Ginger is one of the most soothing, yet also invigorating spices we humans have discovered. We use it in both savory cooking and sweet baking. We drink it hot in tea, and cold in soda. We make ginger ale, and ginger beer. We even add ginger to our bath soaps and shampoos.
Ginger can also lay claim to being one of the spices most often hailed as medicinal to humans. It's been said to ease motion sickness, lower cholesterol, raise low blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. Old wives' tales say ginger is an antiseptic, anti-nausea, antiviral, antifungal, anticlotting analgesic, anti "wind" miracle. I'm no doctor, so I can't speak to those claims but ginger is a delicious, versatile spice that is gaining in popularity every day.
This Ginger Pear Pie makes the most of two different types of ginger, plus sweet fresh pears. The fruit season is oh-so-fleeting here in New England, so when we have fresh produce we want to take advantage of it.
I especially love the puff pastry crust on this pie. For those of you who still feel pie-crust challenged, this may be just the answer you're looking for. It comes together in a snap, and makes enough for two pies.
Let's dive in to Ginger Pear Pie.
For the crust, cut the cold butter into the flour. Work some pieces in very finely, but also leave some pieces large, the size of chickpeas or beans.
Using a light touch, stir in the sour cream. Don't over-mix or overwork the dough.
As the dough begins to hold together, dump it onto a clean work surface...
...and gently knead it a few times to bring the pieces together into one ball. No need to knead firmly, a light touch is best.
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough to a rectangle approximately 8” x 11”. A standard sized piece of paper makes a good reference.
Fold the dough in thirds as you would a business letter. Turn the “letter” so that the folded ends are at the top and bottom, and repeat the rolling and folding process.
Each roll and fold combination is called a turn. After these two turns, wrap your dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before using. You can store the dough up to overnight in the fridge before using, or freeze airtight at this point. The dough will hold very nicely in the freezer for up to 3 months.
While the dough is chilling, let's make filling. (Sounds like a baker's rap song!)
Place the raisins and diced ginger in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the fruit is plump.
The filling at this point is so fragrant you don't think it can get any better, but wait... there's more!
Bring on the pears. You'll need 6 medium pears, or 5 large. These are d'Anjou pears, but you could certainly try other varieties if you favor them.
Peel, core and chop the pears. You're looking for dice-sized pieces. Too small and you'll end up with “pearsauce.”
Add the pears to the pot with the raisins and diced ginger.
No, I haven't been out picking nuts and twigs for my pie. On the left is a whole nutmeg, and on the right is our new dried ginger root. By having the dried whole spiced to grate or grind yourself, you get the freshest flavor in your baked goods.
Just hold the ginger root firmly in your fingers and rub back and forth over the holes of the grater.
Just a few quick rubs, and you'll have a nice pile of fresh, fragrant ginger ready to go. Use the same method for the whole nutmeg, too.
The best thing about whole fresh spices is their shelf life. Pre-ground spices lose their potency in about 6 months. The whole spices last twice as long, and often longer.
Add the butter, sugar, lemon juice, thickener, and spices. In this photo, I hadn't put the pears in yet, but do make sure they're in there before you start simmering the filling.
Simmer the filling for another 15 minutes, just enough to soften the pears, but not so long as to turn them to mush.
While the filling simmers, take half of your dough from the fridge. This is enough dough to cover one 9" pie, or four 6" pies. Freeze the rest of your dough for another day, it's great to have on hand.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4” thickness. You'll want to cut the puff pastry while it is cold, so no dilly-dallying.
Cut circles of dough about 1” smaller than the top of your pie pan. So, 8” for a 9” pie, etc. I'm using these cute little stainless steel pie pans, so I'm cutting smaller circles.
Brush the tops of the cold dough with beaten egg, sprinkle with some sparkling sugar, and lay the dough pieces over the pie filling. Bake in a 350°F oven until the filling is hot and bubbly and the pastry is puffed and golden brown.
Serve warm. A touch of whipped cream or a bit of vanilla ice cream is lovely with this pie.
Looking for another delicious way to serve this filling and puff pastry? Try turnovers.
Cut several rounds of dough, about 4 inches across.
Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of each circle, brush the edge with egg wash, and seal with a fork. You may need to smush the filling a bit so that the pear pieces don't poke holes in the tender dough.
Brush the tops of the turnovers with egg wash, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown.
What a decision! To make the pie first, or the turnovers? Flip a chocolate coin, and off you go!
Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Ginger-Pear Pie or Turnovers.