Ginger Pear Pie

This is my husband S’s ginger pear pie recipe, which I am posting because it is awesome, and also because it is too long to post on Twitter. I need to hunt down a photo, but in the meantime, here is the recipe in his words.

Makes a pie in the 8-10 inch range. The pie should be sort of normal depth — 1.5-1.75 inches.

It’s important to have the pear juice bubble up into the bottom of the streusel, and I think having the depth too far out of that range would make that harder.

Select enough ripe cooking pears to fill whatever pan you use. I like both Anjou and Bosc, and I’ve heard that Nelis are good, but use whatever you like and can get. Comice works pretty well, too, though it’s not traditionally a cooking pear. Bartletts are ok in a pinch, but they go mushy quickly, so you have to keep a closer eye on the pie.

For Anjou and Bosc, the pears should be as ripe and juicy as you can get. If you’re using a traditional eating pear like Comice or Bartlett, they should be firmish but still juicy.

Make a bottom crust and put it in the pan.

Peel the pears and slice fairly thinly – between 0.125 and 0.25 inches. Lay the pear slices in the pan so that there aren’t gaps — I sort of arrange them in concentric circles with the top-of-the-pear end of the slice pointing toward the middle. Keep layering the pear slices in until you get to the bottom of the fluting on the crust.

Grate a chunk of fresh ginger about the size of the last joint on your thumb onto the top of the pears. I like to freeze the ginger and microplane it while it’s still frozen, but that’s mainly to reduce stringiness and avoid skinned knuckles — I don’t think it affects the flavor.

Make a streusel with 2/3 c flour, 3T butter, 2T sugar, and spices to taste. I use roughly 2t dried ginger, 1t coriander seed, 0.5t cardamom, 0.5t nutmeg, and 1t allspice, but I don’t actually measure them. Cut all the ingredients together with a pastry blender, and cover the be-gingered pears with them. It’ll make a layer 0.25 – 0.5 inches thick.

Put in the oven and cook at 375°F for half an hour, and then lower the temperature to 325 and cook until the pears are tender and the juice is bubbling up into the streusel. When the pie cools off, the juice will pull the gingeriness down into the body of the pie.

If the pears weren’t juicy enough, you may not get the juice bubbling up. In this case, stop when the pears are tender.

If you used Bartletts or Comice, start checking the pears earlier, as they will go mushy sooner, and will probably have enough juice to be bubbling up sooner as well.

Further note, told to Naomi tonight: if the pears are too juicy, dust a little flour in between the layers.

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