Week 5: pear pie with a whole heap o’ hazelnut crumble topping

I wasn’t even aware that people were in the habit of making pies with pears. Fancy French pear tarts, yes. I made plenty of those through my years in the Belgian bakery. Pear pies, though, this I had never experienced. So I went looking for some help and I found it here:

Ken Haedrich has more than a dozen recipes for pies with pears in them. Pear and fig pie. Pear and apple pie. Pear and cranberry. But I went pure this week. Just pear. Pear with hazelnut crumble topping. This combo said September to me. I also tried Ken’s basic flaky crust recipe, which I didn’t find to be as flaky or as tender or as easy to handle as Good Egg’s. I guess sometimes you get lucky and you come across something pretty much perfect the first time. I couldn’t wait for the pears to ripen, so I just went ahead with them, crunchy as they were. I treated it as an experiment. Would this pie still taste pear-ish, even with unripe fruit? Answer: yes. Next time I’d try to be patient and wait for juicier pears, since I think it would improve both the flavour and texture of the filling, but in a pinch, it works. And the crumble topping? I think I might just need to bake off a batch of it on a sheet tray and eat it by the handful. The hazelnuts add a whole extra layer of richness. You may find yourself stealing bits off the top of the pie as it cools. Maybe.

Just stick with Good Egg’s best crust recipe and method. It’s easy and impressive.

Filling (adapted from Pie)

5 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and sliced ripe pears
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter

Crumble

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1. While the pie shell is chilling in the fridge, combine the ingredients for the filling in a bowl to allow the juices to come out (except the 2 tbsp butter).
2. Turn the filling into the pie shell, dot with the 2 tbsp butter, and place the pie in the center of the oven and bake for 35 minutes at 400º.
3. Make the crumble: put the toasted nuts and the sugar into a food processor and pulse until the nuts are evenly chopped but not super fine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse. Scatter the butter over and pulse to make medium crumbs. Empty this into a bowl and rub it between your fingers to make larger crumbs. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
4. Take out the pie and reduce the temperature to 375º. Put the crumbs over the fruit, spreading evenly. Press them down lightly and put the pie back into the oven. You might want to put a foil-lined tray on the rack under the pie to catch any drips. Bake until the juices bubble thickly, 35-40 minutes. Cover the pie loosely at the end if it is browning too much.
5. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before cutting.

Want a slice?

A little pear pie music:

Blue ribbon for sneak-worthy hazelnut crumble

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