A wintery pear pie, lightly spiced and sweet with salted caramel, encased in a crispy, flaky all-butter crust and topped with fresh ginger gelato. Jump to Recipe
Hello! I feel like I should be saying ‘long time no see’, or ‘welcome back’. It’s been seven weeks since I last wrote anything down here – the longest break between posts since this blog began back in 2015. Not on purpose, but between travelling and university, time has slipped and slid past more quickly than anticipated. In some ways this pause has made it harder to get restarted, more difficult to gain momentum – each week blurring into the next. As if I’m starting from a standstill rather than already in the rhythm of running. Let’s hope muscle memory kicks in.
A quick recap (which you might know a bit of from my instagram stories): I spent the winter holidays overseas – even more perfect than imagined, if that’s possible. London was bigger and more diverse than I’d thought, Prague more beautiful and featured more great coffee and food than I assumed, Berlin more cultural and with wonderful food markets, and Paris was just – Paris. Like something straight out of a movie, complete with morning wanders for patisseries (pistachio and dark chocolate escargot from Des Pain et des Idees, anyone?), three euro bottles of rosé on the St Martin canals, sleepy afternoons in the gardens of Versaille and picnics under the glittering Eiffel tower.
(I will put together individual travel posts for each city with photos and my food highlights/recommendations when I get my act together – hopefully soon, but my track record recently hasn’t exactly been flash!)
I stepped off my 30 hour journey back to Melbourne straight into “lecture week” – essentially a condensed tour through paediatrics, with eight jet-lagged, coffee fueled hours each day of information overload. So, no posts happening then. Juggling around my schedule, I briefly escaped back to Auckland for a few days of catching up on those niggly appointments (yay for haircuts, but NOPE to dentists) and loading up the family with baking. No ingredient costs (thanks Mum!) + three brothers to consume everything in sight makes for the perfect environment to test recipes.
Holidays are now very much over – it’s the countdown to exams. THE exams. The last exams that really matter in medical school, testing all the clinical knowledge we have gained over the past four years (which still isn’t all that much in the scheme of medicine, but it feels like a lot right now, that’s for sure). Weekly posting as per usual is off the cards, as is any significant time spent in the kitchen – but I’ll be over here sporadically when time and stress levels allow. And eating pie. Definitely eating pie.
That pie today is a salted caramel pear pie with ginger gelato – a hug of wintery warmth in a mouthful. Tender, lightly spiced pears cooked in a slightly salted, vanilla scented butterscotch sauce; a crisp, buttery all butter pie crust courtesy of Four & Twenty Blackbirds; and a kick of sharp melting ginger gelato to tie it all together. Plus more caramel sauce, if you like. The pears bubble through the gaps in the rustic, sugar-coated lattice, filling the house with comfort.
ALSO: if you have time, check out this quick interview of me with a look at my home kitchen up on Stuff NZ last week. A bit of fun, and both the recipes seen will be coming to the blog in the coming weeks (/months, let’s be honest).
A wintery pear pie, lightly spiced and sweet with salted caramel, encased in a crispy, flaky all-butter crust and topped with fresh ginger gelato. See Cook's Notes below for an easy timetable.
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 225 g (2 sticks, 1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup cold water
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 110 g unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
- 1.2 kg (2 1/2 pounds) ripe but firm pears
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3/4 cup of above salted caramel sauce
- 1 egg for egg wash
- demerara sugar for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup cream
- 100g piece fresh ginger peeled and sliced into 1/2cm segments
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup caster sugar (100g)
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons honey
Using a food processor or a pastry blender in a large bowl, stir the flour, salt and sugar together. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture (or pulse briefly in the food processor) until mostly pea size pieces of butter remain. A few larger pieces are okay. If using a food processor, transfer the flour-butter mixture to a large bowl.
Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with the bench scraper, spatula or your fingers until fully incorporated. Continue to add the ice water mixture, 1-2 tablespoons at time, until the dough just comes together with a few dry bits. This normally takes about 10-12 tablespoons total.
Divide the dough in half and shape into two flat discs. wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
In a small pot, combine the sugar and water over low heat until just dissolved.
Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a boil until it turns a deep, golden brown colour, almost copper. This can take a while but keep an eye on it as it can burn very quickly.
Once it has turned dark golden brown, turn off the heat and gradually stream in the cream, whisking constantly. The mixture will bubble and steam vigorously - be careful.
Whisk the final mixture together over low heat and stir in the vanilla extract and sea salt. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Roll out one disc of dough to line a greased, 9 inch (22cm) pie pan: place the dough on a large piece of baking paper on your work surface with a sprinkle of flour (it may need to rest for 5 minutes to soften enough to roll). Use a rolling pin to roll out to about 30cm diameter. Move the dough onto the pie plate by folding the baking paper & dough in half over your rolling pin, peeling the backing paper over and unrolling the dough onto your pie plate. Press firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan and trim the edges, leaving about 1cm overhang of the rim for crimping later. Place in the refrigerator.
Reflour your surface and roll the second disc out. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut 2-3cm strips of dough, long enough to cover the diameter of the pie tin. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
Peel and core the pears and slice into 1 cm pieces. Combine wiht the sugar, flour, spices and lemon juice and toss gently to coat.
Add the pears to the pie shell. Drizzle 1/2 to 3/4 cup of salted caramel sauce evenly over the top of the pears
Arrange the strips of pastry in a lattice over the pie (see here for instructions) and crimp the edges.
Put the whole pie in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking to set the pastry.
When ready, put the pie on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Beat the egg in a small bowl to make an egg wash, then use a pastry brush to coat the lattice and outer crust with egg wash (be careful not to drag any caramel onto the lattice as it will burn)
Sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 220°C or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 180°C, and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes or until deep golden and bubbling.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2-3 hours. Serve with scoops of ginger gelato (recipe below)
In a small saucepan, combine the vanilla paste, milk, cream, ginger and salt. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat off and leave to steep for at least 20 minutes.
In a the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand beater, beat together the egg, egg yolk and sugar until pale and thick, falling in ribbons when lifted with a spoon. Set a fine mesh sieve over the bowl.
Pour the warm milk-ginger mixture into a blender and puree on high until smooth. Pour through the fine mesh sieve into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Get as much of the ginger-milk liquid through the sieve as you can, then discard the fibrous ginger you are left with.
Whisk in the creme fraiche and honey.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions until frozen. Store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use (up to 2 weeks)
For an easy timetable:
- The day before serving:
- Make the ginger gelato, churn and freeze overnight
- Make the all-butter pie crust and leave wrapped in the refrigerator
- Make the salted caramel sauce
- The day of serving:
- Roll out the pie crust and lattice - refrigerate
- Mix together the pie filling
- Put together the pie, freeze for 15 minutes to set the pastry and bake!