour, and a very small sprinkle of cinnamon.

Then the fillings went in and the tops went on:

top crusts and fillings

By this time my hair was grey, I’d lost all my teeth, and had two hip replacements. FIDDLY.

I baked them at 375 for 40 minutes, although I could have taken them out five minutes earlier, I think. Very important to rotate the pies around in the oven a few times, and also to bake them on a cookie sheet for your own sanity.

They came out looking pretty good, actually. I took two pictures because in the first one, they just look like a bunch of normal sized pies, don’t you think? So I stuck my hand in there for sizing.

baked pies
baked pies with hand

And then we ate them.

OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY.

Here’s Sir Monkeypants enjoying his apple pie:

Apple pie and milk

They are so good. Amazing. The best pies I’ve ever made. I can’t even decide which I like better. The strawberry is like a giant candy. The apple is exactly like the ones I had in my lunches as a child.

I’m so very, very happy right now.

This weekend I’ll be seeing my mom and she’ll be making pies. Hopefully I can learn something, but at the very least I think I can stand beside her in the kitchen and maybe even (gasp!) help.

The piemaker dream lives! It’s ALIVE!!

Cream and Crumb Schnitz Pie

We’re having such a lovely March break. The weather has been amazing, allowing us to get outside to the park, to the Agriculture Museum, and to the nearby woods to feed the birds. We sleep late, toddle around in PJs for half the day, then snack in the backyard. It’s been awesome, and now I really can’t wait for summer.

Also, my very dear friend Sheila came up to visit for two days — I’ve known her since high school, which is mind boggling. We had a great time together but the best thing of all is that she brought us a gift — a Wii Fit! I really tried hard to be all, “Oh, you shouldn’t have” about it all, but really I was way too excited to fake it. Sir Monkeypants’ face, when he got home to see it, was priceless, a beautiful combo of joy and shock.

I think it’s safe to say that we owe Sheila big time.

I am totally rocking the Wii Fit Yoga. The whole goal is to sit as still as possible for as long as possible. I easily win the goal medal in this event every time. If you put the TV remote in one hand, and a milkshake with a really long straw in the other, I might never have to move again. And the whole time I’d be “working out”! Nintendo is so awesome.

Extra bonus: all those calories I am burning doing Wii Fit Yoga earn me extra pie. Yay, pie!

This week’s pie is an apple based pie called Cream and Crumb Schnitz, courtesy of Edna Staebler’s fantastic book, Pies and Tarts with Schmecks Appeal. “Schnitz” is a Mennonite term that means “cut apples,” and for this kind of pie I believe you are supposed to cut the apples in a certain fancy way and lay them out in a flower-shaped pattern in the pie crust, but I think we can all admit that that just isn’t going to happen for me. Luckily, pie still tastes good even when it isn’t too pretty.

So, we start by making a pie crust and this week’s went terribly. I accidentally dropped the shortening when taking it out of the fridge and it went smush and got all weirdly shaped, so when I tried to cut off a slice that was 1/3 of a cup I think I ended up with too much, and the pastry was all strangely soft and clung together without me even adding any water, so that did not bode well.

However, I was making this pie while “supervising” six children (we had some friends over for playdates) so yeah, I wasn’t in the mood for a second pass. It’ll do, pie, it’ll do.

Once your crust is ready to go, you mix up 1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and 3 tablespoons of softened butter with a pastry cutter to make crumbs. Then take half the crumbs you’ve made and sprinkle them in your (crappy) pie crust:

Crumb step

Then you peel and cut up the apples and lay them on top of the crumbs — anywhere from 4 to 7 apples as required to fill the pie plate. I used five, but in the end the pie is a little shallow so I think I should have used six.

Apple layer

Then, you mix half the remaining brown sugar crumbs (1/4 of the original amount) with 2/3 cup sour cream, and spread it over the top.

Cream layer

This step was a little iffy for me. First of all, the recipe said you could use “sour or sweet” cream, and that was confusing, becuase aren’t they very different in terms of consistency? So then I thought, maybe you’re supposed to whip the sweet cream first, so it’s stiff like sour cream. But then the recipe says to “pour over apples” and sour cream isn’t really pour-able, which is weird. So then I thought, maybe they mean more like buttermilk than real sour cream, so it’s runny.

And in the end, after much dithering and hand-wringing, I said, SCREW IT, used some sour cream I had in the fridge, and spread it over the top with the back of a spoon. Because I’m a natural born baker and I follow my gut!

WHATEVER, Lynn.

Okay, then you take the remaining crumbs (1/4 the original amount) and mix it with 3/4 tsp, more or less, of cinnamon. Then sprinkle this mix over the top of everything like so:

Crumb layer

And then you bake it at 420 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 350 and bake for 30 minutes more:

All done

This pie was for Sir Monkeypants’ poker night, which meant I only got one piece for myself. And that was a good thing, because OH MY, so yummy. It’s apple pie, but with just a hint of extra creaminess and sweetness. It would take a LOT of yoga to work off this baby if it were staying in the house.

I am starting to really regret the fact that Edna Staebler died a couple of years ago, because if I had the chance I would totally write her a fan letter and let her know how her pies are changing my life. She is amazing. I now have all her other cookbooks on my wish list.

Maybe I will sneak another little sliver before I let the poker boys have at it.

Pear Streusel Pie

I made this pie last Friday. Gal Smiley was having a terrible day. On the one hand, it was the Captain’s birthday, and he was getting all sorts of presents from his relatives, toys and games and art supplies all over. On the other hand, the Little Miss was improving at using the potty, which meant that she was getting chocolately treats all day long.

Trapped between toys and chocolate, Gal Smiley was triply unimpressed when her mother decided to waste all afternoon making horrible, awful, no-good pie. LIFE IS NOT FAIR.

Anyway. I decided to make a Pear Pie since I love pears, and I think they don’t show up in desserts often enough. I like my pears to be Bartletts, and to be very, very hard. That’s because we had a pear tree just beyond the back fence at my house when we were growing up, a leftover from when the area was a farm. The pears would appear in the late summer, tiny little things that were sour, unripe, and rock hard. My sisters and any visiting friends would hop the fence and grab a pear, then spend all afternoon gnawing on it. Good times.

So the pie, which by the way is from Company’s Coming Pies, started with the making a bottom crust:

crust

This was, again, the best crust I’ve ever made. When I started this project I despaired of ever making any kind of progress, but these past few weeks I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of it. At the very least, I no longer shake with fear and anger while making pastry, so I’d say that was a step in the right direction. This one was made with shortening, again, so I may never go back to lard. I’ve seen the light!

Then I continued with peeling and cutting up 7 Bartlett pears:

pears

That’s an hour of my life, right there. Pears are somehow much more difficult to peel than apples. While I was cutting up the pears, I realized that they were really, really, hard. That’s good for eating (for me, at least), but I started to worry that they were not going to melt into soft sweetness inside the pie. I cut them quite thin to compensate.

So you toss the pear slices with 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and then dump that into the unbaked pie crust.

Then mix 1/4 cup corn syrup with 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, and pour that over the top of the pears. Around now is when I realized that yes, this is a dessert.

Now for the topping! Mix 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup butter or margarine (I cut them together with a pastry cutter). Sprinkle it over the top.

Then bake at 350 degrees on the bottom shelf 60 to 70 minutes until the pears are cooked. Here’s the result:

with topping

Now, this is where we took a turn for the worse, in that after 70 minutes, the pears were still quite crunchy and firm in there, as I feared. However, the crust was very brown and starting to burn, and since I don’t have one of those pastry tenter-protector things that is for cases like this, I had to take the pie out.

So the end result is this:

slice

Yet another pie that looks really fantastic, but is only so-so to eat.

I was originally planning on gifting this pie to Pauline at Brightest Blue, as we have been trying to set up a pie exchange forever. Life got in the way last week, however, and by Friday I still couldn’t figure out a time to get over to her place, so I ended up just eating it. And good thing too, seeing as how it wasn’t my best effort.

And yet, I still ate it. Must be because the hard pears make me nostalgic.

I’d make this pie again, using riper pears (or, in an emergency situation, steaming them a bit first).

This week: I was planning on a tortiere, but Sir Monkeypants has poker, and the poker boys have come to expect a sweet pie on poker night. So I’ll make something dessert-like this week instead. Stay tuned!