Desserts | November 2, 2009

Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel

Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel

Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel
Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel

I went to a holiday dessert gathering last week, and thought it would be fun to try a new pie recipe. The crust was an all butter crust that called for “blind baking”. It seems like every cooking magazine I read lately talks about “blind baking”. What is it? It’s another name for lining a pie shell with foil or parchment paper, filling with beans, rice or pie weights and then simply pre-baking crust. After following this recipe, I’m not a fan. I’m sure there are some pies that could benefit by blind baking. But this recipe is not one of those. By the time the crust (which we’ll talk about in a minute) was completely baked, it was tough and almost chewy. HELLO, fancy cooking magazine people- pie crust is suppose to be flaky, tender and light.
This recipe calls for an all butter crust. Now, you know how I love butter. Every time I try an all butter crust, I end up going back to my tried-and-true-most-simple-and-best-crust-in-the-world recipe. This happens about once every two or three years.
Kind of like my repeated sewing adventures: (skip this part if you are over my silly rambling stories) Enter fabric store, for some unknown reason? Good thing they don’t make you show some type of “license to sew” before entering and being allowed to purchase, or require a note from your Home Ec teacher Ruth Schold. Mine would say “even though you passed 7th grade sewing, when you wore your completed project (a lovely polyester t-shirt) to school, the sleeve fell off” Unfortunate. Back to the fabric store adventure- look at all of the beautiful fabric. Sit down and look at patterns. Convince myself I can make something with the sewing machine my mother bought me because “you have four kids, you need a sewing machine”. Spend a bunch of $ on fabric, notions, pattern. Drive home, lay out the fabric, cut out the pattern. Cut off all of the little triangles on the outer edge of the pattern. Call a friend who sews. Ask- what’s a bias and how do I tell which side is the “right side”? Swear off sewing and ban myself from all fabric stores. For a few years.

Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel

Crust- where were we… butter crust, like sewing, always sounds like a good idea. NEVER again. All butter pie crusts are inferior to crust made with shortening. Trust me. I’m a pie-aholic, I know these things. See more obsessive notes about this pie below the recipe. I would make this again, but omit the attached butter crust and use my favorite crust instead. Happy baking.
Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel
Yummy fresh pear filling

Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel

Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel


For streusel:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz. 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

For filling:

  • 3 lb. ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears 6 medium, peeled and cored, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges and then crosswise into 1/2-inch slices (about 7 cups)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup dried tart cherries coarsely chopped
  • grated zest of half of one lemon
  • 1 blind-baked All-Butter Pie crust

For Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/8 ha really? teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons water


  1. Put all dry ingredient into medium bowl. Cut or rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Drizzle the water into the mixture. Mix with a fork, gather the dough together and form into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour. Roll out dough onto floured surface. Place in pie plate. Trim and crimp edges. Prick the sides and edges with a fork if using for a single crust. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. This will prevent shrinkage. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line the chilled pie crust with foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the beans or weights. Reduce oven temperature to 375. Bake until bottom looks dry but is not quite done and the edges are golden, 5-7 minutes more. Let cool while preparing filling.

For pie:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, set a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 350°F.

Make the streusel

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, blend the butter into the flour mixture. Set aside.

Make the filling

  1. In a large bowl, toss the pears with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the sugar mixture to the pears and toss well to combine. Stir in the cherries and lemon zest.
  2. Mound the filling into the pie crust. Pour the streusel topping over the pear mixture.
  3. Put the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake until the pastry is golden-brown and the filling is bubbly and thickened at the edges, 55 to 65 minutes. Rotate the pie halfway through baking, and if the pastry or streusel browns before the filling has thickened, loosely cover the top or edges of the pie as needed with a pie shield or a sheet of aluminum foil.
  4. Transfer to a rack, sprinkle with a little granulated sugar and cool completely before serving. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Recipe Notes

-The pie itself was yummy. The pear and dried cherry filling was unusual. A nice change from the predictable apple or cranberry apple my kids love. The more pieces I tasted, the more I liked it. I think next time I make this, I'll use golden raisins, instead of the cherries. The cherries do plump up nicely while cooking. And although I love dried cherries, I wasn't absolutely crazy about the change in flavor (of the cherries) after baking. The streusel created an almost caramel type topping for the pears. Really good the next day, after the pie cooled completely. Really good with a little vanilla bean ice cream.

-If you want to try the butter crust, go ahead, I would not pre or blind bake the crust before filling. Just increase the baking time to 1 hour at 400 degrees.

3 thoughts on “Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel

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  1. I always make all-butter pie crusts. However, you do need to use a different technique and they won't be as neat. I cut 1/3 cup room temperature butter into a cup of flour with a bit of salt. Then I dribble ice water in until it is sort of like streusal–it does not form a ball. I dump it onto a floured surface and press with a spatula–not my hands. Cut in half and put one half on top of the other Press down again. After doing this several times, the dough will come together enough to roll out. It's flaky because the bits of butter have been pressed flat.

    The problem with all-butter pie crusts is that butter has less water than shortening, so that in order to make it easy to roll out, you must add too much water and that makes it tough.

  2. Sort of funny how you keep thinking you want to sew when your niche is baking. I have the opposite going, I sew all the time and I keep trying baking. I swore I would never bake another pie crust! I tried your french bread and now I think I might be capable lol. I’ve tried so many of your recipes now! Yes, I even succeeded with your pie crust, it makes me happy! I am studying the blind baking for a coconut cream pie I want to make so I came back to read your thoughts. Thanks for all the great recipes that actually work!!!
    …you should try quilting lol, that’s where the fun is at!