This pear crostata, pie, galette, or whatever you want to call it, is just so incredibly delicious and couldn’t be more perfect for fall. If you love apple pie, then you will undoubtedly love this.
Pears are to me, earthy and sweet and go naturally well with vanilla. The ginger and lemon serve to provide contrast to that earthy sweetness with acidity and heat. Make this and you’ll know exactly what I mean. I highly recommend serving this à la mode, with a small scoop of good quality vanilla bean ice cream and be transported to your happy place.
The sensory pleasures of cooking and eating:
I decorated my serving dish with rosemary and often use it, thyme or bay leaves to adorn my charcuterie boards because I often have them on hand, they’re pretty and provide a pop of freshness and colour. I do it mostly for aesthetics, but a happy byproduct is that you also get the aroma. I was listening to an audio book about the famed Spanish chef Ferran Adria in which he (or his brother) spoke about the way you can “taste” something through aroma and how the aroma of one thing can complement the flavour of what you’re eating. I knew exactly what he meant although the meaning really came into focus for me with this crostata. I think a clear example is when you twist a piece of lemon or orange zest over a cocktail. You’re getting the essence or aroma of the fruit, to compliment the flavours in the drink. So, although here is no rosemary in the recipe, when you are cutting and serving the pie, the aroma of the herb associates itself to the pie and goes so well together. Rosemary and pears, turns out, are a great match. Serve a little sprig alongside the slice of pie, not to be eaten together but rather for a little heightened sensory pleasure. That is, for those of us to aren’t scarfing it down in 3 bites 😉 They won’t get it.
Another sensory pleasure for me is making my pie dough by hand. There is something so satisfying and relaxing to me about the process. I like the tactile sensations and the aroma of the butter. So satisfying.
This is why I think that for myself and so many, baking is a relaxing and therapeutic experience. If that’s your thing and let’s face it, if you’ve got the time. I hope you do sometimes 😉
I categorized this recipe as “Difficulty: Moderate and Easy”, on purpose 😉 This is because if you’re still learning how to make dough, you may find it challenging. If you are an expert or simply want to buy the dough ready-made, you will find this as easy as can be. I’ve added instructions for making dough in the food processor as well as by hand.
There was a time in recent years where I felt that I would never master making my own pie dough. I was assured that it’s normal, it takes practice, and it does, but it also takes a well written recipe with visuals to show you the cues to look for. I had an epiphany when I got Claire Saffitz’s cookbook Dessert Person. The recipe for her all-butter pie crust seems long and complicated at first glance but no. Once I dove in, I realized that the instructions were detailed, yes but easy to follow, with pictures. To my surprise, the method was foolproof, and everything turned out as it should, every step of the way. Now I am much more confident when making dough that I refer to the recipe only for quantities and I’m making pies left and right! Inviting me to your house?? Expect a pie! Coming over?? Expect a pie! Office celebration? Expect a pie!
I hope that my explanation and videos will help you on your journey to pie dough making if, well… that’s a journey you even want to go on.
In any case, ENJOY! 😉
Vanilla Ginger Pear Crostata
- Large food processor or pastry cutter
- large sheet pan
- parchment paper
- Rolling Pin
FOR THE DOUGH (makes one 9-inch pie or tart crust)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (200g) + more for rolling out
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 stick + 2 tbsp unsalted butter (142g) divided and kept chilled
- 1 tbsp Apple brandy or regular brandy (optional) to combine with ice water
- 1 cup ice water (you won't need it all but it's just easier to work with)
- 1 large egg beaten, for egg wash
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
FOR THE FILLING
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon I added 1 tsp by mistake and it was good lol
- 1 tbsp zested or grated fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 vanilla bean cut lengthwise, seeds scraped and pod reserved for another use (or 3 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste)
- 4 Pears halved, cored, and very thinly sliced
- Flakey salt such as Maldon
- Food processor: Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut your butter into small cubes. (I precut them and keep them in the fridge or freezer until ready to use) Add the butter and pulse until the butter is in pea-size pieces. In a measuring cup, combine the brandy (if using) with the ice water. Add a couple of tablespoons of water pulsing to combine (only adding water sparingly as needed) Pulse just until the dough begins to hold together in bigger clumps. Transfer dough to a clean work surface and pat together. (A few dry bits are ok, the dough will hydrate in the fridge.) Shape the dough into a round disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
- By hand: Combine ice-water and brandy (if using) in a measuring cup or bowl and keep in the fridge until ready to use.Cut the stick of butter into small cubes and then cut remaining two tablespoons of butter into 1/8" thick slices (you'll have lots of butter squares 😉 Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon with a whisk until all is evenly incorporated. Add the 1/2 cup (1stick) of cold butter cubes and toss to coat in the flour mixture. Next cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or by hand until you get pea-sized bits. Then add the final two tablespoons of butter (slices), this time smooshing the peices between your thumbs and fingertips, creating thin sheets of butter and tossing them in the flour, letting them break if they want to (This contributes to flakiness) The mixture should now look course, like grated parm in texture with some bigger butter bits and butter sheets. (Refer to videos below for visual cues)Slowly drizzle about 5 tbsp of ice water (avoiding ice) and toss lightly with a fork or your fingers to incorporate. Using your fingers, toss the mixture until shaggy peices of dough form, then knead the mixture inside the bowl a few times to bring it together. (The dough will look clumpy and dry with loose bits). Line your work surface with a sheet of plastic wrap and transfer the large clumps of dough to the plastic. There will be dry bits remaining in the bowl. Drizzle 1 tbsp at a time and toss with a fork only until a few dry spots remain. Gather it together and add to the dough already on the plastic wrap. Knead to incporporate and form into a disk. (A few dry bits at the bottom of the bowl is fine, they will hydrate in the fridge). If you see bits of butter throughout the dough, you're on the right track 🙂 Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for minimum 2 hours ideally or up to 2 days. 1 hour will suffice if you're in a rush but Claire (the queen) Saffitz, says 2!
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF
- In a medium bowl, massage the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers to release the essential oils. Add the ginger and toss together with the lemon juice, vanilla bean (or extract), add a pinch of flakey salt. Stir until well combined and set aside.Remove dough from the fridge and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out your dough to about 1/8 of an inch thick, adding flour underneath it and on top to avoid sticking. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and place your dough onto it.Spread the paste-like filling onto the center of the dough, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border along the edges. Fan out the thinly sliced pears and place haphazardly on top of the center of the dough, covering the filling. Fold the edges up over the pears and press gently to seal. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Sprinkle additional raw sugar over the pears.
- At this point you can bake the tart for 30-35 min or until the pastry is golden brown, or place the entire tart in the freezer for 30 minutes or overnight.Note: Freezing the crostata for 30 minutes before baking is a good idea if your dough has warmed. You want the dough and butter to keep their firm consistency to ensure the flakiest dough possible.