Recipe: Honeyed Pear and Gruyere Pie

Everybody knows Thanksgiving is peak pie season.  What a perfect excuse to revisit my favorite show about a piemaker who can also raise the dead, Pushing Daisies.  I've done a Pushing Daises post before, not to mention recipes for showrunner Bryan Fuller's other shows, Hannibal and Wonderfalls, but there can never be too many pies on Sugared Nerd, in my opinion.  

My first Pushing Daisies recipe was for some bright, summery fresh berry cup pies.  But if there's one other memorable pie in all of the show's too-short run, it's Chuck's pear pie with gruyere crust that she bakes with mood-enhancing drugs for her aunts.  I don't know about you, but that sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving pie to me.

If you've never had cheese with your fruit pie before, you're in for a treat.  It lends a savory touch to the sweet dessert, and I've found cheese crusts to be very forgiving - always tender and flaky, never tough, even if I accidentally add too much water to the dough.  The crust would also go great with a chicken (or turkey) pot pie for your Thanksgiving leftovers.  If you're not able to easily find gruyere or just don't like the taste, cheddar works very well in pie crusts, too, but you'll want to use a regular cheese grater rather than a microplane (gruyere is a harder cheese).

We won't be using any homeopathic drugs in this pie, but I couldn't resist adding some of Charlotte Charles' honey to the recipe.  I also used a pie bird for the first time to help vent this pie, and was very happy with how pretty it turned out.  Makes an adorable presentation for your Thanksgiving table.

Honeyed Pear and Gruyere Pie


3 ounces gruyere cheese, grated with a microplane

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

18 tablespoons butter

6-7 tablespoons ice water

Cut the butter into 1/2" pieces, and put in the freezer for a few minutes.  Put the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.  Add the grated gruyere and pulse a few more times.  Last, add the butter and pulse until your flour looks like course meal.  Add water a bit at a time and pulse until the dough just starts to form clumps and hold together.

Divide the dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic, flatten into disks and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight


5 pears

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cornstarch

Peel, core, and slice each pear into 12 slices.  This may seem overly specific, but it helps the pears to cook evenly, so they're soft but not mushy.  Toss the pears with 1/4 cup sugar, then transfer them to a colander over a bowl.  Let them sit for about an hour and half.  This will sweeten the pears and also help them start to collapse.  We want this to happen before we bake them so that they don't collapse in the pie and create that big empty dome shape in the crust.

During this time, you can roll our your bottom pie crust layer and lay it in your pie pan.  Trim the edges and cover any holes.  Put the pie pan in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Transfer the pears back into a bowl and mix with the honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt.  Last, add the cornstarch and mix until incorporated.

If using a pie bird, put it in the middle of the pie plate, on the bottom crust.  I like to layer in the pear pieces by hand around the bird so that they cook evenly.  Pour any leftover sugar mixture over the pears when the pie is full.

Roll out the top crust and layer over the pears.  Push the pie bird through if using one.  Crimp the edges with the bottom crust to seal the pie.  Put in the fridge for another ten minutes, just to be sure the dough is cold before it goes in the oven.

Mix one egg with a few tablespoons of water to create an egg wash.  Brush the top crust with the egg wash.  If not using a pie bird, cut some slits into the top crust to vent.  Lastly, use a pie crust shield or some aluminum foil to cover the edges and keep them from burning.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and yummy smelling.  Cool for at least 4 hours.