Poached Pear & Pumpkin Pie

I help write a weekly newsletter for one of the businesses that I am involved with. This newsletter goes out every Thursday evening and to my surprise, one of the most popular bits of the newsletter has become my inclusion of recipes. “That’s not so odd” you say. But wait… the newsletter is going out to a bunch of folks who pipe smokers! Yep. The Smokingpipes.com newsletter is read by foodies, too. Last night I mentioned in the newsletter that I had a hankerin’ for pie. While writing the column, I mentioned that I hadn’t figured out what kind of pie I was going to make, but that I would include the recipe in the next newsletter. Readers of this blog will get a sneak peek at the recipe. I wanted something fall-like and unusual for a pie. I also wanted something that I had never tried before. Translation: complete hit or total failure. There is exactly one slice left and it’s mine… all mine!

Poached Pear & Pumpkin Pie

This recipe has several components, so plan to become one with the kitchen for a good while!

The pear part…

4-6 Bosc pears
1 Bottle of Pinot Noir
1 1/4 cup of Sugar
1 Star Anise
1 stick Cinnamon
1 Vanilla Bean (you may not use extract)
1 tbsp Black Peppercorns
Zest of a lemon
1/4 cup of apricot jam

Core and peel the pears. Split that vanilla bean lengthwise. Combine the wine, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, vanilla, peppercorns, and lemon zest in a large deep pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to about medium and add the pears. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pears are still firm, but have just become tender. You’re going to want to make sure that the liquid actually submerges the pears so that they will evenly color. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to occasionally turn the pears. Take the pears out of the pot and set aside to cool. Reduce the heat a little more, add the jam and continue simmering the sauce until it is reduced by a little more than half. Set it aside. Cut the pears into 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick slices. Keep children, spouses, and small animals away from this stuff.

The filling part…

3 large Eggs
3/4 cup heavy Cream
1 1/2 cups canned Pumpkin
1/2 cup firmly packed light Brown sugar
2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1 tsp ground Ginger
3/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp ground Allspice
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (try not use already ground)

In a large bowl whisk together filling ingredients until combined well. Well that was difficult, right?

Making the pie…

You are not allowed to use a store-bought pie shell. You wanna use one? Fine. You can’t use this recipe. My rules. So you’ll need to make some pastry dough. Stop whining. Baking is work.

The butter pastry dough part…

2 cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 /12 sticks of cold unsalted Butter cut up into small bits
6-7 tbsp ice water

In a large bowl whisk together flour and salt and with fingertips blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork to incorporate, until mixture begins to form a dough. On a work surface smear dough in 3 or 4 forward motions with heel of hand to slightly develop gluten in flour and make dough easier to work with. Form dough into a ball and flatten to form a disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.

Assembly, stage 1…

Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch (1-quart capacity) pie plate and trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Cut edge of dough with scissors every 1/2 inch to form curved points and brush edge lightly with egg wash (1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp of water). Chill shell 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Assembly, stage 2…

Pour filling into shell and bake in middle of oven 35 minutes. Remove pie from oven and arrange pears decoratively on top of filling. Bake pie 15 to 20 minutes more, or until custard is set and pears are tender. Cool pie on a rack. Warm up the poached pear sauce until it just starts to simmer again. Whisk in a bit of butter and stir until the butter is all melted and the sauce has become shiny. Strain this sauce as a drizzle over the top of the pie or strain it and brush it on. Chill it all for a bit and then attack.

Pears and Pumpkin may not sound like your typical, sweet, gooey pie thing. It’s not. But it is rather good…


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