I am going to work backwards in time as I describe my experiences cooking my way through the Collards & Carbonara cookbook; mainly because I just finished the last piece of their Apple-Pear pie and I can’t get the flavor out of my mind. First let me say that I know how to make apple pie. In fact I was elected by my 4-H club to make the apple pie for the Woodbury County Fair Pie Contest. Each club was charged with entering a pie made by one of the club members. I had been working all summer to perfect apple pie using apples from the trees on our farm our Grandpa Larson had planted years earlier. So I vividly remember climbing the trees to select what I thought were perfect apples to use in my pie entry. To reward my efforts my pie was judged to be worthy to be sold at the fair auction and I felt I had earned the title of ‘master apple pie maker‘. Then I married a man who hated cooked apples and my apple-pie baking skills faded into the distant past. Don’t get me wrong – I would order apple pie whenever it seemed like a good dessert choice when we went out to eat but I completely stopped baking them at home.
What changed you wonder – well I had been having such excellent results preparing recipes from the Collards & Carbonara cookbook that I took a big risk and used the nice Bartlett Pears HyVee had on special with some apples I had also purchased (despite the fact that it is not apple season) and suggested making an apple-pear pie. I trusted that my husband would at least try one piece to be able to comment on the recipe . To further encourage his enthusiasm I read the introduction Michael made about this recipe.
“We love a traditional apple pie. Every year in late summer and fall, we eat so much apple pie that we had might as well consider it our daily fruit intake. For our version of this iconic fruit dessert, we switch up the American tradition a bit: We use half apples and half pears.” – Michael
Well since my husband is eager to increase his fruit and vegetable intake he agreed to sample the pie if I made it… so I began by reading the entire recipe and making a list of ingredients I had and those I needed to get. I love how the cookbook clearly lists all of the ingredients on the left side of the page so I can scan it quickly and make my lists. In this case I already had everything on the ingredient list which included;
For the Crust: all-purpose flour, confectioner’s sugar, Kosher salt (which I wasn’t sure why it had to be kosher so that is a question I need to put to my chef son), unsalted butter, and ice water.
For the filling: Granny Smith apples, Honeycrisp apples, and Bartlett pears (all peeled, cored and thinly sliced which meant I could use my Pampered Chef Apple-Peeler Corer device and my Ace Hardware Pear Cutter/Coorer which really speeds up the time to prepare the fruit and makes it all look so nice and uniform), light brown sugar, all-purpose flour, orange, lemon, ground cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, and that Kosher salt again!
For the final step: unsalted butter, egg yolk, and granulated sugar.
Making the Pie
I carefully read the instructions to make my list of steps; which in the previous recipes I had made required me to go to other pages in the cook book to prepare specific components of the dish. But for this recipe – everything was all described on the same page. So to make the pie I:
- made the crust in a food processor by combining the flour, sugar, and salt and pulsed a couple of times to mix. FYI in my pre-food processor days I would do this step with first a fork and then after wedding gifts were given a pastry dough cutter. I love modern technology! Then I added butter and pulsed a few more times, poured the mixture in my favorite brown baking bowl, added ice water and mixed with a fork until the dough came together into a rough ball which I turned onto a floured surface and formed into a disk. Now here is the twist from my normal making pie pastry routine – I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for 2 hours (or I could have left it overnight).
- preheated the over to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- combined the apples, pears, brown sugar, flour, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt mixing it well and then let it stand for 10 minutes to “release the juices from the fruit”.
- divided the dough into two portions and rolled the first half out into a round ~1/4 inch (6 mm) thick bottom crust. I placed that into the 8-inch (20-cm) pie pan and rolled out the top crust. The recipe called for me to cut the top crust dough into strips to make a lattice – but to save time, I just rolled it like the bottom crust.
- poured the filling into the pie crust and dotted it with butter.
- I covered the filling with the top crust and then trimmed the excess dough and fluted the edges even with the pie pan rim.
- brushed the top crust with an egg wash and sprinkled a little sugar on to help with the browning.
- baked the pie for about 15 minutes – until the edges of the crust began to turn brown. Then I was instructed to reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and baked it for an additional 40 minutes. To ensure the pie was done I tested the apples with a toothpick.
- let the pie cool on a wire rack – but I monitored carefully as I wanted to make sure we had a chance to eat fresh warm apple-pear pie!
And now for the results: I thought the pie was out of this world delicious! And I waited, rather nervously, for my husband’s review and breathed a sigh of relief when he said:
“If all fruit pie was like this, I too could meet my daily fruit intake.” And after the pie was all gone he reflected: “I liked it cold and hot, and had more than one piece.”
Success!!!! Next I want to make the Peanut Butter and Banana Pie. I still can’t believe they have shared the recipes of their most popular, signature desserts. But since it would be a 9 hour drive to get pie – I feel I have already gotten my money’s worth out of the cookbook – oops! I can’t say that as my book was a gift from my son, the Chef.