I had every intention to make apple crisp. Someone had posted a question on my Twitter account asking for my favorite recipe. I sent along a link to the recipe and thought how good it sounded. So I went to a nearby farm stand to pick up some apples, but there was a farmer offering slices of pears as samples.
I looked at his sign. “$5 a pound?” I asked him.
“$5 for the whole basket,” he answered.
I bit into the pear slice. Juicy and sweet, perfectly ripe. So I bought the basket, a peck of sunny gold Bartletts. How could I not? Storebought pears are so hit and miss: hard as hockey pucks one day, then too mushy to eat the next.
But what was I going to do with a peck of pears? I started with the crisp. I could have swapped out the pears for the apples in my standby recipe. But that recipe really focuses on the topping. I wanted one that focused on this amazing fruit. So I turned to another that I’m quite fond of from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It’s usually used for plums, but she gives a pear variation.
The results were delicious: soft fruit, crunchy topping, an ode to fall. And a stroke of good luck for me in running into the farmer with his overabundant supply of pears.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
You can also divide this recipe into individual ramekins which is a particularly nice way to serve it at a dinner party.
1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus additional for dish
21/4 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oats
3 pounds ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart baking dish. Place on a baking sheet.
Combine flour, brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Add butter. Cut in using on/off turns until mixture is clumpy. Stir in oats.
In a large bowl, toss pears, lemon juice, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, allspice and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour pear mixture into prepared dish. Crumble oat topping over.
Bake until topping is golden and juices bubble, about 50 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if using.