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Pear Pie with Crème Fraîche Caramel

yield: 1 nine-inch pie


For the Crème Fraîche Caramel

    (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

    • 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

    For the All-Butter Pie Crust

      (makes one double-crust 9-inch pie)

      • 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

      For the Pear Pie with Crème Fraîche Caramel

        (makes one 9-inch pie)

        • 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


        For the Crème Fraîche Caramel

        • 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.

        For the All-Butter Pie Crust

        • 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.

        For the Pear Pie with Crème Fraîche Caramel

        • 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.


        Reprinted with from Sweeter Off the Vine, by Yossy Arefi, copyright 2016
        published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.