Day 5: Pear-Cranberry Pie

Friday, November 20, 2009

This was a bomb.

Not "Da Bomb."

But a bomb. As in, bad. As in, not good.

Day 5: Pear-Cranberry Pie with Gingerbread Crust

This was probably my most "outlandish" endeavor, so to speak. A better word would probably be "non-traditional."

Here's how this will go: I will explain the crust and the filling, how I made them (which were individually tasty), but then what went wrong in the baking process.

This was no fault of the recipes themselves; the baker takes sole responsibility.

I'll just go ahead and give away the surprise, since it's killing all of you anyway.

The grand finale is an Apple Pie. So, when planning the 7 Chosen Pies, I knew I needed another fruit pie. And since the rules state that the pies have to be seasonal, I couldn't do blueberry or any summer fruit.

Pears and cranberries are so festive, and my intrigue became fixated on some combination of the two. Plus a gingerbread crust? Oh heavens.

When searching around, I found this recipe on Epicurious. The filling looked super-complicated and there were not-so-hot reviews on it, but good reviews on the crust. Then I found this recipe on Martha Stewart, with a "faux lattice" crust [interesting], but didn't care for the non-gingerbread crust or apricot glaze (weird?).

Here was the rub: my heart was already set on having a full double-crust for the apple pie. It's just so iconic! however, I wanted the experience [what pie week is all about] of making my own lattice.

NERD ALERT: I called into Whatever w/Alexis & Jennifer on Sirius [Martha Stewart channel], and asked Alexis if she thought a gingerbread lattice crust would work. She said yes, just to make sure to weave the lattice when the gingerbread was still pliable and not frozen or anything, because it could get really sticky.

If you remember the ceiling fiasco from Day 3, the plumbing issue is back on the radar. Ugh.

Back to Martha's I went. Here's my box of baking materials/accoutrements

I think Gibson was okay with it:

Gingerbread crust:

Make in the Cuisenart/food processor. Here's my little workspace, with my paper towel, measuring cups, spices. Flour and spices in the food processor:

Cut up butter, I stuck in the freezer for a few minutes before adding:

Molasses and egg yolks:

What it looks like all mixed up/processed:

I didn't chill it before rolling it out, per Alexis Stewart's advice:

Pressed into the pan:

With the remaining dough, I rolled it out, and cut into strips:

...then stuck 'em in the fridge to get their shape.

Meanwhile, here's the filling:

started with some beautiful pears, a mixture of Anjou and Red pears from Easy Way Produce.

and some lovely cranberries from Fresh Market [went to three other places before I found them there--also got the pie pumpkins there FYI]

Mix them in a large bowl, and add cornstarch, brown sugar, and other stuff...

Next was an exciting new experience. Scraping my very first vanilla bean!

Got a tube of three at Penzey's.

You get out the little pod, split it open down the middle, and scrape out the little vanilla flecks.

Magical. I tried to capture the vanilla flecks:

Filling + chilled crust [and mistake #1, not pre-baking the crust--I'll get into that at the end]

Filling in the crust:

Here came the fun part! Making the lattice. I'd read you start from the middle. Lay two pieces in a + and work from there:

I didn't get good step-by-step photos, sorry.

All done! Pretty, yes?

Mistake #2: Because of Bunko last night and limited time, I let the pie sit this way covered in foil in the fridge overnight. TERRIBLE mistake. The sad thing is, I knew it was a bad mistake when I did it, and couldn't stop myself.

Because of the hybrid recipe, when it came to baking time, I was unsure of following the filling baking time/temp or the crust baking time/temp.

All week, the pies have taken wayyyyyyyyyy longer to bake than the recipe said, so I thought, "Yes! I will just turn this one up to 400 and let it go."

Bad idea. Burned lattice 20 minutes later (sorry so blurry):

So I pack it up, trek to bunko, and when I get to Carrie's, take off the lattice and think that I'll just finish baking it at a lower temp and everything will be alright. This was not to be.

Disaster. The filling never really baked, and neither did the bottom crust.

"Piece" of the "pie"
--which was also deemed "hot fruit salad with gingerbread in it that tastes good" ...

Everyone was very gracious, and luckily, I brought the extra pumpkin pie from Day 3.

Meredith, Randi, and Carrie (blurry, sorry) with their pumpkin pie.

I think if I hadn't made the baking mistakes, this could have turned out to be a success.

Just bit off a little more than I could chew. Pun intended.


Pear-Cranberry Pie with Gingerbread Crust

Gingerbread Crust [from here, epicurious, doubled for lattice top]

3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons dark molasses
raw rice for weighting the crust [didn't do this...whoops!]

In a food processor blend together well the flour, the brown sugar, the ginger, the cinnamon, the allspice, and the salt, add the butter, and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl stir together the egg yolk and the molasses, add the mixture to the flour mixture, and pulse the motor, blending the mixture until it is combined well but still crumbly. Turn the mixture out into a 10-inch tart pan with a fluted removable rim and press it onto the bottom and up the side of the pan. Chill the crust for 30 minutes. Prick the crust with a fork, line it with foil, and fill the foil with the rice. Bake the crust in the lower third of a preheated 375°F. oven for 15 minutes, remove the foil and rice carefully, and bake the crust for 10 minutes more. [didn't do this either, whoops] Let the crust cool in the pan on a rack.

[adapted from here, Martha Stewart]

All-purpose flour, for dusting
5 ripe Bartlett pears (2 1/2 pounds; Bosc or Anjou can be substituted)
6 cups (24 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with racks in middle and lower positions. Peel, halve, and core pears. Cut pears into small pieces.
Toss together pears, cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape vanilla seeds over pear mixture, and toss until seeds have been evenly incorporated. Pour filling into piecrust, gently pressing to make it as level as possible. Dot filling with butter [forgot to do this part...probably would've helped]

Place foil-lined pan on the bottom rack to catch the juices.


1. pre-baked the bottom crust before putting in the filling
2. after putting the filling into the pie, baking it immediately after
3. dotting with butter
4. baking at 325 degrees for an hour (??? maybe ???)
5. not put egg wash on the gingerbread lattice.

Pretty. But a bomb.

Maybe it's because there was no vinyl accompaniment that I lost my way?

I'll press on, and finish strong. 2 more pies. And, hopefully, my fruit pie blunders are through with.
See you tomorrow.

xoxo Pie Sleuth


  1. That lattice crust was just lovely.

  2. I love reading all about your pie adventures!

    I never got around to telling you, but I LOVED the taste of the pear with the gingerbread crust. Even if it didn't cook or set up the way you wanted it to, I could taste the homemade goodness and the vanilla bean! Yum!

    And, the pumpkin pie was delicious! ;)

  3. it did look lovely! i've always wanted to scrape real vanilla beans too :) do you plan to ever try this one again, to see if it's yummy with the changes?

  4. once i recover from pie week, I think I shall try again. it had all the makings of being beautiful AND delicious. bummer.

  5. I definitely want a lesson in making lattice crust! Beautiful!

  6. So pretty. You've inspired me. I am baking a pie tonight (crazy Friday, I know)

    I MISS MY BUNKO GROUP! and the south


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