Vegan since 1975, I decide to answer the question, "What DO you eat?" These posts tell about some meals and recipes my family and I have enjoyed over the years.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Pear Pie the Organic Way and How to Make Vegan Pie Crusts

A generous local organic farmer was kind enough to give me a bag of pears this past week, which I promptly turned into two PEAR PIES. I believe they were Yellow Bartlett pears, and they were very easy to cut in half, remove the centers, and cut into thick slices. I looked in Joy of Cooking for some ideas of how to flavor pear pies. My memory from a child was that pear pie involved some kind of creamy stuff around it, but I think that's just how my mother made it, and I don't remember it fondly. Yet, pears struck me as being a little more bland than, say, an apple, so I knew it would need to be perked up in some manner.

There was a recipe for baked pears that gave me some guidelines. I ended up adding a little cinnamon, lemon, sugar, chopped walnuts (the part I probably wouldn't have thought of on my own) and a few dribbles of the remains of the lemon-infused vodka. That seemed to do the trick, as the little chewy bits of walnuts were a nice foil to the mushy pears, and the lemon and cinnamon did their perking jobs.

Two Organic Pear Pies
½ peck of organic pears (about 16)
½ cup organic sugar
1 organic lemon, juiced
½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbl lemon infused vodka, or maybe some white wine
1 cup organic walnuts, chopped

2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups organic white flour (with the germ added back in—you can buy it that way)
½ tsp salt
1 cup organic sunflower oil (or enough to turn the flours into crumbly mixture)
up to ½ cup of water (or enough to be able to form dough into a soft pliable ball)

It's nice to have other people helping you cut up the fruit, while you mix up the dough for the crust. I did not have that help, so I made the dough first.

Stir the two flours together with the salt. Add the oil and mix it in with a fork until it looks all crumbly. You can certainly add a little more of any of these ingredients, if you need to adjust them. I usually try to make a little extra dough, so I have enough to make the crusts fluted and joined on the edges.

Add the water very gradually, as the dough can get too wet very quickly. As soon as it can hold together in a ball, with no extra dry crumbly parts, it is probably enough. If the dough falls apart, you need a few drops more. After forming one big ball, divide that ball into two slightly larger and two slightly smaller balls. The larger ones are for the bottom crusts, and the smaller for the top crusts.

I like to roll the crusts out between waxed paper. I reuse the two sheets of waxed paper for all four crusts. Pull the wax paper out until it is square shaped, then cut it off. Use a rolling pin to flatten the balls one at a time. Press the first large ball down, then roll across it and then across in the other direction. Once it is pressed out like that, you can start rolling around it in a pivoting circular fashion, which helps to form it into a flat round. By the time it is peeking out of the edges of the wax paper, it is probably big enough.

Take off the first sheet of wax paper and set aside to reuse. Flip the crust so the remaining wax paper is now on the top. Lay across your pie plate, and remove the wax paper. You can adjust the crust and mush it around to fill in any spaces. Now make the other bottom crust.

At this point, turn on the oven to 425 degrees to preheat. You can roll out one of the top crusts and let it sit to wait for you until you deal with the pears.

Wash the pears and pull out their stems, cut them in half, and remove their seed cavities. Collect all these halves in a bowl, and at the end, cut them into two or three lengthwise slices each.

Stir in the lemon juice (which you can just squeeze right on the pears, if you catch any seeds), the sugar and cinnamon, and the lemon-infused vodka.

Chop up the walnuts as best you can (I found a rounded-bottom chopper at a flea market, and use it in a rounded wooden bowl) and add those in.

Divide the filling into the two pies, and top them with the top crusts, pinching the edges together, and pricking the tops.

Bake them on the top rack of your oven (in the middle of the oven) for thirty to thirty-five minutes.

These pear pies make a nice change from apple, and they are easier to deal with, because you can leave the skins on.

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