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Pears are one of our favorite winter baking fruits. From tarts and turnovers to cake and pie, their distinctive taste pairs well with a variety of other flavors -- in this case, ginger. This recipe is also very good made with apples, or a mixture of pears and apples.
A variation on a Pennsylvania Dutch favorite, this is best described as a deep-dish pie-cake. You'll need an unbaked, 9-inch pie shell that's at least 1 1/2 inches deep. Use your favorite recipe, or the following pie crust recipe.The pastry crust holds layers of pears, topped by a custard filling, topped by cake batter. To really appreciate this dessert, serve it warm with a dab of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
1 1/2 cups (6 1/2 ounces) Mellow Pastry Blend or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon dried buttermilk powder (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) vegetable shortening or lard
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 to 5 tablespoons cold water
3 to 4 pears (1 1/4 pounds), peeled, cored and chopped (about 3 cups)*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or allspice
3 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sugar
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) golden syrup or light corn syrup
3/4 cup (5 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter or margarine
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) minced candied or crystallized ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom or nutmeg
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (5 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) sliced almonds (optional)
Crust: For the flakiest crust, chill all the pie crust ingredients -- even your bowl and utensils -- for at least 30 minutes. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and buttermilk powder. Using a pastry blender, pastry fork, your fingers or a mixer, cut in the chilled butter and vegetable shortening (or fresh lard, if you can find it). Don't over-blend the mixture; leave baby pea-sized lumps of butter.
Mix the vinegar with 3 tablespoons of the water, and sprinkle this over the flour mixture. Press the dough together, gathering in any crumbs from the bottom of the bowl. If the dough isn't cohesive, spritz it with a little water from a plant mister. Don't worry if it's a bit lumpy; just shape it into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.
Roll out the dough until it's about 14 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick. Lay the dough into a deep-dish pie pan (9 x 1 1/2 inches) and trim excess dough, folding the edges of the dough under and onto the lip of the pie pan. Crimp the dough artfully to form a high edge to hold the filling. Refrigerate the crust until you're ready to use it.
Custard Filling: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the filling ingredients until they're well-blended. Set the mixture aside while you make the cake filling.
Cake Filling: Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until they're light in color. Add the baking powder, salt, baking soda, ginger, and cardamom or nutmeg. Beat in the sour cream, egg and vanilla. Last, add the flour and mix until blended.
Assembly: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Spoon the chopped pears into the pie crust. Pour the custard filling over the pears. Dollop scoops of the cake batter over the custard. Don't worry if these dollops of batter sink about halfway -- they're supposed to. Sprinkle the top with sliced almonds, if desired. Cover the edges of the crust with a pie crust shield or a band of aluminum foil.
Baking: Bake the pie-cake at 400°F for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350°F and bake for an additional 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and has set. Remove the pie-cake from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack. Yield: one deep-dish pie, 12 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1 piece, 143g): 384 cal, 19g fat, 6g protein, 30g complex carbohydrates, 21g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 82mg cholesterol, 233mg sodium, 168mg potassium, 102RE vitamin A, 3mg vitamin C, 2mg iron, 88mg calcium, 139mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XIII, No. 2, Winter 2002 issue.