by Judy Kim
Salted Caramel Pear Pie
Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie
Happy Pi Day! I just finished making 10 pies over the course of 4 days. One for the record books regardless of how much I love pie. I feel this needs some explaination since that is a hell of a lot of pie. My (fellow rosé loving) friend Jen Davidson is the GM of one of my favorite restaurants in all of NYC, Barbuto and we planned a Pie Making Day with Executive Chef Phillip Basone. My friend Colby Blake and previous superstar intern joined me for an incredible day in the restaurant kitchen. We created a few beautiful pies just days before Pi Day. It fully put me in the mood. More about that day when I publish the recipes we created, they just need a little more testing. There is a classic blueberry pie with a twist and another pear pie coming, but this one is with bourbon apricot jam, oh yesssss! A beautiful collaboration with Chef Phillip Basone, someone I hope to keep cooking with.
But now that the big day has arrived, it was time to team up with Julie Resnick of feedfeed for the big occasion. We decided I would do a last minute Snapchat Takeover. Today I gave some general pie tips and made this Salted Caramel Pear Pie. The recipe is below, but let's not fool ourselves. The Snapchat was all about the decorative pie details. I am the Pie Crust Inspiration feed Editor and couldn't help myself to do a full demo of pie making instead of just some pie tips. I guess that's because I think every part of the pie making process is important. Especially the dough, something I worked on for over a year to develop since I usually make decorative pies with a lot of detail, but it's important that the dough be tender, flakey and taste delicious. I used to overwork the dough to make it look like, but it was really tough or crumbly.
You can find my pie demo on Snapchat "thefeedfeed" as well as "thejudylab". Something new I've been trying outside of Instagram and is crazy fun!
It feels like Spring is upon us even thought it's not even quite mid-March. So here's my Springtime Garden Wreath. A cluster of leaves and flowers around a braided lattice. Julie is working on creating a video format of the Snapchat, so we'll share that video when it's ready.
Note: One thing I didn't take into consideration was the use of convection vs conventional ovens. (I have a an option to use either setting on my oven at home but until recently didn't use the convection setting that often. )That was until my visit to Barbuto where they only have convection. After the fact, I noticed the pies we made were darker and the pastry was no longer tender and flaky. I should of recalled the convection oven tips I got from listening to one of my favorite pod casts by America's Test Kitchen (I highly suggest it!) They had a segment about convection ovens. It was simple but mind blowing. Lesson learned in a nutshell: I avoid the convection setting on my oven for baking, but it's fantastic for roast chicken where you want to dry out the skin and achieve a crispy golden brown roast chicken.
**Check my video below for a demo of this pie made on feedfeed's Snapchat. Hope you enjoy it.
- Prepare the vodka pie crust recipe. Shape one half into a flat round disk and shape other half into a flat rectangle. Wrap in plastic and let dough rest 20 minutes or overnight in refridgerator.
- Meanwhile make the salted almond caramel. In a large sauce pan combine water and sugar and melt over medium heat. Swirl pan to help dissolve. Add butter and simmer until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Stir occasionally using a wooden spoon. Watch the mixture carefully as it can burn. Turn off heat and add heavy cream carefully as it will bubble intensely. Continue to stir, add almond extract (if you want a stronger almond flavor, add 1 tsp) and 1 tsp sea salt. Set aside to cool.
- Let the dough come to room temperature for 5 minutes before rolling out to prevent cracking. On a floured surface, roll out round disk to thickness between 1/8" and 1/4". Gently roll onto rolling pin and transfer to pie dish. Trim with scissors or a knife along the rim. Place pie dish in the fridge, freezer preferably. Note: Be careful not to stretch the dough or it will just shrink.
- Use leftover dough from the pie base for decorative cut outs. Roll dough to 1/8" thickness, this will prevent the crust from getting too thick. Dip pie cutters or cookie cutters in flour and cut out shapes. Lay them evenly on a quarter sheet pan and layer using parchment paper. Place in the freezer.
- Roll out second rectangular pie dough to 1/8" thickness. Use a ruler to cut long strips for the lattice work. You can mimick my design and create a mix of braids and thin or thick strips. Work quickly to prevent the dough from getting warm. If needed, place them in the fridge to firm up during the process. This will help prevent breakage while creating the braids or the lattice work. Once you've created the strips, cut out balance of dough using combiation of leaves and flowers. Add the leaves/flowers in the freezer with the other cut outs. But place lattice strips in the fridge until you are ready for final assembly. These need to stay cold but flexible. NOTE: if you are having trouble with the dough, use 1/4" thickness for lattice work, but try to keep cut outs to 1/8". Otherwise the crust tends to get too heavy.
- In a large mixing bowl, fold in pears, 1 tbsp lemon zest, juice of 1 lemon, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla extract and 1/8 tsp of Maldon sea salt. In a small bowl beat 1 egg with 1 tbsp heavy cream. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. For the final assembly, alternate layers of salted caramel and pears in the pastry. First layer 1/4 cup of caramel in pie base. If caramel is too thick to handle, heat on low for less than a minute, just enough to loosen as too much heat will begin to melt the pastry. Layer half of the pear mixture evenly, top with 1/4 cup of caramel, layer balance of the pears and drizzle about 1/8 cup caramel. Scatter frozen butter cubes evenly all over the top layer. NOTE: There will be some leftover caramel, it will keep in the refridgerator for a week. I suggest you warm it up and drizzle it on top of a slice of pie.
- Using a pastry brush, apply a very thin layer of egg wash around the rim of the pie. Begin to lay out lattice work. Lay down each piece in both directions just to get an idea of what the design will look like, then trim the edges. Remove the top lattice pieces and begin to lift each piece alternatively. Once finished with lattice work begin with the leaf border. I prefer to use 2 different leave shapes, but one is fine. Brush the back of the leaves to act as a glue. Place leaves in random pattern facing out and inwards all around the edge of the rim. Place a variety of flower shapes and nestle into the leaves staying away from covering up too much of the lattice work, again using the egg wash as a glue. Stack some of the flowers on top of each other to create interesting textures.
- Gently brush the pie pastry with a thin layer of egg wash avoiding the filling. If there are any pools of egg wash, soak up with a papertowel, this will avoid a soggy crust. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 40 to 60 minutes, depends on your home oven. My average time is 45 minutes. Watch the pie carefully, if the border is beginning to burn place a pie crust shield or cover in aluminum foil around the edge. Some ovens might require the pie to be rotated. Test doneness using a sharp knife, pears should be tender. Let pie cool 3 to 4 hours.
NOTE: Do not use the convection setting on your oven for pies. It can cause over browning and dry out the crust. If convection is your only option, try reducing the temperature by 25 degrees (350 degrees F) and covering the pie for the first 20 minutes and then remove for balance of baking time. Watch it carefully as overall time may need to be reduced as well.
1 double crust, vodka pie crust recipe, also on my website
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream, extra for egg wash
1/2 tsp almond extract
Maldon sea salt
4 Anjou Pears - peeled, cored and thinly sliced on mandolin
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter, cut into 1/4" cubes and frozen
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