On the eighth day of Christmas, my Bacon gave to me…
…another excuse to eeeeeat cheeeeeese!
You may have gathered that the TV Bacon crew loves us some Pushing Daisies. The idea of a piemaker who saves money by rejuvenating moldy fruit with his magic, death-defying touch is highly amusing. The idea that he started making pies to feel close to the mother he lost…and brought back to life, just like the fruit…and then lost again, is more than a little touching. Shut up, we just have something in our eye.
While all of the pies on the show look glorious, we are especially fond of the idea of the pear pie with Gruyere baked into the crust that Chuck makes for the cheese-loving aunts who think she’s dead. Try the following version, adapted from recipes far, wide, and beyond for your holiday dessert this year. While there aren’t any homeopathic mood enhancers added, we think yummy pie is a mood enhancer in and of itself.
And while none of us have the piemaker’s ability to bring fruit back to life, you actually can give food a second life by donating to food banks and networks such as America’s Second Harvest, so needy families can have a Christmas dinner, too.
Crust (make it! Make it from scratch! CHEESE!)
We recommend the great Alton Brown‘s pie crust recipe. To accomplish this pie, you will need to double the recipe (you’ll want a bottom and a top crust; the recipe provides only a bottom). You will also want to add 2-3 ounces of grated Gruyere cheese to the dry ingredients before cutting in the fats. While Mr. Brown recommends using lard and butter for excellent scientific/culinary reasons, if you’re like us, you use the inability to find pie crust-appropriate lard as an excuse not to have to deal with lard at all. If you cannot/will not use lard, replace said lard with more butter or vegetable shortening.
Crust Note #1: The recipe Alton is using this crust for is a custard pie, hence the pre-baking. You will not want to pre-bake your crust for this fruit-based pie.
Crust Note #2: Do not skimp on all the chilling! Chill the fats, chill the storage surface, chill the pans…you’ll be glad you did.
Pears are…pears are great. (It is only fair to note that the Doctor disagrees.) That having been said, one of the reasons things like strong cheeses, cranberries, and ginger are often used in pear baked goods is because pears are so very, very mild. They could use a little punching up in these kinds of settings.
As a result, we are recommending a pear-apple combo. No, this isn’t exactly the pie Chuck makes for her aunts. Maybe she’ll yet get to it!
Filling note: Try substituting cardamom, a pear’s best spicy friend, for the ginger. And you’ll be so much happier if you grind your own.
If you really want your pie to look like those Olive delivers to Aunts Lily and Vivian, don’t forget to grate a little more Gruyere on the top (probably near the end of baking, maybe when you take the foil off the fluted edges). While the provided recipe calls for a typical, solid top crust, might we suggest the Martha Stewart tried and true technique of embellishing the crust with cutouts? Imagine a plethora of pears! (Maybe don’t cover them up with cheese at that point. Why hide your candle under a wheel of cheese?)