It’s that time of year when pie is everywhere. This year, I’m making a Pear and Cranberry Pie for Thanksgiving—the one you see here. The one with the most buttery and flakiest crust ever.
I’m all about the crust. The filling is good, but the crust is great—it’s what makes or breaks a pie for me. That said, I have a few no-fail rules to share.
- First, always use top-quality butter. I use Organic Valley for its prize-winning flavor. It’s creamy, and well—buttery. It’s everything butter needs to be to produce a flaky crust. It’s also organic, so you know—no Frankenstein-like GMOs, no synthetic growth or breeding hormones, no antibiotics, no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers—just happy cows producing top quality butter.
- Along with the butter, I use some vegetable shortening to increase that flaky ratio. If you can find lard, use it. It takes the pie crust to a new level. But I know many people don’t like it or it’s just not easily sourced.
- Finally, here are my last two favorite tricks (1) I like to finish my crust with a heavy sprinkling of coarse sugar, twice. Once when I’m done rolling it out I’ll sprinkle some on top and then give it a quick roll over with the rolling pin to pack it into the dough, then one more sprinkling on top before it goes into the oven. It gives the dough such a great texture. (2) For an extra boost in flavor I’ll roll crushed toasted nuts into the crust. For this pie here, I used pecans.
So I went crazy with this post and did a whole lot of step-by-step pictures to encourage you to make your own pie this season. And yes the final pie crust differs from what you see in the step-by-step set because I’m working on my pie skills. Practice. Practice. Practice. But you get the idea. To add to that, check out the awesome stop motion video David Schwen created for this recipe. Seriously, how crazy cool is that? For more of his work check out his site here.
You’ll notice, in the step-by-step pictures, I use parchment to roll my dough out on. Yes, it’s a bit unorthodox, but it saves me from using more flour to keep the dough from getting tough and extra helpful if you don’t have a chilled marble board to keep the dough from sticking to a warm counter top.
Now get busy and let’s make some pie!
- Pie Crust
- 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 4 tablespoon cup finely ground toasted pecans
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, frozen, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch piece
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, cold
- 4-6 tablespoons cup ice water
- 4 tablespoons coarse sugar, divided use
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted pecans
- Pear and Cranberry Filling
- 2 cups Anjou pears, ripe but firm; peeled, cored and sliced (1lb. 4oz.)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (3 ¼ oz)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
To make pie crust:
Manual method: Add flour, pecans, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add shortening and butter into flour mixture and and using a pastry cutter, cut and blend to combine until mixture resembles cottage cheese size curds. Transfer mixture to bowl. In a separate bowl, mix and combine 4 tablespoons ice water and apple cider vinegar; sprinkle over flour mixture. Stir with fork until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather and form dough into 2 balls; flatten each into disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour. (Pie crust can be prepared ahead and refrigerated up to 2 days.)
Food processor method: Add flour, pecans, sugar and salt in food processor and pulse until combined, about 3 two-second bursts. Add shortening and butter and pulse in two second bursts until mixture resembles cottage cheese curds. Transfer mixture to bowl. In a separate bowl, mix and combine 4 tablespoons ice water and apple cider vinegar; sprinkle over flour mixture. Stir with fork until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather and form dough into 2 balls; flatten each into disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour. (Pie crust can be prepared ahead and refrigerated up to 2 days.)
To make filling:
- Stir pears, cranberries, sugars, lemon juice and cinnamon in large bowl to blend. Let stand until juices form, about 15 minutes.. Discard all but 2 tablespoon of juice. Mix in flour. Dot top with diced butter.
Preparation: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly cover 9 inch pie pan with non-stick spray.
- Remove 1 dough disk from refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured parchment sheet to 12-inch round. Place dough in prepared pie dish. Spoon in filling; dot with butter. Roll out second dough disk to 13-inch round. Sprinkle coarse sugar and pecan on top and using the rolling pin give it a quick roll over the dough to press in the add-ons. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and unroll unto pie, leaving 1 inch overhang all the way around. Seal top and bottom crust edges together; trim to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under; crimp edge or finish edge as desired. Lightly brush on the milk and sprinkle the remaining coarse sugar on top.
- Transfer pie to baking sheet; place in oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, then reduce oven to 375 degrees and bake with a tented top(if crust is starting to brown too much) for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before cutting into.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post with Organic Valley Butter. All thought and opinions are my own.