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Vanilla Pear Pie

Vanilla Pear Pie has a heavenly flavor and aroma. A hint of vanilla bean enhances but doesn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of fresh pears. Move over Apple Pie, this just might become your favorite new autumn dessert.

a slice of vanilla pear pie on a glass plate

Apples and pumpkins get all the attention in the fall – apple cinnamon this and pumpkin spice that. Well, pears are also an autumn fruit and deserve a little of the fall-baking glory.

For this pie I purposely kept the flavors simple. Much as I adore pears and ginger together, I wanted a more subtle and surprising flavor profile.

A little hint of vanilla bean gives this pie the perfect little “something”. Serve this pie for the holidays and it will certainly stand out from all the cinnamon and spice desserts on the table.

How to make the perfect Vanilla Pear Pie:

  • For the best flavor and texture, use pears that are ripe but still firm.
  • I used a variety of pear similar to Anjou. Bosc pears are also great for baking.
  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, macerate the fruit for your pie filling. Pears are quite tender and macerating helps keep them from completely breaking down as the pie bakes.
  • Precook the pear juice with the cornstarch. Precooking ensures that the starch is activated so we don’t end up with soupy pie filling.
  • You can adjust the amount of sugar in the filling based on the sweetness level of your pears.
  • Use a vanilla bean to flavor the pie filling. In a pinch you could use vanilla extract, but vanilla beans have a much fuller flavor that is so so good with the pears.

Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make Vanilla Pear Pie:

a bowl of chopped pears with sugar and vanilla
Toss the pear chunks with sugar and vanilla bean seeds.
a bowl of macerated pears with juice
Macerating the pears causes them to release some of their juice and draw in some of the sugar.
a pot with pear juice and cornstarch cooked together
Cook the pear juice with cornstarch ahead of time to ensure that the pie filling will set properly.
a spatula mixing thickened pear juice into pear chunks to make pear pie filling
Fold the thickened pear juice into the pear chunks then pour the filling into the pie shell.
an unbaked pear pie
Use the tip of a paring knife to cut a pear-shaped vent hole on top of the pie.
a freshly baked pear pie
a slice of vanilla pear pie on a plate

I made this pie with a fantastic Sourdough Pie Crust. If you keep a sourdough starter it’s a wonderful recipe to use sourdough discard.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a slice of vanilla pear pie

Vanilla Pear Pie

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours

Vanilla Pear Pie has a heavenly flavor and aroma. A hint of vanilla bean enhances but doesn't overwhelm the delicate flavor of fresh pears. Fresh Pear Pie might be your new favorite fall dessert.

Ingredients

  • Your favorite 2 crust pie dough
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 3 pounds (1.36kg) firm, ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced to 1/2" thick
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) granulated Sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup (1.5 oz, 40g) cornstarch
  • 1 egg white

Instructions

  1. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Combine the sliced pears with the sugar, the seeds and pod from the vanilla bean, and the salt. Set aside to macerate for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Roll 1/2 the pie dough and fit into a 9 deep-dish pie plate. Roll the other 1/2 of the dough to a 12" circle. Sprinkle the circle with flour, fold in half then fold again. Wrap the folded dough in plastic and set into the dough lined pie plate. Set the pie plate into the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Remove the vanilla pod from the pears. Drain the pears, save the juice. Transfer the drained pears to a large bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the pear juice with the corn starch. Heat the juice on medium until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and whisk constantly until the juices are very thick and become translucent. Immediately toss the thickened juice with the pear slices.
  5. Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator. Pour the pears into the pie plate. Unfold the dough round for the top crust. Use the tip of a small knife to cut a 2" pear-shaped hole in the middle of the crust. Brush the edges of the bottom crust with egg white. Lay the top crust over the filling with the vent hole centered on the pie. Pinch the two crusts together to seal. Trim the excess dough and use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges.
  6. Brush the entire top crust of the pie with egg white and generously sprinkle the pie with granulated sugar.
  7. Place the pie a sheet tray and bake until golden brown and the fruit in the middle of the pie is tender and the juices are bubbling, about 1 hour.
  8. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool for at least 2-3 hours before cutting.

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a slice of rhubarb pie on a plate

Perfect Pie Crust

Yield: 2 crust pie
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

A Perfect Pie Crust is a thing of beauty. Because there are so few ingredients in a basic pie dough, how you mix those ingredients is crucial to achieve just the right texture. Add the fats in two stages to get a tender and flaky pie crust.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 oz, 285g) all purpose flour (see note)
  • 2/3 cup (3.5 oz, 100g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 115g) leaf lard (or vegetable shortening), cold
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 115g) butter, very cold and sliced into 1/4" thin slices
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 118 ml) ice cold water
  • 1/2 tsp cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Combine the all purpose and cake flour with the salt and sugar. Whisk together to mix the ingredients evenly.
  2. Using your fingers, cut the lard or shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse corn meal. Using your fingers, toss the butter into the flour mixture. Allow the slices of butter to break up into slightly smaller pieces into the flour. Work quickly so the butter doesn't get warm. Don't break the butter down completely. There should be some large flakes remaining.
  3. Mix the water and the cider vinegar. Pour the water onto the flour all at once and toss to combine. Gently press the dough just until it comes together. It will look a little dry in spots. The water will redistribute in the dough as it rests.
  4. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before using.

Notes

This recipe uses a mixture of all purpose and cake flour to mimic pastry flour. All purpose flour will give the dough enough structure so it can hold the flaky texture and a small proportion of cake flour will help keep it tender. If you have pastry flour you can use that in place of the flour mixture.

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a closeup of a pie made with sourdough pie crust
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