I’m so crazy for fall right now, that I just entered an Autumn Pie Contest on Food 52. My first ever pie contest too! I’m so crazy in fact, I was up making this pie and writing the recipe until 11:30 last night – a half an hour before the submissions were due! I’m also so crazy that I might just have some of this pie for breakfast, because quite frankly it’s pretty awesome.
This was a lengthy and costly endeavor, because I was set on buying Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans and $10 Gruyere cheese and these adorable little fall leaf pie crust cutter stamps from Williams-Sonoma, which were so necessary. I want to make more pies just because of these little guys. They’re fun and will make your pie look like it was made by a professional baker. Normally, when I tackle a recipe for the first time, it takes longer and doesn’t always come out so swimmingly. But when the pie cooled enough for me to dive into it with my fork without burning the roof of my mouth, much to my surprise, I discovered that it was a success.
And the house smelled like gourmet Cheez-Its. As soon as I could smell that gruyere melting into the buttery pie crust, I knew the crust at least was on the right track. The only slight trouble I had was the leaves I placed on the edges of the pie got a little droopy and some fell off in the oven. I’ll have to be careful not to put them too far on the edge next time.
During my research, I perused a couple apple pear pies and crust recipes online and developed my own – something I don’t have much experience with but want to work on. I was inspired by an episode of Pushing Daisies, where Chuck makes a pear pie with gruyere baked into the crust for her aunts. (Mine was free of any mood enhancers), though I did think that a fresh vanilla bean, infused with the butter, would make a nice bed of luxurious flavor for the pears and apples. (I kept he pod in the pan too, just because it looked nice).
A Pear of Apples Pie (makes 8 servings)
For the Crust (Makes a double 9 inch crust)
- 2 ½ cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. of salt
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp. of cider vinegar
- About 1/3 cup of ice cold water
- 1 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese
For the filling:
- 4 pears – peeled (I used two bosc and two bartletts)
- 3 golden delicious apples (cored and peeled)
- ½ stick of unsalted butter
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
- ¼ cup of granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean (split open, seeds scraped)
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp. and ½ tsp. of corn starch
For the crust:
Place a medium sized bowl and fork in the freezer. Combine the flour, salt and shredded gruyere in a bowl, mixing the cheese into the flour mixture with your hands. Dice the butter into ¼ inch pieces. Place butter and the flour-cheese mixture in a large zip lock bag, seal and roll over with a rolling pin until the butter is combined. Place the bag in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Pour the ingredients from the bag into the cold bowl and work together with your fingertips or/and the cold fork until the mixture becomes pebbly. Gradually drizzle the ice water (excluding the ice) and the vinegar over the mixture, blending with your fingertips and the fork. Add more water if necessary – a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the right consistency.
Form two discs out of the dough, working each in your palm. Wrap them each tightly with saran wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
When the filling is ready, roll one of the discs out onto a floured surface, dusting it with flour as you work. Transfer to the pie pan, pressing the dough into it and leaving about an inch of overhang. Crimp or style however you like. Add the filling. Roll out the second disc the same way and place it over top the pie, making a few slits in the center or, if you choose to cut out decorative leaves, you can place them on top of the filling instead. Make an egg wash, using 1 egg yolk and a splash of milk and brush over the pie crust. Sprinkle with some demura sugar. Wrap some foil on the edges of the crust (so they don’t burn).
Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.
For the filling:
Cut the peeled and cored pears and apples into inch size pieces and place them in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the fruit, sugars, spices, salt, vanilla and vanilla bean seeds and pod. Stir and simmer on medium to medium-low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then remove from heat, stir in the corn starch and let the filling cool to room temperature.