So, this winter has been terribly cold (however the snow has yet to show up where I am, but tomorrow’s forecast is promising!), and I’m in a brand new house, which I’m learning is a little finicky to heat. So without a fireplace to cuddle up by, my solution has been to bake. Staying up and active, and near a warm oven has delayed the inevitable purchase of a space heater. Last week my quest for warmth headed in the direction of pie… specifically, a Cranberry Pear Pie with a Pecan Crumb Topping.
Oh my word, this one is tasty! The sweetness of the pears is the perfect counterpoint to the tang of cranberries. FYI: I highly recommend using fresh or frozen cranberries, because the quantities of sugar is added into dried cranberries keep you from experiencing this amazing flavor and color combo at its best.
A quick encouragement to those of you who are averse to making fruit pies because of the copious amounts of peeling usually involved (namely me), this Cranberry Pear Pie is WAY easier than an apple or peach pie… Just a few pears and you’re done!
My favorite pie pan is a clear pyrex pan, because I can see what’s happening to the bottom crust as it bakes. I also have a beautiful ceramic plate, but so many times just 5 to 10 more minutes in the oven would have turned my pasty, soggy, undercooked crust into golden, flaky perfection. After a few trial and errors with a clear pie plate, you learn the exact shade the crust will be when your pie is finished baking. Save your beautiful ceramic plate for serving dishes like Blueberry Monkey Bread.
Also, I just hit the jackpot at Target today! They have a cute little heart-shaped pie cutter and crimper to make personal hand pies in the shape of a heart… I do believe I know what I’m making the hubby for Valentine’s Day! I will share it with you once I decide what type of filling to go after next 🙂
7 tablespoons unsalted butter (shredded with a cheese grater onto a plate and placed for 30 minutes in the freezer)
4 tablespoons shortening, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water (you may need more depending on the humidity of the day)
4 Bosc (or Bartlett) pears, peeled & cored, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, separated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup chopped pecans (Michele Stuart used walnuts)
First create the dough for the crust; in a food processor pulse to combine the flour, sugar and salt.
Add the chilled butter shreds to the food processor and pulse 7 times to begin incorporating the butter and flour.
Add the chilled shortening and pulse until the mixture has reduced the butter and shortening to lentil-sized lumps. **Be sure not to over-combine it, so you will end up with a flaky crust.
Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly to incorporate each one. At this point, you can assess whether the dough is beginning to form, or if it needs another tablespoon or two of water.
Before the dough holds together entirely, turn out the mixture onto a clean surface, and combine it into a ball (if it can't hold together, sprinkle a little more water over it).
Wrap the ball up in plastic wrap, flattening the ball into a disc, and then leave it to chill in the fridge at least 1 hour.
Towards the end of your chilling time, combine the cranberries and sugar for the filling into the food processor and pulse until the cranberries are roughly chopped.
In a large bowl, mix the diced pear and sugar-covered cranberries together with the sugar, lemon juice, and orange zest, allowing the mixture to sit and develop at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg.
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