Oh, pie. Those of you who know me well know of my pie obsession, an obsession that has no obvious root but was suddenly sparked about ten years ago. Back then, I never baked them, just fully enjoyed their comforting taste, frequently given to me for free by a rebellious waitress at a local diner. A couple years down the line, pie nights with friends began, a gathering in which each of us would bring our favorite pie (I used to joke that I could easily guess a person's favorite by what their personality was like). And then Los Angeles' House of Pies was discovered, which quickly became a weekly spot for friends to play board games and laugh over flaky pie crust. As you can see, pie eating was a part of my social life.
Even with all that pie love back then, it wasn't until I baked a pie from scratch all by myself that I truly discovered my deep love. I do not mean buying a frozen crust and a can of filling, but working a dough together with my hands, rolling it out, chopping the fruit, adding the spices & sugar, and putting it all together. What can I say? It is easily one of my favorite ways to spend my time. I am quite sure I could do it every single day and be perfectly content.
With this fact about myself, it was no surprise that I fell madly for the television show Pushing Daisies. If you have yet to see it, the show revolves around a sweet pie-maker by the name of Ned who has the power to bring the dead back to life by a single touch, but only for a minute or someone close-by will die in their place. He lives above his pie shop, humorously called "The Pie Hole", with the love of his life, a vintage dress-clad girl by the name of Chuck, his childhood sweetheart who he brought back to life and cannot touch or she will die again. The show is beautiful and quirky, fairy-tale-like, mysterious, and has the set of a pie-lover's dream.
While flipping through an issue of Martha Stewart Living, I happily came across an advertisement for Pushing Daisies that featured a scrumptious-sounding pie recipe. It was quickly torn out of the magazine and hung on my fridge for a day when I had all of the ingredients, which happened to be yesterday. On the recipe, it is just called a Pear Pie, but it is much more than that. To me, it is the perfect holiday pie, stuffed full of fresh pears, cranberries, and toasted pecans, which ended up being a delicious combination of tart and sweet flavors. I guess Ned the Piemaker knows his pies.
*A sad note: Ironically, this pie was baked on the day that it was officially announced that Pushing Daisies is being canceled. Now it's time to go cry in my pie.
Ned and Chuck's Perfect Pear Pie
1 pie dough for 2 crusts (in the original recipe, there are ingredients for one, but I used my favorite, which can be found here)
1 cup pecan pieces, toasted
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 1/2 pounds pears, peeled, cored, cut into medium pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, in pieces
2 tablespoons instant tapioca
1 large eggs
sanding sugar (optional)
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of your dough to a 12-inch circle. Brush off excess flour. Fit dough to a 9-inch pie dish. Press edges down around the inside. Trim dough to a half inch over the dish. Roll out remaining half of dough. Transfer disk to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill pie shell and disk of dough. If desired, roll out the remaining dough scraps into a thin disk. Cut out shapes with a small leaf cutter. Chill the leaves on the baking sheet with the disk of dough.
In a large bowl, combine the pecans, cinnamon, salt, sugar, cranberries, pears, butter, and tapioca. Toss well. Transfer the mixture to the cold pie shell.
Whisk the egg with 2 teaspoons of water. Brush the egg glaze around the rim of the dough. Transfer the cold disk of dough on top, press down gently. Press the top and bottom pieces of dough together, around the rim. Trim the top dough with scissors to about 1 inch. Fold it under. Crimp the edge of the pie as desired. Brush the surface of the pie with the egg wash. Make 3 slits in the top for steam to escape. If using, apply the cold leaves to the top of the pie with the egg wash. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the top if desired. Freeze the pie for 30 minutes to firm up the butter. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third.
Bake until the crust begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake until the crust is richly golden brown, rotating as needed, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire cooling rack. Cut when cool. Pie may be kept and room temperature up to 2 days, lightly covered with plastic wrap.
this slice was perfect, but Alice couldn't resist grabbing a chunk of the fabulous crust.