There are two types of people in this world: those who like their pears hard, and those who like their pears soft. These two groups are irreconcilable, and I’ve never heard of someone changing preference.
I’m of the hard pear type. For me, a good pear is so tough that it hurts your gums to bite down into it. At that point, they’re still fresh of flavour, and your hands come out of the experience relatively unharmed, that is, juice free. There’s only a very brief period in which pears are fit for human (or rather, hard pear person) consumption. A couple of days after purchase, usually, the inevitable softening sets in, and with the softening comes the sweetening. I don’t know how it’s possible, but soft pears are just so sickeningly sweet.
So there I was, in the university library café, with a pear that had seemed decent enough when I grabbed it in the morning, but that looked completely inedible now that it’d spent a few hours in my backpack. The Dane looked at it disapprovingly – he too, is a hard pear person. The thought of someone eating a bruised, browned, abomination of a pear like that one was unbearable to him. When I told him I still had a few more pears left at home, he quickly texted his mum to ask her for a recipe for pear pie, which she immediately whatsapped our way. I gave it a shot with the remaining pears and it was absolutely wonderful.
For one pear pie, use:
- 4 old, dirty, soft pears
- 240 gr flour
- 125 gr sugar
- 150 gr butter + extra for greasing
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp cold water
- a pinch of salt
- a sachet of vanilla sugar
- a small chunk, about 1 cm, of fresh ginger, grated
To serve, get yourself some sour cream! As for equipment, you’ll need some baking paper, some cling film, one of those funky little silicon brushes, and a spring form cake tin.
First, make the dough – it needs to rest for an hour before you can use it, so start making this well ahead of time. First, mix in the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and grated ginger together. Also grate in the ginger. Cut the cold butter up into small chunks, and use your hands to mix those into the dry ingredients, making a crumbly mixture.
Now beat your egg with a tablespoon of water, and add that to the crumble mixture. Mix it around with a fork for a bit, then just get your hands in there, and knead the dough until it’s a smooth ball. I had to add a little bit of flour while kneading, because the dough got a little bit too sticky and difficult to handle.
When you have a nice smooth ball of dough, wrap it up in cling film and stick it in the fridge for an hour or so. Then remove it, slice it in two, put one half back into the fridge and roll the other one out to a little over the size of your cake tin. Grease your tin with butter, then put the dough in. As for rolling out the dough, it’s of the type that tears easily and that will stick to everything, so I find it really helpful to roll it out between two layers of baking paper. You can then peel off the paper fairly easily.
So put your dough circle in your cake tin and press it down well on the sides, making sure you have a little wall of dough that’s roughly the same height on all sides. Now quickly peel your pears, cut them in half, remove the cores, and put them in the cake tin, round side up, stem side to the centre of the tin.
Get your other half of dough out, roll it out, put it over your pears and press it down on the sides so that the pie is closed. Now brush some water on the top layer, then sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. Bake for 40 minutes in a preheated oven on 220°C.
The Dane suggests: Pear pie is really, really sweet, so it goes well with something slightly sour, such as sour cream with a little bit of vanilla sugar mixed in.