There is something about Autumn that brings out the “cozy’. Wool sweaters, roaring fires, thick down comforters, and hearty peasant food. The following recipe is a perfect example of pie “gone native”…..after all, what did people do before pie pans were a buck each at the Dollar Tree? They improvised, that’s what! And with delicious and beautiful results. 🙂
Rustic Pear Tart
1/3 c. boiling water
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
4 ice cubes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into smaller pieces
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
4- 5 Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced (roughly 4 cups)
NOTE: This can also be made with apples, plums, peaches, whatever fresh fruit you have on hand.
1/2 cup dried cherries (I used a mix of cherries, currants and cranberries.)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup apple jelly (I used what I had on hand- apricot- and it was wonderful. Feel free to improvise.)
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
Milk or Half-n-Half
Line a baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
In a small bowl, pour the boiling water and saffron threads; let stand till ready to add to crust mix (ahead). In a large bowl stir together the 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the ICE-COLD butter until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal with pea-sized globs of butter throughout. Throw 4 ice cubes into the saffron water to chill. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, one teaspoon of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of the saffron water and beat with a fork. Sprinkle this mix into the flour-butter mixture using a fork to toss gently. Add one tablespoon of saffron ice water at a time to the dough until the mixture begins to stick together. Dump out onto a piece of parchment paper and press til it forms a cohesive chunk of dough. Fold the dough over on itself three or four times to bring it together. This folding process helps create layers, which translate into flakiness. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For filling, gently toss together the pears (or whatever fruit you choose) with the dried fruits, one Tablespoon sugar, cardamom, lemon juice, minced ginger, one tablespoon flour, a dash of salt and the jam or preserves that have been softened in either the microwave or in a small pan over a low flame on the stove. After gently combining, set aside.
Pull dough out of the fridge and dump out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a circle approximately 13′ across. Gently transfer to the center of the parchment-covered baking sheet. Now spoon the fruit mixture into the middle of the disk, leaving a 2′ wide border of dough. Fold dough up and over fruit mixture, pleating as needed and leaving the center uncovered. Spoon any remaining liquid from the fruit into the center of the “pie”. Brush the exposed edges of pie crust with half-n-half and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes turning the pan once in the middle of the time. (I set a timer because I know I’m going to forget if I don’t!) Cool before serving. Ice cream makes an excellent accompaniment to this little dessert.
Rating from the resident Recipe Tester? “Mmmmmm, garble, chomp chomp. This is like a fancy restaurant $20 dessert. Chomp, slurp.”
Heh. I guess that means it’s good. 🙂