Free-form pies, sometimes called "galettes," are one of the most homey and rustic desserts out there. A simple crust is folded around a heaping pile of fresh fruit sprinkled with sugar, then baked on a cookie sheet until caramelized and golden. The most famous of these comforting tarts use apples, but blueberries, peaches, and plums are also common.
Today's Cook the Book recipe, excerpted from Sweetie Pies by Patty Pinner, is for Miss Oleda Halliburton's East Pear Pie on a Baking Sheet. Generously spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, this pie is incredibly simple to prepare, yet sure to impress. Come autumn, we'll be serving our slices with mugs of hot cider.
- Dough for one 9-inch single Flaky Pie Crust
- 1 cup sugar (a little more or less, depending on pear sweetness), plus one teaspoon for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 5 cups peeled, cored, and thinly sliced firm pears
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the crust to 1/8-inch thick, 16-inch circle. Transfer it to an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, making sure to press out any creases. Set aside.
In a good-sized bowl, combine one cup of the sugar (add more or less to suit your taste), the cornstarch, and cinnamon. Add the pears and vanilla, and, using a large fork, toss to coat the mixture. Spoon the pears into the center of the crust, spreading them within two inches of the edge.
Bring the crust up over the pears to form a border of about two inches, pleating and folding the crust as needed. To give the pie a polished look, brush the folded edge with the lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.
Place in the oven and bake until the pears are tender and the crust is a pretty brown; about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.