makes one deep dish 9½” inch pie or one 8” springform pie
Buttermilk Pie Crust with Pink Peppercorns
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon finely ground pink peppercorns
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼” cubes
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk (I use Five Acre Farms)
egg wash made from one egg beaten with one tablespoon milk or heavy cream
extra sugar for sprinkling
Lightly butter your deep-dish pie plate or your springform pan, dust with flour and knock out the excess .
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the flour, sugar, salt, and ground peppercorns. Pulse two or three times to combine. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse just until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas. Empty the mixture into a large bowl. Gradually add the buttermilk, tossing the mixture with a fork or your fingertips, just until the dough holds together. Divide the dough roughly in half, making one slightly larger for the bottom crust. Shape each half into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling out.
Remove the larger disc of dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll the dough into a circle about 12” in diameter and about ⅛” thick. Gently transfer the dough to the pie plate or the springform pan, making sure to smooth the dough inside the bottom edges of the pan and easing the dough into the pan and up the sides without stretching it. Leave an overhang of about ¾” and fold it under, decoratively crimping the edge. Refrigerate the pie shell while you roll out the top crust. Retrieve the second (slightly smaller) disc of dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, into a circle about 11” in diameter and about ⅛” thick. Slide the parchment with the top crust onto a baking sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while you par-bake the bottom crust.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place a sheet of buttered aluminum foil or parchment paper inside the dough lined pan, extending over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with dried beans or rice, place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake on the bottom rack of the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Put on your favorite oven mitts and remove the pan from the oven, then carefully remove the foil or parchment and beans. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork and return the pie shell to the oven for an additional 7-10 minutes, just until the bottom crust is golden and no longer doughy. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you prepare the filling. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
For the filling-
10-12 ripe but firm Anjou or Bosc pears (4 pounds) I use a combination of the two; after peeled, cored and sliced, you should have about 8 cups of fruit
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice or Amaretto
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
generous pinch of freshly ground pink peppercorns
3 tablespoons Minute tapioca* (pulsed until fine in the food processor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from one half of a vanilla bean
⅔ cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Rinse, peel, halve, and core the pears; cut into ¼” thick slices and place the pears in a large bowl. Toss the pear slices with the lemon juice and orange juice (or Amaretto.). In a medium bowl combine the sugars, orange zest, cardamom, salt, ground peppercorns, tapioca, and vanilla extract (or vanilla bean); add to the pears. Use a rubber scraper to gently combine the fruit with the sugar/spice mixture. (Hold off on the walnuts; you will layer those between the pears.) Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes so the tapioca has a chance to absorb the pear juices. Retrieve your top crust from the refrigerator and make sure the oven is preheated to 400 degrees F.
Place a portion of the pears into the pie shell, sprinkle on some of the walnuts and continue layering with the remainder of the pears and walnuts. Retrieve the top crust from the fridge. Brush the edge of the pie crust with egg wash and drape the top crust over the filling. Trim the excess, leaving a ¾” border. Carefully seal the edges of the top crust to the bottom crust and crimp the edge decoratively. (Because the bottom crust has been par-baked, it will be fragile.) Brush the top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Use a fork or a small paring knife to poke/cut a few holes in the top crust, allowing steam to escape as the pie bakes.
Place the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil strips. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes then reduce temperature to 375 degrees F and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden and juices bubble around the edges and in the center of the pie. Place the pie on a rack to cool completely, several hours or preferably overnight. (It will be much easier to slice if the pie has a chance to rest overnight.) Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.