Turkey day is just around the corner - but as far as I’m considered, it’s the most exciting day of pie season! I’m probably well behind in pumping out the Thanksgiving content, but there’s a pie coming at you almost every day this week (and one day next week I think), just in case you need some last minute ideas or a wee switcharoo. I won’t tell anyone.
I wanted to have a bunch of ‘alternative’ recipes for Thanksgiving - there’s already an apple pie here on the site (it’s really good), and a bunch of other more traditional pies too, so I wanted to post a couple of fun riffs on classics, starting with this Pear Pie with a Ginger Caramel and a Spelt Crust!
This is basically just a riff on a pear and caramel pie, except that I infused the cream used in the caramel with some freshly grated ginger, which gives it the most beautiful flavour. Fresh ginger is more subtle than its ground up friend, and I love how the flavour comes through in the pie.
I recently got a grain mill from my friend Jase, who won it in an IG contest and very, very kindly gifted it to me, as he knew I was DYING for one! I’ve been using it a bunch, and finally got around to adding a little freshly milled grain into my pie crust, and there’s no looking back. Your flour doesn’t have to be freshly milled, but adding a little spelt flour into the dough (30% of the flour weight I replaced with spelt) adds the most amazing depth of flavour, and the dough still behaves like a dream. I just made a pie with a rye crust this morning, and I think i’m hooked.
Here’s to a week ish worth of pies - I hope you give this pear and caramel dude a try! It’s so good with a giant scoop of ice cream. x
A few wee tips:
Adding freshly milled grains into my pie dough is new to me, and is an instant favourite method. It adds another depth of flavor to the crust, which is so, so delicious. I went with 30% per my friend Ruth’s recommendation. You may need to adjust the hydration a little in the dough - just have a play and see how you go.
Give your pie dough an overnight rest if you can.
If you want to leave out the ginger and just make this a pear and caramel pie, go ahead, it will be so good!
Here is a recipe for ‘regular’ pie dough if you don’t want to add in the spelt. You should be able to get spelt flour from your local supermarket or farmer’s market, or online. I have a grain mill so I milled mine fresh!
You want pears that are just ripe for this recipe. Too soft and they will end up mushy.
I like using a wee tip that my friend Erin taught me to make the pie dough nice and smooth and easy to work with. I make the dough, shape it into two rectangles, rest it in the fridge wrapped for about an hour, then remove it and roll it out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. I then give it a letter fold (as you would a letter), roll out to a rectangle, letter fold again, then roll out slightly, and shape into a disc. I then re-wrap it, and leave it to rest overnight. This makes the dough more homogenous without compromising the flaky texture that you want in the pie dough, and it makes it a total dream to work with. For me, it’s a game changer.
I like to divide the pie dough into ⅓ and ⅔ - shape the smaller one into a disc as it will be your bottom crust, and shape the top into a rectangle so it’s the right shape when it comes to cutting out lattices.
Give your caramel time to cool - I made mine the night before.
I did a fancy lattice on the top which definitely isn’t necessary, but it looks super pretty. I used pie stamps to cut out the shapes for the edge of the pie - I have collected a whole bunch over the years - I have this set and this set of leaves, and then this set is where the flowers are from. I think I also have this set!
Pear Pie with Ginger Caramel and Spelt Crust
- Makes one 9” pie -
Spelt Pie Dough
380g All-purpose Flour
160g Spelt Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp (13g) sugar
345g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
60g (¼ cup) Apple cider vinegar
180g heavy cream
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
135g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp salt
1300g fresh pears (I used bosc), peeled and sliced
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
35g all-purpose flour
80g raw or turbinado sugar
pinch of salt
- PROCESS -
SPELT PIE DOUGH
Place flour, salt, and sugar into a large bowl. Mix to combine. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.
Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about ½ to ¾ cup, but add slowly) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Divide the dough into two - I like to do a ⅓ to ⅔ split. Shape the smaller portion into a disc and the larger into a rectangle. If desired, roll out and perform letter folds after an hour of resting (see notes - I do this every time now and it makes such a difference). Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fresh ginger. Heat over low until warmed. Place the sugar in a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly. The sugar will start to form clumps, then begin to melt. Cook until is it amber in colour, then remove from the heat and immediately add all of the butter. Be careful as the caramel will bubble rapidly. Once the butter is incorporated, add the cream and stir well. Stir in the salt, and pour into a glass jar. Allow to cool completely. Refrigerate if making ahead of time, but bring back to room temperature before using.
FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
On a lightly floured surface, roll the disc into a circle slightly larger than your pie dish. You want it to be approximately ⅛ inch (3mm) in thickness. Line a 9" pie dish, leaving the extra dough overhanging. Trim the dough so there is about 1 inch overlapping the edge of your dish. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling and lattice.
Roll out the second piece of dough (the rectangle) into a rough rectangle approximately ⅛ inch thick. Use a pastry cutter to cut strips for your lattice. If you would like to make a braid, roll a piece of pie dough into a long thin rectangle, cut thin strips, and braid. Place your strips and braids onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and store in the fridge until ready to use. Press together the scraps and re-roll, these are good for extra lattice strips or for using pie stamps to cut out for the border - freeze for 10 minutes or so before stamping out to help the stamps hold their shape.
Place the sliced pears in a large bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl, then add to the pears and toss well to combine. Transfer the filling to the lined pie dish a little at a time, packing the slices of pear in. Remember that it will bake down a little, so it is ok for the pie to seem a bit full.
Pour over 200g of the ginger caramel - I put the pie directly onto the scale, and pour the caramel on there. Place it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes for it to settle in before adding the lattice.
Arrange the strips of pie dough on the top of the pie, weaving into your desired lattice. If you are adding stamps, trim any overlapping pie dough and lattice strips so that they are flush with the edge of the pie dish, then glue on the stamps with a little egg wash. If you are crimping, trim the crust with a little overhang and then crimp as desired.
Rest the pie in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. While the pie is resting in the fridge, preheat the oven to 425°f/ 220°c. Place a baking tray on the bottom rack of the oven.
Brush the pie with egg wash, and sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Bake at 425˚f / 220˚c for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to go golden. Reduce the temperature 375°f / 190°c, and bake until the pastry is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling, 40 to 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, ideally with a scoop of ice cream.
Store leftovers wrapped in foil at room temperature and re-warm slightly when serving.