Is it odd that I treat myself by baking something new? Buying life supplies has really gotten in the way of buying baking supplies. Socks or cream cheese? Shampoo or semi-sweet chocolate? Tampons or unsalted butter? When you’re an independent woman you’ve got to prioritize.
Anyway, we had a company barbeque this week. It was thrown by Italians, so instead of hamburgers, there was pasta. It also rained that day, so instead of socializing in a backyard, we just had free food and beer at the office.
…So, it was like every other night!
The point is, it was an excuse to bake something.
At first I was overwhelmed. What to bake? What to bake! I have a never ending to-do-list and I wanted to splurge on ingredients.
Then I realized my hand mixer is broken. Which meant whatever I was going to bake had to be made completely by hand.
(By the way, I’ve been pulling 14 hours at the office and didn’t have any time to make this pie and ended up whipping it together over my lunch break. No big deal.)
So, I wanted to try something a little different than a basic pie. This recipe really jumped out at me. It’s a little more time consuming, but worth it. The flavours are complex, warm, and so delicious. (Although, I realized, even though it’s an unexpected combination of ingredients, all pies look the same with a lid. Dang.)
As I was scooping pie onto the Polish Prince’s plate he said, “Not so much, what if I don’t like it?”
Oh how I laughed and laughed.
PEAR, FIG & WALNUT PIE 1 recipe Pâte Brisée 3/4 cup Marsala wine 6 black figs, stemmed and quartered 3 stars of anise 3 lbs (about 6) barlett pears 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted 1 lime, juiced 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 tsp salt 3 tbsp. cornstarch 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1 egg yolk 1 tbsp. heavy cream Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
Bring wine, figs, and stars of anise to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer figs to a large bowl. Cook reserved liquid over medium-high heat until reduced to a syrup, about 3 minutes. Discard stars of anise. Pour syrup over figs.
Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of dough to a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Roll out second disc to a 13-inch round. Lay dough round on a sheet pan and refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
Peel and core pears, slice into 1/4-inch thick wedges. Add pears, walnuts, lemon juice, granulated sugar, salt, and cornstarch to figs and syrup and stir until combined. Spoon into dough-lined pie plate, piling high in centre. Dot with butter, and lightly brush the edge of the dough with water. Drape second disc of dough over rolling pin, centre over the filling, and gently press the dough around the filling to fit. Trim the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the edge of the top crust under the bottom one, and crimp to seal. Combine yolk and cream together. Brush mixer all over the dough, and sprinkle the pie generously with sanding sugar. Freeze the pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with rack on lower level.
Transfer pie plate to a parchment or foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, and bake until just golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. Bake until juices are bubbling and crust is deep golden brown, about 1 hour (if edges brown too quickly, cover with foil). Let pie cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.