I kept picking up pears from the market, because they looked delicious. I felt a little guilty about it, because they’re not local pears.  It’s tough even for me–a person committed to supporting local, sustainable farms–to resist the allure of such handsome produce.

But I had them ripening away in my fruit bowl, and with the week coming to a close, I knew I needed to get busy. Pear pie.  And for a little zing, I added slightly sweetened Montmorency tart cherries. Then, because every fruit pie needs a topping, I made a buttery brown sugar streusel.

I went with the all-butter quick crust that I used last week, again adding 1/4 tsp of baking powder,  but this time I let it rest longer.  That helped, but it was still a bit of a bear to roll out and cracked like crazy around the edges. This does tend to happen more with all-butter crusts, but I’m in search of a solution.  Since then I’ve read a few more crust tips that I’m going to try for this week’s pie.

The fruit filling was simply cut pears macerated with a bit of sugar and spices, and I used flour for the thickening agent. Next time, I’ll go with cornstarch. I may be full of you-know-what, but I think it gives the filling a more clean and pure flavor and texture.

Fruit fillings often make for soggy crusts, but not since I’ve been using another trick I learned from the great Rose Levy Berenbaum.  She kindly, but precisely instructs us to mix our fruit and sugar, let it macerate for 30 minutes or so, then drain the extra juices into a small saucepan (you’ll have 1/3 to 1/2 cup of juice).  Put that little saucepan of watery, sugary goodness onto the heat and cook it into a thick syrup. Finally let it cool a bit, and mix the syrup back into the bowl of fruit.  Then, you may dump your fruit into your partially baked pie shell, top it with your crust, lattice or streusel, and bake away.

Genius, hey?  Instead of all that water leaking into the crust you labored and fussed over, it’s evaporated–poof!–before it even goes into the pie.  Then you’re left with a concentrated fruity concoction that heightens the flavor of the filling.

So I did that with my pears, and it was a beautiful thing. (See how the juices aren’t oozing out all over the plate? That’s the syrup trick!)

When I took my first bite of this pie, I honestly wasn’t sure I liked it (I think it was the texture of the flour, people. I’m going with cornstarch next time).  But I took another bite… and then another… and another… and then I was licking the plate.  I was literally licking the plate.  I mean, I didn’t really know what I was doing, and then I was like, oh my god, I’m licking this plate. That’s ridiculous! I never lick my plate! (dragging my finger through what’s left on the plate, and licking my finger… well, that’s another story.) Though it is a pretty plate, don’t you think?

Anyway, after I got over my astonishment at what I had done,  I promptly packed up one more piece for myself to eat when I was feeling a bit more disciplined (like the following morning at breakfast time), and sent the rest off with my husband to drop off at his father’s hair salon. The ladies at the salon did me and my back end a big favor by polishing it off.  Thanks, gals.

On deck for next week:  A post-race sour cherry pie.

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