My freshman year of college, I remember sitting in the room of a good friend at the time. She was one of the first girls I had met on campus, and we were brought together by the fact that we'd signed up for the same ambitious rafting/climbing orientation trip and lived in the same block of dorms. She and I were gossiping about our peers, predicting which friendships would falter given the highly dramatic and volatile social dynamic of of our small dorm (because I guess that's what happens when you get stick a group of 18-year-old guys and gals in a small, enclosed space — people stop being polite and start getting real — SEE WHAT I DID THERE).
She turned to me and confidently said, "I'm pretty sure that you and I are probably going to be friends for the long haul."
And of course, by the end of the year, we weren't speaking to each other at all.
I wish I could say that story makes me sad, but honestly, I've seen a LOT of friendships come and go. Often times, the decline of what seemed like a long-lasting friendship corresponded with the end of a significant chapter like school or work. Because as whatever initially brought us together came to end, we realized that without that common ground, we didn't actually have much else in common at all. So at this point in my life, what surprises me more are the friendships that do stick around.
The friends who are closest to me now are no longer defined by parameters like school, work, or even proximity. Instead these are the friendships so deeply founded that trying to write about each so generally would do all a great disservice. Alternatively, there are also the folks with whom I have actual genuine shared interests with. I don't say that lightly — it's kind of amazing that this blog has brought me so many people that I turn to for friendship and support! Because even if we've only met each other a few times in real life (if at all!), I trust some of my fellow blogger friends' opinions more than some of the people I know in real life.
One of the blogger friends I'm talking about is Yossy from Apt 2B Baking Co. Although Yossy and I have only hung out a few times, I can tell you that she's the real deal. Not only do I wholeheartedly trust her baking skills, I also trust her advice on blogging and making things work in the kitchen and outside of it.
Yossy's new cookbook, Sweeter Off the Vine, is coming out in a few weeks and it's a keeper. When her book arrived, she'd slipped in a sweet little note telling me that she hoped one of her recipes could be one of my pie-a-month pies. I very happily obliged. This pie is one of her cookbook's recipes and the all-butter crust, the crème fraîche caramel sauce, and its use of pears as opposed to more traditional apple all come together beautifully. It is genuinely one of the best pies I've ever had.
Congrats on the new cookbook, Yossy!
Some baker's notes:
- Yossy's pie crust recipe uses all-butter, which is not necessarily the most forgiving crust — it shrinks, it's hard to work with, it makes me cry. If you're not confident in your pie baking skills, be sure to check out this recipe for salty honey pie as a primer — it's got all my best pie baking tips! Yossy's method also deviates slightly from what I'm used to. While I usually use a pastry cutter to cut my butter into the flour, she flattens the butter into the flour with nothing but her hands! It's a really cool trick that leads to a super flaky crust, but you have to work quickly and make sure your ingredients are cold at all times.
- Due to a slight personal crisis that needed to keep me distracted for a few hours, I went a little crazy with the pie crust. Inspired by this Instagram account and this Food52 post on unexpected pie crust lattices, I opted for a "leaf relief" pie crust border with a random lattice. It's beautiful (but does it looks better before it was baked?), but I'm embarrassed to tell you how long it took. Also, all that fancy work ended up requiring almost twice as much pie dough than what her recipe calls for. So if you're going all fancypants like me, make sure to double the pie crust quantities provided below! And yes, you can get those awesome leaf cutters online.
- You can make the crème fraîche caramel up to one week ahead of time and store it in an airtight jar with a lid in the refrigerator. When you pull the pie out of the oven, it'll look like the pie has leaked and exploded all over the place, but don't panic like I did and frantically text Yossy. That's just the caramel bubbling. It settles back down as it cools, I promise. Your pie is okay.
published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
- 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick // 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped from the pod
- 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) crème fraîche, at room temperature
- 2 2/3 cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) cold unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) ice water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 pounds ripe but firm pears
- 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche caramel
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- Combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a medium saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium high heat, swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar dissolves, but do not stir. Add 1/2 cup cubed unsalted butter and vanilla seeds and pod. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally so that the mixture browns evenly but do not stir until the mixture is amber in color. At this point, don't walk away from the pot — the caramel will go from perfectly amber to burned in mere moments.
- Once the caramel is deep amber in color, remove the pan from heat and carefully whisk in the crème fraîche until the sauce is smooth. The caramel may bubble violently, so watch for splatters. Carefully remove the vanilla pod and allow the sauce to cool on a wire rack before using. Store the sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight jar with a lid for up to one week.
- Whisk 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl. Cut 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Whisk together 1/2 cup ice water and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
- Working quickly, add the butter to the flour and toss to coat. Then use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter in the flour as you go to ensure that each butter piece is coated with flour. The idea is to create flat, thin shards that range from about the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter. If at any time the butter seems warm or soft, briefly refrigerate the bowl.
- Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of the icy cold vinegar-water mixture over the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to stir the water into the flour until just combined. If the dough seems dry, add more cold water a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and easily squeeze it together without it falling apart.
- Press the dough together, then split in the half. Form each half into a disk and wrap each disk in the plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours before using, preferably overnight.
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 (F).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the pie dough disks into a rough 12-inch circle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the circle to a 9-inch pie pan and store in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the pie.
- Next, make the lattice top. Roll out the other disk into a 12-inch circle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Cut into strips. Transfer the strips to a baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
- Peel and core 2 1/2 pounds of pears and slice them into 1/4-inch slices. Transfer the slices to a large bowl along with 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice and juice from 1/2 lemon. Stir gently to combine.
- Add half the pears to the pie shell, and drizzle 1/4 cup of the crème fraîche caramel over the top, then add the remaining pears. Drizzle the remaining caramel on top. Lay out the prepared pie dough strips for the lattice and carefully weave a lattice. Trim off any excess lattice too long for the pie plate and fold the edges of the bottom crust up and over the lattice strips. Crimp the edges together. Slide the whole pie into the freezer until the crust is very firm, about 15 minutes, before baking.
- When the pie dough is firm, it's ready to be baked. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Beat 1 large egg in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to brush the top of the pie with egg wash. Sprinkle the egg wash with 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar.
- Bake the pie until it is deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. If the crust begins to burn before the filling bubbles, tent it with aluminum foil. Cool slightly before serving. The pie is best the day it's made.