(inspired by an onslaught of Harry and David pears)
makes one 9” pie
Classic Pâte Brisée:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 oz. (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
⅓ - ½ cup ice cold water
Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Using a bench scraper, cut in the cold butter pieces until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle in ⅓ cup ice cold water using your fingertips to distribute the liquid. The dough should hold together; if it feels dry, add just enough of the remaining ice water until the dough holds together when pinched. Divide the dough in half, gently flatten into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap for at least one hour before rolling out. On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out one disc of dough to a circle about 12” in diameter. Gently fit the dough into a 9” pie plate. Fold the edges under and crimp decoratively. Return the bottom crust to the refrigerator. Roll out the second disc of dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. The top crust can be cut into lattice strips or cut into holiday shapes with cookie cutters. (NOTE: Cut-outs tend to keep their shape when they have been chilled before baking. I prefer to cut the shapes out ahead of time, set them on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for several hours, or overnight before using them to cover the fruit filling.) Return the top crust (lattice or cut outs) to the refrigerator.
Pear-Cognac spiked Cherry filling: (inspired by Kate Lebo)
Prepare the cherries first-
(You can use frozen cherries but you will need to thaw and drain them first, otherwise you will dilute the Cognac)
1½ cups fresh cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted or frozen cherries that have been thawed and well drained
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Cognac
¼ teaspoon cardamom
Place the cherries, brown sugar, Cognac and cardamom in a glass jar. Stir to combine, cover and let sit for at least 3 hours or better still, overnight.
5 cups of pears, from 3-4 peeled, cored Bartlett or Royal Riviera pears sliced ⅛” thick (pears should be flavorful but not overly ripe)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar (taste the pears, if very sweet, you may want to use a tablespoon or two less sugar)
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
⅛ teaspoon vanilla bean powder or ¼ of a vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped with the tip of a paring knife
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
egg wash made from one egg yolk beaten with two tablespoons of milk or heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the pears and the lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cardamom, vanilla bean powder or scrapings, salt and cornstarch. Add the cherries to the pears then add the sugar/spices/cornstarch. Turn to coat with a rubber spatula. Retrieve the bottom crust from the refrigerator and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a slotted spoon to pour the filling into the bottom crust reserving some of the liquid. (The combination of macerated cherries, ripe pears and sugar gives off an abundance of liquid. I like to reserve a few tablespoons of the liquid so the filling is a bit more sliceable.) Top with either a lattice crust or pastry cut outs. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Cover the edges of the pie with strips of aluminum foil. Place the pie on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and move the pie to the middle rack of the oven. Bake for an additional 45-50 minutes, removing the foil strips the last 15 minutes of baking. The fruit should bubble around the edges and in the center of the pie, the crust should be golden. Remove to a rack to cool completely before slicing. Refrigerate any leftovers.
makes one 9" pie
All Butter Pie Pastry- (this makes enough for a double crust pie; you only need one circle of dough for a bottom crust; wrap and freeze the other half for another time)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Cut in the cold butter using a bench scraper. Add the apple cider vinegar to the milk. Gradually add half of the vinegar/milk mixture to the dry ingredients and butter, tossing gently to combine. Add the remaining half of vinegar/milk mixture to the dry ingredients and butter. The dough should just hold together; if it feels dry, add an additional tablespoon or two of cold milk. Divide the dough in half, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.
On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll one disc of dough into a circle about 12” in diameter. Gently ease the dough into a 9” pie plate, roll the edges under and crimp decoratively. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Return the pie crust to the oven and bake an additional 8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
Bourbon Brown Butter filling- (adapted from the 1939 Carnation Cook Book and Holly Ricciardi)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups dark brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons bourbon
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1- 12 oz. can evaporated milk
zest of one small orange
(optional garnish: caramelized sugar made by heating 1/2 cup superfine sugar over low heat
until melted and golden; swirl the pan, do not stir the sugar. Remove from the heat, cool for a minute then use a fork to drizzle the sugar over a foil lined baking sheet. When cool, break into pieces.)
In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, brown the butter over low heat until it melts then begins to form lightly browned specks at the bottom of the pan. The butter should be slightly toasty in color and just start to smell nutty. It can turn from brown to burnt quickly so remove it from the heat and place over a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Let the brown butter cool and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cooled brown butter and brown sugar, beating on low until creamy. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg yolks, beating until light. With the mixer on low, add the flour and salt until combined. Add the bourbon and vanilla then the evaporated milk, mixing until well combined. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks. Fold the beaten egg whites into the brown sugar/yolk mixture being careful not to over mix.
Place the cooled pie shell on a parchment lined baking sheet. Carefully pour the filling into the pie shell (use a steady hand- the filling is quite runny) and place the pie on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake the pie for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and puffed around the edges. The center of the pie should be just the slightest bit jiggly. (Every oven is different; if the edges of the pie start to get dark but the center of the pie is very jiggly, cover the pie with a sheet of parchment paper and bake it an additional 8-10 minutes.) Remove the pie to a rack to cool completely then refrigerate at least overnight, preferably longer so the filling sets up nicely and is easier to cut. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
(with inspiration from Marcy Goldman and Blue Bottle Coffee)
makes two dozen
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark molasses
1 cup all-purpose flour OR 1 cup white whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons cocoa
1¾ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
⅛ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 oz. (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter cut into pieces
4 oz. cream cheese, cold and cut into pieces
Filling- (this will fill two 10” circles of dough)
½ cup apricot preserves
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon cocoa
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Measure out the apricot preserves in one small bowl, the chopped walnuts in another. Combine the sugars, cocoa and spices in another bowl. Place the ginger in a separate bowl. (Ramekins are great for lining up the ingredients.)
additional apricot preserves for glazing the baked rugelach
additional chopped crystallized ginger and walnuts for garnish
Prepare the dough-
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the brown sugar, molasses, flour, salt, cocoa, spices, and fresh ginger. Add the cold butter and cream cheese. Pulse to combine thoroughly. Use a rubber scraper to carefully turn out the dough (watch out for the blade!) on to a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out. When ready to roll out the dough, divide the disc in half and shape each half into a circle. Rewrap one disc in plastic and refrigerate. On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough into 10” circle. Transfer the parchment paper with the dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate while you roll out the second disc of dough the same way. Gather together the filling ingredients. Retrieve one circle of dough from the fridge. Use an offset spatula to spread about ¼ cup of apricot filling over the dough, leaving about a 1” border from the edge. (This will help prevent the filling from seeping out.) Sprinkle with half of the walnuts, half of the sugar/spice mixture and 1 tablespoon of the finely chopped crystallized ginger. Use a bench scraper or a pastry cutter to divide the dough into twelve even triangles. Return the dough to the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Repeat the process with the second circle of dough. (You will be able to fit twenty four rugelach on a standard size half sheet baking sheet which measures 12” x 17”.)
Retrieve the dough from the fridge again and dip a clean offset spatula in flour. (The dough gets sticky when it is soft.) Use the offset to help roll up each triangle of dough so it forms a crescent, placing the rugelach on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I double pan these when I bake them meaning, I place the parchment lined baking sheet with the rugelach on top of a second baking sheet of the same size. This helps prevent the bottoms from getting too dark.
Place the double panned baking sheets on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake the rugelach for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Depending on your oven, they may need an additional minute or two. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and place on a cooling rack. If you wish, you can glaze the tops of the cookies with a little melted apricot jam and sprinkle with additional walnut pieces and minced crystallized ginger.