If there is ever a time to start baking homemade pie, it is in the month of November. Flexing your baking muscles is always a good thing to do around the time of Thanksgiving. And if you are anything like me, you continue baking through Christmas cookie-swaps and right into the New Year. If baking pie from scratch seems like a daunting task, I’ve got a good recipe for you to try. Or if you happen to be a seasoned baker with budding bakers that need a beginner-worthy recipe, I have you covered!

When it comes to pies, there are three main components: the crust, the filling and the topping. Two crust pies are a little more difficult to make than the recipe I’m highlighting today which features an oil-based push crust, a generous filling of pears and a streusel topping.

The crust is the most beginner friendly component of this pie. The ingredients are stirred together and formed into a ball. Then the ball is pressed evenly into a pie plate and up the sides. Alternatively, the dough ball can be rolled out between two sheets of wax paper. The crust can be chilled while the filling is made.

Pear pie is my favorite pie and if you haven’t tried pears in place of apples in a pie, you must! Pears have such a delicate flavor and texture making a perfect complement to the soft pastry and crumbly streusel topping. Pear pie is much like apple pie, but pears are easy to work with and are very consistent when they bake. In various growing years I’ve had trouble with apples taking on a tough texture or not being flavorful enough for my liking. Pears have never let me down!

Any baker has a streusel topping recipe that is a go-to, and here is mine! Streusel can go on coffee cake, pumpkin bars, banana cake and just about anything that requires a decent bake at 350F. If your recipe doesn’t need the oats, simply swap them out for 1/4 cup flour.

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This pie can be made ahead and frozen, the baking time will just need to increase by 20-30 minutes and the top should be covered with foil during that last portion of baking so the pie doesn’t get too brown.

To add a bit of excitement, drizzle caramel sauce and heap on freshly whipped cream when serving. Fruit pies are always lovely after they have set, so they slice nicely. I find myself warming this up by the slice with the caramel sauce draped over the top.

Easy Harvest Pear Pie

Cristen Clark, Special to Agweek
Cristen Clark, Special to Agweek
Makes one 9” standard sized pie

Pie Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

7 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons cider or white vinegar

1/4 cup ice water

Combine dry ingredients, whisk well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pat into a 9” pie plate, up the sides and crimp decoratively if desired. Chill while making filling.

Filling:

6 Bartlett Pears (firm yet ripe), peeled and sliced ¼” thickness

1/4 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup granulated sugar (3/4 cup if your pears are ultra-sweet)

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Pour into pastry lined pie plate. Cover evenly with crumble. (Recipe follows).

Crumble Topping:

1/2 cup room temperature butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup rolled or instant oats

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans (optional)

Combine all ingredients. Evenly distribute on top of pie.

Bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 40-50 minutes until slow bubbles form in the juices around the edge of the pie. Cover pie with foil if it is getting too brown at the end of baking. Remove from oven. Allow pie to rest for a few hours to “set.” Serve with cinnamon ice cream or caramel sauce and freshly whipped cream.

Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at cristen@foodandswine.com or at foodandswine.com.