Pear, Apple & Fig Pie with Hazelnut Crumb Topping

The Pie Academy’s Tailgate Pie of the Week: Week 9

 

I think it’s safe to say that most people consider pie to be a pretty casual dessert, and I wouldn’t disagree.

But even within the casual realm, there are pies that are clearly playful – last week’s peanut butter pie, for instance – and some, at the opposite end of the spectrum, that lean toward sophistication.

This week’s Pear, Apple & Fig Pie is a perfect example of the latter. It’s the sort of pie I’d happily serve at a tailgate party – this IS week 9 in our parade of tailgate pies, after all. But I wouldn’t hesitate to offer it at a dinner party, either, nudged up against a generous scoop of coffee ice cream or coffee flavored whipped cream, like I have here. (Coffee is the ribbon that ties the three featured flavors into a perfect bow.)

I don’t recall where I first learned of the flavor harmony between pears, figs, and hazelnuts but if you’ve never tried this threesome in a single spoonful, you’re in for a treat. It’s as if they were destined to end up in this pie together. Lucky you and me.

Be advised this is not a pie you just dash off, so don’t bother trying. There are extra steps involved – figs to simmer, hazelnuts to toast – and it helps if you’re in no rush and planning to be in the kitchen anyway. So put this one on your pie bucket list, with a mental note to make it sooner than later. You won’t regret it.

PASTRY NOTE: Use any favorite pie pastry recipe you like for this recipe. I like the GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH. 

TOPPING NOTE: Be sure to make the TOASTED HAZELNUT CRUMB TOPPING ahead of time, as you’ll need time to toast, skin, and cool the hazelnuts.

Pear, Apple & Fig Pie with Hazelnut Crumb Topping

Ingredients

  • TOASTED HAZELNUT CRUMB TOPPING
  • GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH, refrigerated
  • FILLING
  • 1 1/2 cups moist dried figs, preferably Calimyrna or Black Mission variety
  • 1/3 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 4 cups peeled and thinly sliced fresh pears
  • 1 cup peeled and sliced apples
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions

  1. If you haven't already, prepare the hazelnut crumb topping. Refrigerate.
  2. On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, roll the pastry into a 13" to 13 1/2" circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2" deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry down into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Place in the freezer until needed.
  3. Make the filling: cut the stems off the figs then slice the figs about 1/4" thick and put them in a medium-size, nonreactive saucepan with the orange juice. Bring to a simmer, then simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the pears, apples, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the orange zest. Mix well then set aside for 10 minutes. When the time is up, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir into the fruit. Stir in the figs and their juice.
  5. Turn the filling into the pie shell and smooth the top. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°.
  6. After 25 minutes, slide the pie out of the oven and place it safely on a protected counter. Immediately spread the hazelnut topping evenly over the fruit. Tamp down very lightly, to compact. Put the pie back in the oven and bake another 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbly and a rich golden brown. If the pie starts to bubble over, slide a piece of aluminum foil onto the shelf below it to catch drips. Makes 10 servings.
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