Monday, September 1, 2008

The Contessa Apple Pear Pie

Growing up, my mom used to make the most amazing pies (and still does.) My favorite of all time had to be her pear pie. I never realized a pear pie was a bit unusual until I got to be an adult and would tell people that it was my favorite. Most of the time their response was something like "I never even thought of putting pears in a pie!" Really, it's not that strange, just think of the best apple pie you've ever had -- and times it by 3 and then you have a pear pie. They are GREAT!

So, my brother in law Dave came in town today and I wanted to make something for dessert tonight, but nothing sounded fun. Then, at the store I noticed pears were 3 pounds for a buck. Whoohoo!! Pear pie it was. I loaded up the pears, but when I got home I felt a bit guilty when I unloaded the groceries and realized I had a half a drawer of apples in my fridge. Most of them were past the Princess Sydney approved crispiness, so I figured they needed to be put into the pie, too. So here you go, my recipe for Apple-Pear Pie. This isn't some earth shattering recipe and you won't find any super huge secrets. Just a good recipe the way I like to make it:
The Vanessa Contessa Apple Pear Pie

3 good baking apples
5 bartlett pears
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS lemon juice
3 TBS butter

pie crust
1 egg for egg wash
sugar for crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and slice apples and pears however you so desire. In a large bowl, combine apples, pears, lemon juice, salt and vanilla. Mix well until all the apples are coated. Next add the sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well again until everything is evenly coated.

Next, your going to want to spread out your pie crust into a pie pan. Now, for this (and for most of my pies) I use store bought pie crust. I know, I hear the shrieks of anger now. Yes, I am well aware that homemade pie crust is WAY better, but frankly I just don't have the patience--and I have very HOT hands, so I can't ever work with it for very long. (Plus, it's sad, but very often I can get a ready made pie crust on sale at $2 but the butter is up to 4 freakin' bucks a box!!) Phew... I'm done.

Pour the apple/pear mixture into the pie crust and then cube up 3 TBS of butter and strategically place them throughout in order to achieve maximum butter goodness.

Next, place the second pie crust on top and then crimp sides. You can make sure to crimp them super nice and neat, or if your like me, you can just crimp them however which way they'll go 'cuz this point you'll just want to get the dang thing in the oven already. Make a few slices on top of the pie to let out steam.

Finally, you'll want to make a wash for the crust. I use and egg wash. I egg beaten up with a bit of water and then brush it onto the top. Very last, I always sprinkle some sugar on top of the just brushed crust. Now, here's my super secret. For the last two years, my mom has picked up some fancy shmancy Maui gold sugar in the raw for me on her Hawaiian vacation. I LOVE the stuff. I ration it out for as long as possible and only use it for very special purposes. One of those purposes is to sprinkle on my apple pie. It's awesome. It gives is a very nice flavor and a nice crunch on the crust. I love it. You can use regular sugar or you can also substitute sugar in the raw.

I usually bake it for about 45 minutes. The other trick I do is to put on little foil tents on the edge of the crust BEFORE it goes in the oven and then I take them off exactly half way through the baking time. This has always yielded a perfectly browned crust.

Let it cool for and hour!! This is uber-important. I think it probably has to do with the fact that the juices of the fruit and the flour need time to thicken, but if I ever cut into it too soon, I always end up with a watery mess.

Serve it with whipped cream or, for the extra adventurous, a thin slice of cheddar cheese melted on top (trust me--it's awesome.)



allyn said...

i heart pear pie. i have a caramel PEAR TORT RECIPE (BANKS LIKES TO SEE THE ALL CAPS LIGHT SHINE, sorry). it is THE bEst!!! I AM POSITIve That IF yOUr MOm makes tHIS oNe, it IS fantastic.
i AM tre jealous of your 3lbs for a $. no such thing over here. curse you, california, for having such wonderful produce and not making it convenient and cheap for the rest of us!

Amylouwho said...

I am so making this! (I'm with you on the store bought pie crust). I have a recipe for white cheddar apple pie that is delish. You just layer a bunch of shredded cheese under the top crust! Let me know if you want it.

Yes - I'm with Allyn on cursing CA for it's good cheap produce. We don't know what that is over here. . .

Erin J. said...

I can't wait to try this! I have pear and apple trees and I've needed ideas on what to make with them. You're pie looked great! Can't wait!

joanna said...

My momma's pear pie was second only to her peach (my very favorite.) This sounds like a delicious combo! By the way, your peach cobbler was excellent...did I tell you that yet? I'm passing the recipe on to my sis. C. really loves a lot of "crumbly" stuff on top so it was perfect proportions.
Talk to you soon!

Maggie said...

I get a ton of pears from my father in law's garden and make pear and ginger pie. I've never tried it with apples as well it sounds great.

Krystal said...

I linked to your blog from txmommy's site. I just wanted to tell you that your recipes sound so delicious. (This one and your Twilight cupcake recipes too). You sound like you are an extraordinary baker. I hope you don't mind if I check your blog once in while to read your posts and recipes. :)

Contessa Vanessa said...

You are welcome her whenever you so desire! It's a little haven for all us mommy's... enjoy the recipes!

Debbie said...

Vanessa, will you bring your chili pepper cupcakes to recipe exchange, PLEASE.....

Lisa Michelle said...

That pie looks it should be on a magazine cover, Vanessa! I sure wish I had some of it now *sigh*

BTW, your 'evil genius' above is fooling us all with her incredible beauty :D