The apples on my kitchen counter are looking at me in utter confusion. They don’t understand how I could make a beautiful pie crust, make a sweet, pecan-studded crumble, bring out the bourbon, and reach for the pears instead of them.
They can’t understand how I’d have a pie party without them. Especially this time of year.
I think I heard them whispering and conspiring with the canned pumpkin to stage some sort of baking coup, but I’ll keep my eye on them. Frankly, they’re pretty cocky and presumptive. I can make a delicious Fall pie without them.
The apples are going to be so mad when I eat them with plain old peanut butter, but really… can we show pears some love? It’s time.
Chill out apples.
For this lovely Pear Bourbon Crumble pie I used Red Anjou pears because they were beautiful (and totally on sale). I wanted them ripe, but not mushy-gushy, and getting to that point take great attention to the fruit bowl. One day pears are perfectly ripe but firm, the next day they’re bruised and molding. Keep an eye on em.
(The apples are like… SEEEE, we told you so! And I’m like… hush up, apples.)
This pie recipe is just slightly adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. One of my very favorites.
Pears are peeled and sliced. Some pears may be more firm than others. That’s absolutely fine. It will make for good texture in our pie slices.
Lemon is essential.
Lemon and sugar are tossed with the pears to help the fruit release some of their sweet juices. It’s a sit and wait situation. But while we wait… why not crumble?
The crumble topping is a combination of oats, brown sugar, flour, pecans, and cold butter. It’s hearty and sweet, and browns beautiful on top of the bubbling fruit.
We’ve talked about homemade pie crust six ways to Sunday, haven’t we?
Here’s Five Tips For The Best All-Butter Pie Crust from scratch… because it hurts me when you buy pre-made pie crust.
Into our juicy pears we add brown sugar flour, spices like ginger (perfection!), and all spice, and bourbon (heaven!) and bitters… cocktail bitters for depth and introspection.
The juicy fruit is tossed, and before I pile the mixture into the pie crust, I like to toss a handful of the oat crumble into the pie filling. This will help for thickening and overall flavor integration. Super serious, right?
Feeling pretty accomplished, I must say.
Piled high with crumble and ready for a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven. The juices might bubble over and it’s best to be prepared.
This pie is fragrant and really… it’s pie so it’s perfect. The ginger and bourbon really shine through. The pears are soft, malleable, and pleasant. Like the most tender apple pie if you’re looking for a comparison.
I like the crunch from pecans though you could leave the pecans out for nut sensitivities. One another note, walnuts would also be a stellar idea.
For optimal enjoyment, let the pie cool to room temperature before enjoying. This might seem counter-intuitive, but the juices need time to settle before the pie is sliced.
(You could make a drinking game of how many times I used the words ‘juice’ and ‘juices’ in this post. Apologies / cheers.)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- 1/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoon cold buttermilk
- 6-7 ripe but firm pears, any variety, peeled and sliced, about 5 cups sliced
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch of fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 2 dashes bitters
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- large pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. Add a bit more buttermilk if necessary, but you want to mixture to be shaggy and not outwardly wet.
- On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Gently knead into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.
- To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.
- To make the filling, in a medium bowl toss together sliced pears, lemon juice, and granulated sugar. Allow to macerate for 20 minutes. Add brown sugar, flour, spices, pepper, salt, bourbon, bitters, and vanilla. Toss to evenly coat the pears in the mixture but try to be gently enough as to not bruise the pears too much.
- To make the crumble, in a medium bowl (yea… we’re using a lot of medium bowls), whisk together flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter chunks and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the mixture until well incorporated. Some butter bits will be the size of peas, and smaller. Add the pecans and toss to combine.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Toss a handful (about 1/2 cup) of the topping mixture into the pear mixture, toss. Dump the fruit mixture into the pie crust. Top generously with topping mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. It’s important to use the middle rack because if the pie is too close to the top of the oven, the pecans will burn quickly.
- Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 3 hours before serving. This will allow the juices to thicken and rest.
- Serve in generous slices with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.