Act 4 Scene 3 of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale- Enter Clown
“I cannot do’t without counters. Let me see; what am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound of sugar, five pound of currants, rice, - what will this sister of mine do with rice? But my father hath made her mistress of the feast, and she lays it on…
I must have saffron to color the warden pies; mace, dates? – none, that’s out of my note; nutmegs, seven, a race or two of ginger, but that I may beg; four pounds of prunes, and as many of raisins I’ the sun.”
My version of pear pie opts for cornmeal and rye in the pastry, cardamom in the filling, and golden raisins, straying from the Warden Pie depicted in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Warden pears were originally grown in Bedfordshire, gathered from the land surrounding Warden Abbey. Shakespeare had a penchant for pears, often peppering his scripts with bawdy and risqué pear references, not always suitable for prime time consumption.
I can relate to recipes instructing you to ‘bake your Wardens first in a pie’ (meaning pre-bake) to accommodate rock-hard, unripe fruit. Having only dabbled in Shakespeare in college, I do consider myself more of an authority on unripe pears. Without following the Clown’s recipe to the letter, cue my Pear Pie with Cornmeal/Rye Pastry. You won’t need Spark notes to understand it. The crust bows to rye and cornmeal flour and the filling is weighty with pears and has a good bite from candied ginger. I prefer it for breakfast with a drizzle of maple syrup, but vanilla ice cream makes a fine understudy.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm