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Course: Sweets
Keyword: Baking, Brunch, Desserts, Fall, French, Fruit, Holidays, No-Pan Pear Pie, Thanksgiving

No-Pan Pear Pie

No-Pan Pear Pie on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
ACTIVE TIME: 50 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
A flaky, golden free-form crust stuffed with pears, blueberries, and balsamic vinegar.
One of the things I dislike about pie-making is the actual pie pan or dish. So I say, get rid of the pan altogether. The French do it all the time and when they do, they call it a galette, a wide-ranging term that covers any sweet or savory free-form tart. Oh, and the best thing about a galette? More crust.
You’ll notice that the butter in the dough takes two forms: room temperature and chilled. Why? Because the fat has two very specific jobs in the dough. A small amount of butter will be fully homogenized into the flour. By coating the flour particles, the fat will limit the development of gluten, thus creating a relatively tender crust. When rolled, the cold pieces will turn into very thin flakes of fat, which will melt during baking. As this butter melts, striations will form in the dough, creating flakiness.
Both U.S. standard and metric measurements are listed, but for consistently delicious results, go metric.
This recipe appeared in Season 2 of Good Eats.
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FOR THE DOUGH

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, chilled, and divided
  • 1/2 cup apple juice, chilled, in spritz bottle

FOR THE FILLING

  • 2 Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, frozen will work in a pinch
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

FOR THE PIE CONSTRUCTION

  • 1 1/2 cups cubed pound cake
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Specialized Hardware

  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Food processor
  • Pizza Cutter
No-Pan Pear Pie on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
ACTIVE TIME: 50 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Procedure

  • Pulse the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add the room temperature butter and pulse until the fat completely disappears into the dry ingredients.
  • Add half of the chilled butter and pulse until the flour mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs, about 18 pulses. Add the rest of the chilled butter and pulse 3 to 4 more times.
  • Transfer this mixture to a medium-size mixing bowl, and spritz with just enough juice to moisten the surface. Mix with a spatula. Continue spritzing and mixing until a handful of dough, when squeezed, remains compressed — you might not use all the juice. When you've got good adhesion, gather the dough into a round disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes so that the flour can absorb the moisture.
  • Heat a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the pears and toss for 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and continue tossing for another 30 seconds. Sprinkle with the sugar, and cook until the pears have softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Kill the heat and add the nutmeg, cinnamon, and butter. When the butter has melted, fold in the blueberries. Sprinkle in the 1 teaspoon flour and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature.
  • Crank the hot box to 400°F.
  • Place the dough on a floured piece of parchment and roll it out to a 1/4-inch thick disk, rolling the pin from the center out, turning the dough on the paper every few seconds to maintain evenness. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into a circle with a uniform edge, then transfer, still on the parchment, to an inverted half-sheet pan.
  • Place the pound cake in the middle of the dough, leaving about a 3-inch margin all the way around. Spoon the pear filling over the cake cubes and top with the cubed butter. Lift the edges of the dough circle and fold over toward the middle, working clockwise. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake until the filling bubbles and the crust is golden brown and delicious, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully slide off the sheet pan, and cool completely before serving.
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