Recipe: Three Pear and Gouda Pie by Kate Lebo
For one reason: it's pear season. For another: it's arguably more acutely pie season right than at any other time of year.
This is sort of a questionable assertion to make, of course, because Team Pie would argue: when isn't it pie season? From rhubarb to berry to peach to apple to pumpkin, there's a pie for each season.
That is true, but fall is a time when even those of us who might be normally on Team Cake often find ourselves feeling drawn into the nostalgia orbit of the heavy pie gravity of Thanksgiving.
Another reason this recipe is great to share right now is because Pie School - the book the recipe came from - just came out. It's by local author Kate Lebo, and offers (in addition to recipes like this one) helpful pie fundamentals, including a photo step-by-step illustrating the basic crust-making technique.
And with the holidays coming up, we at Slow Food think it's a great time to consider local authors for holiday gift-giving. So this might be one to think about for the pie-lover (or Team Cake member in need of conversion) in your life.
Enjoy this sweet and savory pie for a fall potluck or holiday table.
Three Pear & Gouda Pie
Makes 1 pie
From Pie School by Kate Lebo
Choose at least three varieties of almost-ripe pears to create an ultra-peary, velvet-textured filling. Aged Gouda or smoked Gouda are more assertive than softer, younger Goudas, though all types of this creamy cheese make delicious cheesy pastry. This pie is all about the pear/Gouda combination, a warm contrast of flavors that lets this pie straddle the fence between savory and sweet.
1 cheese crust, with hard aged Gouda or smoked Gouda (recipe below)
2 ripe Bartlett pears
2 ripe d’Anjou pears
2 ripe Bosc pears
¼ cup white sugar
juice of ½ medium lemon (1 1/2 tablespoons)
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
egg white wash (egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water)
Make the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour, or overnight. Roll out the bottom crust and place it in a 9- to 10-inch pie plate. Tuck the crust into the plate and trim the edges, Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the next steps of the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Core and slice the pears very thin— 1/8 inch if possible. In a medium bowl, mix the pears with sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg, and salt. Taste and adjust the flavors as needed. Gently stir in the flour and set the filling aside.
Roll out the top crust and retrieve the bottom crust from the refrigerator.
Pile the pears into the bottom crust and gently pack them down to eliminate air holes. Smooth the pears into a mound with your hands and dot them with the butter. Drape the top crust over the filling. Trim, fold, and flute the edges if you like. Cut generous steam vents, brush the crust with the egg white wash, and sprinkle it with the salt.
Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is blond and blistered. Rotate the pie front to back and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. Bake 35 to 45 minutes more, until the crust is deeply golden and the juices bubble slowly at the pie's edge.
Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers on the kitchen counter loosely wrapped in a towel for up to 3 days.
(Makes 1 double crust)
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
1 cup grated hard aged Gouda or smoked Gouda
Fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 1 1/2 cups of water, plop in some ice cubes and place it in the freezer while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. The idea is to have more water than you need for the recipe (which will probably use 1/2 cup or less) at a very cold temperature, not to actually freeze the water or use all 1 1/2 cups in the dough.
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut 1/2- to 1-tablespoon pieces of butter and drop them into the flour. Toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
Position your hands palms up, fingers loosely curled. Scoop up flour and fat and rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. Do this, reaching into the bottom and around the sides to incorporate all flour into fat until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. It should be chunky—mostly pea sized with some almond- and cherry-size pieces. The smaller bits should resemble coarse cornmeal. Toss the cheese with the dough until it is evenly distributed.
Take the water out of the freezer. Pour it in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. Toss to distribute the moisture. You’ll probably need to pour a little more water on and toss again. As you toss and the dough gets close to perfection, it will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. Press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. If it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. If the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done. (When all is said and done, you’ll have added about 1/3 to 1/2 cup water.)
With firm, brief pressure, gather the dough in 2 roughly equal balls (if one is larger, use that for the bottom crust). Quickly form the dough into thick discs using your palms and thumbs. Wrap the disks individually in plastic. Refrigerate for an hour to three days before rolling.