Homemade Bite: Pear Crumble

Pear Pie. Say that five times fast. 

Can’t? 

Well, that’s why we’re making a crumble.

Seriously though, this crumble is fantastic. And like anything else, it’s all about the ingredients. Finding fresh, ripe pears is absolutely vital. Unlike most fruits, pears don’t ripen on the tree. They need time off of the tree to develop their internal sugars, which in turn, provide that wonderfully sweet taste. This long process of ripening from the inside-out explains why, perhaps, you’ve bitten into a pear and been unpleasantly surprised by a crunching sound and a dull flavor. No one likes a crunchy pear, so make sure you check if yours are ready to go.

There’s just one trick you need to know in order to tell if a pear is ripe: check the neck. The neck of a pear is the upper section around the stem. If you squeeze the neck and the pear gives in to the pressure, it has passed the test. For this recipe, I used six large organic Bosc Pears, which worked perfectly, although any type of pear should do the trick.

The filling contains about five cups of sliced pears tossed with lemon juice, bourbon, spices, and various sugars. The pears have to macerate for about 20 minutes, which allows them to release their sweet juices and, by doing so, create the perfect filling. Take just one bite of the finished product and you’ll see how well all of the flavors—cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, bourbon, and pear juice—combine to form a delectable coating around the pear slices. Not to mention the fruit then gets tossed in a half-cup of the crumble to enhance the thickness and sweetness of the filling. 

Next, the pear mixture is topped with a pecan-studded crumble. The crumble has an unexpected crunch, especially after it has browned atop the bubbling fruit. Unfortunately, you’ll have to let the finished product sit for about three hours after taking it out of the oven. This time allows the juices to thicken and rest. It’s torture to know that your delicious Pear Crumble is waiting for you on your counter. (If you’re like me, you might sneak a bit anyway)

This crumble will stink up your kitchen—in the best way possible. The spices in the juice are very fragrant and they release a pleasant smell in the oven. As for the taste, you also wont be disappointed. Because the pears are so soft, the texture of the filling is gentle and elegant. It’s like eating the world’s most tender apple pie. The juice surrounding the pears is bursting with flavor from the spices, sugars, and fruit juice. On top, the crumble adds a wonderfully sweet crunch with its sugarcoated pecans. Each glorious bite will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy!

Recipe

Timing:

  • Prep Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Total time: About 4 hours (includes cooling)

Yield: One pie (12-inch diameter)

Ingredients

The Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoon cold buttermilk

The Filling

  • 6-7 ripe but firm pears, any variety, peeled and sliced, about 5 cups sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

The Crumble

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • large pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions

  1. To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. Add a bit more buttermilk if necessary, but you want to mixture to be shaggy and not outwardly wet.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Gently knead into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.
  3. To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.
  4. To make the filling, in a medium bowl toss together sliced pears, lemon juice, and granulated sugar. Allow to macerate for 20 minutes. Add brown sugar, flour, spices, pepper, salt, bourbon, bitters, and vanilla. Toss to evenly coat the pears in the mixture but try to be gently enough as to not bruise the pears too much.
  5. To make the crumble, in a medium bowl (yea… we’re using a lot of medium bowls), whisk together flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter chunks and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the mixture until well incorporated. Some butter bits will be the size of peas, and smaller. Add the pecans and toss to combine.

To Assemble

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Toss a handful (about 1/2 cup) of the topping mixture into the pear mixture, toss. Dump the fruit mixture into the pie crust. Top generously with topping mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. It’s important to use the middle rack because if the pie is too close to the top of the oven, the pecans will burn quickly.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool for 3 hours before serving. This will allow the juices to thicken and rest.
  5. Serve in generous slices with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Storage Instructions: Baked Pie will stay fresh in an air-tight container for up to four days. You can also make the pie dough 1-5 days in advance, since it needs to chill. To make the pie in full 1 day in advance-- after it cools, cover tightly and keep at room temperature. Baked pie freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.