I’m just going to say this: I am so proud of this pear streusel pie. I know it’s only the middle of October, but you guys, I’m already planning my Thanksgiving menu and this is on it! I love Halloween, but Thanksgiving is like the marathon I’ve been training for all year long. I’m lacing up my apron, I’m grabbing my rolling pin, and I’m ready. October is all about the pears. Have you noticed all the varieties at the grocery store? Pears are fantastic in pie, but always seem to take a back seat to apples. They really shouldn’t. Pears and pie is a magical, happy thing.
But I didn’t want to just make a pear pie. I wanted to make it really special and really autumnal, so I added a bunch of dried fruit. Because why not? I love mixing fresh and dried fruit – the blend of flavors and textures is pretty wonderful. And it works especially well here. I used a tiny bit of coconut sugar to sweeten the filling, but with all the pears and dried fruit, it doesn’t really need much. Plus, the streusel on top is plenty sweet and buttery. It really helps balance out the flavors and adds extra texture with a little bit of crunch.
So. Gluten-free pie crusts can be tricky on a good day, and we won’t say what on a bad day. I usually opt for tarts because the crusts are easier to make and most of the time I just have to press them into the pan and they’re done.
When I was deciding which recipe I wanted to develop next in partnership with Pamela’s, I decided that I needed to bite that bullet and make a gluten-free pie crust once and for all. The Pamela has a video (see below for the video, how to photos and tips) that shows how easy it is to mix up and roll out the gluten-free pie dough. I watched it several times in a row because I didn’t think it would be that painless…but it was! I can now say I’ve made a gluten-free pie crust successfully. (Pat on the back.)
The key is to use the right mix for the job. I found out that using the bread mix is the way to go. It’s formulated to be perfect for making bread, so it’s ideal for making pie crust too. Pie crust is all about the structure, but it’s also flaky. That’s what makes it delicious. Without the strands of gluten to give structure, most gluten-free pie crusts don’t behave like crusts made with wheat. But this one does! Happy day! The dough is nice and soft – not as finicky as regular pie dough by any means. You can roll and patch it without worrying it’s going to get tough. It’s a dream to work with.
The edges brown up so nicely too. That’s something that is difficult with gluten-free anything – getting that golden, crisp edge.
Now, I want you to be able to try your hand at making some yummy things this fall with Pamela’s Products baking mixes, so I chose three more of my favorites for today’s giveaway. Hooray! All you need to do is fill out the form below (super painless – just your name and email address) and you’ll be entered to win. You can enter once a day, every day until the giveaway ends.
Available to U.S. readers with valid shipping address. (No P.O. Boxes)
Remember – you can enter once a day. So come back tomorrow and the day after that, and the next day…
The giveaway ends on October 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM (Mountain Daylight Time)
Good luck! Please share this with your gluten-free friends.
And now for the recipe!
- One 19-ounce package Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix, dry (reserve yeast for another use)
- 12 Tablespoons (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 6-7 Tablespoons ice water
- For filling:
- 3 large ripe, but firm pears (about 1½ pounds), cored and thinly sliced
- 1 cup chopped dried figs (4 ounces dried figs, chopped)
- ¼ cup each: currants, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dates
- 2 Tablespoons coconut sugar, maple syrup or brown sugar
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Streusel topping:
- ½ cup Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix (reserved from pie crust)
- ½ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
- ½ cup chilled butter, cut into cubes
- Whipped cream, coconut cream, mascarpone cheese, or creme fraiche, for topping
- For crust -Preheat oven to 350°F. Have a deep-dish pie plate ready to go.
- Remove ½ cup of the dry bread mix from the package and set aside for streusel topping. Place remaining mix into the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer. Scatter the cubed butter over the bread mix. Pulse, if using food processor, about 10 times to work the butter into the flour. If using a mixer, turn on to low speed to work the butter into the flour. It will resemble cornmeal with larger, pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.
- With the processor or mixer running on low speed, add the ice water to the bowl a little at a time. You may not need all of it. When the dough comes together into a ball, stop the motor. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides. Check to see if it's too dry. If so, add a little more water. It should be soft and pliable, like cookie dough, without being too sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Form into a disk. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a large round about ¼" thick.
- Carefully transfer the dough to the pie plate. If it cracks or breaks, no worries. Just press it back together and continue. Trim off the excess dough from around the edge. Decorate the edge all the way around by pinching it between two fingers, or using another method. Chill until ready to fill and bake. (The pie dough scraps can be saved and rolled out to form pie crust cookies.)
- For filling - in a very large bowl, combine pears, dried fruit, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and spices. Transfer to the pie plate and prepare streusel.
- For streusel topping - in a food processor or using a mixer, combine the reserved bread mix, sugar, and nuts. Scatter the butter over the top. Pulse in the food processor or turn mixer on to low to incorporate butter into the dry ingredients. It should look crumbly, but should hold together when pressed.
- Squeeze small bits of the streusel to form bigger clumps and place them evenly on top of the pie filling. Sprinkle the rest of the streusel over top to cover completely and fill in any gaps.
- Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool slightly before serving.
- To serve - cut into wedges and top as desired.
HOW TO PHOTOS + TIPS
Here’s Pamela showing how easy it is to make and roll out the crust.
Rolling the dough between sheets of parchment means you don’t need extra flour. It’s also super easy to transfer the dough to the pie plate. I’ve used a deep dish pie plate for this recipe.
One bag of bread mix is enough for two 9-inch crusts. You’ll need more than half the dough for this recipe. The excess dough can be re-rolled and turned into pie crust cookies.
The dried fruit will absorb some of the pear juices as the pie cooks and plump up. This means you don’t need to add any thickeners to the filling. It’s all fruit with a little bit of sugar.
The streusel topping is plenty sweet and buttery. It works really well to balance the filling, which is not overly sweet. Using cold butter will help you get really nice clumps of streusel. If the butter is too warm, it will end up too soft and could turn greasy.
The pie takes about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes to bake through. You’ll know it’s ready to come out of the oven when the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Give it a few minutes to set up before cutting into it. The pie is great at room temperature, but warm is the very best way to enjoy it.
Serve with a dollop of something creamy. Mascarpone is spectacular, but you can use whipped cream, coconut cream, yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream. Or eat it plain. (Out of the pie dish, with a fork. I won’t judge.)
Disclosure: This recipe was developed in partnership with Pamela’s Products. I am a Pamela’s Baking Partner for 2014. I have been compensated for my time. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.