To my way of thinking, Harry and David, purveyors of gourmet foods, have almost single-handedly rendered pears one of the most sought after gifts of the holiday season. And it has something to do, not only with the glorious fruits themselves, but with the way they single out one pear in each box to carefully wrapped in golden tissue.
So, while I appreciate the purity of a raw pear, I still like mine baked up in a pie well beyond the holidays. Yet, patience is not one of my virtues, and fruit pies can take an hour or more to bake. So, in my version, the crust is pre-baked and the pears precooked stovetop so that the assembled pie bakes in the blink of an eye: a mere 15 minutes.
Plus, my coconut oil-based pie crust is so flaky and delicious you almost don’t need the filling. But only almost. The pear filling is set off perfectly with a fresh ginger streusel and pairs beautifully with my Cinnamon Stick-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (recipe below). As an added bonus, the pie bakes in the blink of an eye because the pears are pre-cooked for a few minutes stovetop.
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated coconut oil (semi-solid at room temperature)
- 14 tablespoons of iced water (place a few cubes of ice in a small bowl and fill with water)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 large ripe pears, sliced
- 2 tablespoons natural sugar
- 4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 6 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Pie Crust Preparation:
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Combine the flour and coconut oil in a food processor and pulse a few times until the coconut oil is evenly distributed and the dough looks like coarse sand.
- Add water, 2 tablespoons at a time, pulsing a few times after each, until the dough comes together. It should be slightly moist, but not sticky. You may not need the full amount of water.
- Gather the dough together in a ball. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough out.
- Gently lift and transfer it into your pie pan, trimming around the rim with a sharp knife and crimping the edges.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly golden. Remove from the oven and press down any area on the crust that might have risen.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the pears and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until slightly softened.
- Reduce the heat if necessary to keep the pears from sticking or cooking too quickly.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the pears cool 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in the sugar and flour until well distributed.
- In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together both flours, the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
- Drizzle in the oil and incorporate well.
- Stir in the pecans.
- Spread the filling evenly into the crust and crumble the streusel evenly over the top.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pears are easily pierced with a sharp knife.
- If the pie begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil, shiny side up.
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least an hour before serving.
…and here’s a bonus! The Cinnamon Stick-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, which goes along perfectly with this Ginger Streusel Pear Pie (it’s also pretty addicting on its own!).
Make the ice cream the day before you plan to serve it. If you have cornstarch on hand and prefer not to purchase arrowroot powder just for this ice cream, you can use it successfully. However, the arrowroot powder is believed to reduce the formation of unpleasant ice crystals.
Ingredients (Yield: 4-6 servings):
- 1/2 cup soy milk, divided
- 1 cup plain soy creamer
- 3/4 cup natural sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 1 large vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise, and seeds scraped out
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or more to taste)
- 1 1/2 cups vegan sour cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, optional
- Combine 1/4 cup soy milk, soy creamer, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla seeds in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil.
- In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup soy milk with the arrowroot powder until smooth. When the soy creamer mixture just reaches a boil, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the soy milk-arrowroot mixture until smooth and thickened. Stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the custard to cool to room temperature. Whisk it again if lumps remain. Cover the custard and refrigerate it at least three hours or overnight.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks, whisk one more time, and then whisk in the sour cream and optional lemon juice. Freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s manufacturer’s directions. Scrape the ice cream into an airtight container and store in the freezer. Allow the ice cream to further set up before serving if desired.
From The Blooming Platter Cookbook by Betsy DiJulio. Copyright © 2011. Vegan Heritage Press. Used by permission.