Monday, July 26, 2010

Crispy Fresh Japanese Pear Pie

Nothing is better than a fresh homemade scratch pie.  But, who really wants to bake on a hot summer day.  But it's time to crop my Japanese  NIJU-IiSEIKI NASHI - "21st Century" Pears.  Sadly, out of 60 pears, only 1 was good enough to eat whole.  The rest got the dear ants and bird bites before they got ripe ... how did they know???  which one is the sweetest.... well, they got to them all - all are sweet.  They could have shared some with me.  Selfish bugs...  And as for some, for whatever reason, the sun burned them down.  They just dropped off the tree.  Since this pear tree is only 3 summers old, I am not expecting a lot.  The spring pear blossoms were a beautiful sight, though.   I gathered what's left on the tree and washed and peeled and sliced the best part.   It's still in the oven baking as I type this blog.  I hope it would turn out the way I imagine - I want it to be - tangy crispy pear pie.

4 C Fresh home grown Japanese Pears peeled, cut into 1/2 inch strips or chunks
1/4 C - Squeeze 1 whole large lemon, including pulps and pour over cut pears to keep from browning
2 tsp cornstarch - mix into pear+lemon juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Pie crust:
4-1/2 oz butter, sliced
4-1/2 oz all purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp lemon zest - chopped finely
1-1/2 Tbsp to 2 Tbsp ice cold water

1 Tbsp dried cranberries - soak in hot water for 30 min, then, drained.
1 Tbsp maraschino cherries, strained, chopped
Egg wash - 1 beaten egg + 1 Tbsp water

Tools:  Rolling pin, silpat, pie tin, glass bowls, mixing bowl, large spoon, knife, measuring spoons & cups; teaspoon pastry brush.

Peel and cut Japanese pears into a glass bowl.  Cut lemon into halves.   Holding the lemon over the glass bowl with pears, use the teaspoon and wiggle it into the lemon and squeeze at the same time to extract juice.  Add cornstarch.  Toss and mix well.   (Do not add the brown sugar, yet).

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and zest.  Add butter and mix them together with hand.  The butter and flour flakes should be mixed until the size of  nickel or dime is achieved.  About 1-1/2 min.  Add 1 Tbsp of cold water and mix with hand to incorporate.  Does it form a ball, yet?  Add a bit more.  Tonight, my kitchen is about 80 degree, butter softened quickly, so I did not add more than 1-1/2 Tbsp.  Quickly form it into a ball and place in freezer for 2 min. to rest.

Bring it out, and roll it out to a rough looking 6 inch shapeless sort, then, fold the side to the center and the other side to the center, then fold over into halves, then, fold into halves again.
Roll out with rolling pin over a silpat mat, without using any flour.  Roll into 8" round.
Freeze the dough for 1 to 2 min.

Pre-heat oven to 425'F.
Transfer to a baking pie tin.  I am using a 6" aluminum cheese cake pan.  If you would like, you can place the dough flat on a Silpat mat.
Toss the pear mixture well, then add to the pie dough.
Top with dried cranberries and maraschino cherries to add colors to the pie.
Form the pie dough edge any way you want.  I just folded them over like Crostada - open pie.
Apply egg wash with pastry brush.
Bake till the crust is golden and fruits are bubbly - about 1 hr 15 min.
If the fruits looks bubbly, but the dough looks pale, cover the open area with a piece of aluminum foil.  
Remove from the oven.
Cool completely.
Serve with fresh whip cream or homemade ice-cream.

** So the pie is ready when the internal temperature reached 200 - 207'F.

I changed my recipe to read to use dried cranberries that have been soaked for 30 min, then, strained.  I forgot that in the open pie, when the dried cranberries or raisins are exposed to the heat, they tend to burn. The pie looks good.  It's cooling off right now. 

* By the way, it was Delicious - it was tangy like the way I wanted.  Crispiness... well, I maybe able to do that the next time if I didn't double pan to bake - put the pie tin on top of a baking sheet (double panned).  That took a bit long to bake to brown the pie dough, so the pears have the usual nice baked texture.  Not mushy, but softer than I wanted.  But perfect sweetness...; Pie crust was delicious as well.

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