Yesterday was Mimi Jr.'s birthday. For her birthday dessert she picked pear pepper pie. Now, pears and pepper may seem an odd combination, but let me tell you, it is sublime. The subtle spice from the pepper heightens the sweetness of the pears, and the pears in turn temper the pepper's heat. As a result, you get spicy-sweet, perfectly cooked pears in every bite. I have been baking this pie for over twenty years and everyone asks for the recipe, but no one has ever correctly guessed the mystery ingredient.
From the Best of Sunset
Pastry crust for double pie (recipe follows)
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca
¼ teaspoon white pepper
about 8 firm ripe pears such as Bosc, d’Anjou or Comice
1 egg lightly beaten
¼ cup whipping cream
In a bowl mix sugar, tapioca and pepper. In to another large bowl, peel, core, and thinly slice pears to make 8 cups. Combine with sugar mixture, set aside.
Roll half pastry 1/8 inch thick and fit into a 9 inch pie pan; trim excess from edges. Pour in pear mixture. Roll remaining pastry into 1/8 inch thick round; place over pears. Fold top pastry under bottom pastry. Flute edges. Slash top in a few places to allow steam to escape; brush with beaten egg. Bake at 400 degree oven until bubbly, about 1 hour.
When done remove pie from oven. Cut a 3 inch hole in center of top crust; lift out the pastry and slowly pour in cream, lifting pears slightly with a knife so cream seeps in. Replace pastry and let pie cool in pan on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
adapted from Julia Child- Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol.1
Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
5 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
1/2 cup cold water +/-
1. Process flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined. Add butter and shortening, and pulse until pieces of butter are about the size of peas, 3 to 5 quick pulses. Redsitribute mixture evenly in processor.
2. Sprinkle water over flour and butter mixture. Pulse mixture a couple of times until mixture starts to from a ball. Dump contents of food process on a lightly flour board and press the dough firmly into a ball. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Uncooked pastry dough will keep for 3 to 4 days under refrigeration, or it may be frozen for several weeks.