Friday, November 22, 2013

Apple Pear Pie with Gingerbread Crust

The day after I got engaged, I felt like baking some celebration pie. To celebrate love, to celebrate my friend's 30th birthday that night, and to celebrate getting back into baking after leaving the low glycemic diet. Personally, I'm not big on pies, but many people in my life are, so I'm trying to see what the big deal is.

What I really want to make is a pie with a cookie dough crust. Have you ever heard of that? I've scoured the internet and only seen it done once. I didn't want to get too experimental with a pie I needed to bring to a party, so I made a relatively regular pie crust with gingerbread flavors.

The gingerbread was more subtle than I was going for, however. You could try doubling the molasses and sugar in the dough. The apples and pears definitely work nicely together, but the fresh ginger is what really jazzed it up. This pie still didn't convert me, but the pie lovers enjoyed it. I will make a cookie dough pie this winter, mark my words.

Also, making pie is a lot of work. I guess that's another reason I make it so infrequently. It took something like three hours start to finish. Reading through a recipe seems deceptively simple, but every step has to be done carefully, taking dough in and out of the fridge throughout, and just the acts of chopping the butter and the fruit are time consuming. I follow Smitten Kitchen's principles for preparing and rolling out pie dough, which are rather involved but have always guided me to success.

One step I have improved upon is that I start by dicing my butter really small - even smaller than the half inch cubes that Deb recommends - more like 1/8 inch cubes. Even though the pieces start to stick together when you cut them that small, it still makes it easier to incorporate the butter into the dough later using only a fork and hands, without a food processor or pastry cutter.

Meanwhile, it's now been about two weeks since we got engaged. We got right on the planning train, but have stalled out since we can't seem to decide on the date. Have the wedding in June and have the rest of the summer free to enjoy normal summery things, but have a really busy late spring leading up to the wedding? Or have it in late July, when my favorite flowers are out and we can plan at a relaxed pace and have time for bachelor/ette weekends away beforehand, but the summer will winding down when we get back from honeymooning? There are other pros and cons to each. How does one decide? Flipping a coin?

Apple Pear Pie with Gingerbread Crust
Gingerbread Crust 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water

Dice butter into tiny 1/8" pieces and set aside in the fridge. Whisk together flour, salt, spices, baking soda and sugar. Combine 2 tbsp molasses and 2 tbsp water in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl and stir to dissolve molasses in water. Prepare additional water by filling a liquid measuring cup with another half cup of water and drop in an ice cube. Using a pastry cutter, fork, or just your hands, work in the butter until it's consistently the size of tiny peas throughout. Now drizzle in the molasses-water, and stir until it starts to come together as a dough. Drizzle in more water as needed and knead with your hands. Divide the dough into two balls and put it aside in the fridge.

Apple Pear Filling 3 apples
3 pears
juice and zest from one small lemon
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cups brown sugar
3 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, beaten lightly with 1 tbsp water for egg wash
1 tbsp white granulated sugar

Peel and chop apples and pears into 1/4" slices. Toss with other filling ingredients. Preheat oven to 500 F. Grease a pie dish. Follow Smitten Kitchen's principles for rolling out pie dough. Prepare the pie by laying the bottom dough layer in the pie dish, top with the filling, and then top with the upper pie dough layer. Slice some vents in crust. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 475 for 15 min with foil on. Remove foil, reduce to 425 and bake for another 30 min.

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