I am so honored to be part of OXO’s Bake a Difference for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer this month. Baking to support this organization, which raises funds to support research addressing the number one cause of childhood death by disease in the U.S., is a labor of love indeed. My recipe for Spiced Pear Pecan Pie blends traditional and modern; two of my favorite fall flavors come together in my grandmother’s pie crust, using some of OXO’s coolest kitchen tools – for a dessert that is mouthwateringly good!
Did you know that: 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer each year; only four of the 12 most common pediatric cancers have average survival rates over 80%; and less than 3% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes to the 12 major groups of pediatric cancers combined? Two members of the OXO family, Gretchen and Larry Witt, discovered just how few effective cancer treatments were available for children when their son, Liam, was diagnosed at the age of two. They decided to dedicate themselves to raising funds for research into new, less toxic and more effective ways to treat children with these deadly diseases, and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was born.
For many years OXOnians have supported Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and since 2011, OXO has pledged to donate up to $100,000 each year toward their efforts. This year that total includes $100 for individual posts (like this one!) from participating bloggers who develop and share a recipe using OXO products. Needless to say I am so happy to Bake a Difference and share this recipe – and OXO’s innovative products – with you!
I love baking, I love autumn, and I love pie. I haven’t always been a pie baker, but the more pies I bake the more I want to bake pies! Yes, the crust can be intimidating, but same as anything else, practice make better – not perfect, but perfect isn’t necessary when we’re baking from the heart. I found my Grandma Helen’s recipe for apple pie in her collection and was captivated at the thought of using her traditional crust with a new filling, and naturally my thoughts turned to classic fall flavors.
Pears and pecans came to mind quickly. Pecan Pie is one of my absolute favorites, but I often hear folks say it’s too sweet. I thought that adding some crisp pears tossed in warm spices might balance the sweet and also bring more texture to the pie. Ready to bake? Here we go:
Weigh or measure the flour into the bowl. Add sugar and salt – notice the cool Stainless Steel Measuring Spoon ~ it’s part of a set that is magnetized to hold together (fun for kids!) so you can easily use and clean them without losing them and without the annoying metal ring. They are also flat on the bottom so you can set on the counter without spilling whatever you’ve measured.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your clean hands…
…and add ice water a little at a time (there’s that cool measuring spoon again!)
Mix the dough with a fork and it will start to come together. You may need to add more water depending on the weather, the heat in your kitchen, your flour…once you’ve added the 4 Tbsp. the recipe calls for, it’s handy to use a spray bottle to spritz more water wherever the dough looks dry. This makes it less likely that you’ll inadvertently add too much.
Bring the dough together into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour.
Lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough.
This pie doesn’t have a top crust – if it did I would have made a beautiful lattice using the ruffled edge of the Double Pastry Wheel! I did use the plain end to trim the rough edges, and I turned my pie plate upside down as a guide.
Now OXO’s Glass 9″ Pie Plate is really something – probably my favorite piece of the package. It’s 2″ deep, which made it big enough to combine the pear and pecan pie fillings, and you can see it’s got a large rim that makes it easy to lift and move. The best part? It’s made of thermal shock resistant borosilicate glass, which means it can go directly from freezer to oven without the need to thaw!
So my pie crust went straight into the freezer for a few hours (you can make the crust ahead, which is great for the holidays) until I was ready to fill it – so my crust stayed nice and firm – and then it went right into the hot oven to bake.
For the filling, I sliced the pears into four segments off the core and then sliced each segment thinly.
I tossed them in a mixture of flour, brown sugar and apple pie spices, and into the crust they went.
I sprinkled chopped pecans over the pears, and then stirred up the pecan pie filling.
The 4-cup Angled Measuring Cup is great, because the measurements are in the inside, on a patented angled surface that lets you look straight down and see how much you’ve got – no need to squat down to your counter and squint at the side of the cup!
The 4 cup capacity also meant I could mix up the filling in it; no need to get out another bowl…
…and the pour spout made it a snap to evenly fill the crust over and around the pecans and pears.
I brushed the crust with a little milk for a nice golden brown color. OXO’s Silicone 1″ Pastry Brush is super neat – it’s got layers of multi-layered bristles to evenly coat the food, and the middle section has gaps in the bristles to hold more of whatever you’re basting. Silicone means it’s as easy to clean as it is to use, too!
The pie baked for about 85 minutes. I know that seems like a long time – but I think that the juices from the pears cause the pecan pie filling to set up more slowly. I covered the pie for about 15 minutes toward the end, and it browned just beautifully. The filling was still a bit “wiggly-jiggly” (no, there really isn’t a better way to describe it!), but it set as it cooled. Storing it in the refrigerator keeps it firm; I recommend making this pie the day before so that it has plenty of time to set and chill.
I can’t even tell you haw amazing my whole house smelled as it baked – we almost couldn’t wait to cut into it! When it was time to serve it, OXO’s Pie & Cake Server made it a breeze. It’s serrated on both edges so you can cut from either side – this leftie is most appreciative! The non-slip handle ensures great leverage, and the BPA-free head is safe for non-stick surfaces.
When we tried it and my daughter said “It tastes like Thanksgiving!” I knew I had a winner. This pie is destined for our holiday dessert sideboard for sure. Don’t forget to save some for the next morning if you can ~ the day after Thanksgiving is National Eat Pie for Breakfast Day. Enjoy. y’all, and Happy Fall!
I hope I’ve inspired you to get into the kitchen and Bake a Difference! For more information about how you can get involved with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, or to donate, visit: Cookies for Kids’ Cancer or OXO
I’m proud to partner with organizations that place an emphasis on and share my interest in giving back to the community. ~ Jason Day
- Grandma Helen’s Crust:
- Makes 2 crusts for regular pie pan or 1 crust for a deep dish pie plate.
- 2 cups (9 oz. weighed) all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 5 oz. (6 Tbsp.) cold butter, cut into pieces
- 4 Tbsp. ice water (plus more as needed)
- Spray bottle filled with ice water
- 3 large pears, peeled, cut from the core into 4 segments, and sliced thinly (about 4 cups)
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 4 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. apple pie spice
- 1 cup Karo Dark Corn Syrup
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp. butter, melted (I use unsalted)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 generous cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- Milk for brushing pie crust
- Pie Crust:
- Measure or weigh the flour into a large bowl.
- Add the sugar and salt, and mix.
- Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture until you have chunks the size of almonds.
- Add the ice water a Tbsp. at a time, mixing in with a fork.
- The dough will begin to come together; if you need more water, use your spray bottle to lightly spritz it onto the dry areas, mixing with the fork just until it comes together.
- Shape into a thick disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Lightly flour your rolling surface and dust the top of the disc with flour.
- Starting from the middle, roll out, turning the dough a slightly each time.
- Roll into a circle a couple of inches larger than the pie plate.
- Transfer dough to the pie plate, easing it all the way into the bottom.
- Fold the edges under and crimp as you like.
- Wrap in plastic and place in the freezer for at least a few hours.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and apple pie spice.
- Add the pears and toss gently; pour into the bottom of the crust and distribute evenly.
- Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the pears.
- In another bowl, mix together the corn syrup, egg, sugar, butter, and vanilla.
- Pour the pecan mixture over the pears.
- Brush the edges of the crust with a little milk.
- Bake 80-90 minutes* until crust and top are brown and the filling is starting to set; the filling will wiggle-jiggle a bit, but will firm up as the pie cools.
- If your crust is getting too brown, cover the edges with foil.
- Cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.
- Store pie in the refrigerator.
Pecan Pie recipe adapted from the back-of-the-bottle classic recipe on Karo Dark Corn Syrup.
I like to chop the pecans because I think it more evenly distributes the pecans in each bite!
*Cook time will vary with different ovens.
Disclaimer: OXO provided the kitchen utensils featured in this post for me to cook with and review. I was not compensated in any other way, and all the opinions expressed are my own.