When Marc Weir announced his second annual #mwdeliciouspiemovement competition it seemed only right to use a Lois Daish recipe for my pie entry. Marc worked for Lois at the Brooklyn Cafe & Grill for many years and describes her as one of his strong food influences.
For this golden pear pie I used Lois’ recipe for a pear galette, but baked it in a traditional pie tin; if you prefer you could make the pie as a free-form galette. This is an exceptionally good pie: the pastry is very flaky and the cream cheese adds a delicious tang. Pre-baking the pears with butter and sugar makes them taste even more pear-like and allows you to drain off any excess juice before putting them into the pie crust to prevent the base going soggy.
Golden pear pie (Lois Daish, Listener, 10 April 2004)
Flaky cream cheese pastry:
250g standard flour
pinch baking powder
110g standard cream cheese
150g butter, fridge cold and cut into small cubes (if using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt)
2 1/2 tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
Put the flour and baking powder into a food processor bowl and add the cream cheese. Pulse to form a fine, mealy texture. Add the cubed butter and pulse just long enough for the butter to coated in flour and beginning to be chopped up. Stop the processor when the lumps of butter are the size of peas. Add the cold water and lemon juice and pulse briefly. The mixture will be crumbly and will not be holding together in a ball. Tip the mixture into a bowl and use your hands to press into a ball (use your fingers to flick over a little more water if it is too crumbly to come together). Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before using. The pastry can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.
4-5 pears (or apples)
juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 200°C. Peel, quarter and core the pears and cut into thin slices. Place into a large shallow baking dish with the lemon juice, sugar and butter and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the pears a couple of times while they bake to coat them in the juices which will exude from the pears. Remove from the oven and leave them to cool before using them to fill the galette (if there’s lots of excess juice then drain it off). The pears may be baked the day before you need them.
Putting together the pie:
Preheat oven to 180°C Remove pastry from the fridge and cut into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Sprinkle flour over a large clean bench and use a rolling pin to roll out the larger piece of pastry to fit a loose-bottomed metal pie tin. Transfer the pastry to the pie tin and gently push down to fit.
Roll the second piece of pastry into a round that is slightly larger than the circumference of the pie dish. Spread the pears over the pastry base and lower the pastry top on top. You want both layers of pastry to overlap the edge of the tin by about 2cm; cut off any excess and use this to make decorations for the top of the pie. Gently fold the bottom layer of pastry over the top layer and use the back of your index finger to push and crimp against the side of the tin. Brush with some milk or beaten egg and bake until golden brown (about 30 minutes).