I married a man who would eat sweets morning, noon and night if he had his way; in fact, the whole fam-damily loves sweets, including the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – every single one of them inherited a sweet tooth.  And if pie is on the menu, well then, it’s going to be a great day for everyone involved!  This family dreams and fantasizes about pies in every shape, size and combination including, but not limited to, what’s known in these parts as the infamous ‘pie-in-a-jar’.  In fact, they have been known to hold what’s called a ‘Piepalooza’ wherein the only item on the menu is dessert pie and plenty of it.

So when I came across this recipe from one of Gourmet’s last issues (tear, sniffle), the professor’s eyes glazed over and then an audible, ‘oooooooooo . . . ‘  You know that saying, ‘the way to a man’s heart?’  Well I’m pretty sure I’ve got the heart-thing locked up but when pie is involved, I’m not taking any chances . . .

This pie is super simple to put together and you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.  What really puts this pie over the top is the brown sugar which turns into the most delicious, dark, silky butterscotch ever.  The addition of both lemon juice as well as lemon zest gives it just a hint of ‘zing’ and balances out the sweetness perfectly.

I do recommend that you let the pie cool completely once baked, otherwise the butterscotch won’t have time to set up.  We (the Professor) couldn’t wait and cut into the pie early (hence, the lack of a photo with just a single slice of pie).  And of course a dollop of good vanilla ice cream doesn’t hurt one bit either!

And did you know that January 23rd is National Pie Day?  An excellent excuse to make this – go ahead, live a little!

Gourmet Magazine, September 2009

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-1/2 pounds firm-ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears (about 5), peeled, each cut into 6 wedges and cored
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from the lemon you just zested)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Double recipe all-butter pastry dough (or take a cheat and use a good store-bought brand)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp warm water
1 Tbsp granulated sugar (I used Raw Sugar but if you don’t have any, regular is absolutely fine)

Put a baking sheet (cookie sheet or pizza stone if you have one) on middle rack of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, then whisk in brown sugar breaking up any lumps. Gently toss pears with brown sugar mixture, lemon juice, and vanilla and let stand 5 to 15 minutes to macerate fruit.

Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled); on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll into a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9·inch pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 13-inch round. Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with second (top) pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with some of egg wash, then cut 3 (1-inch-long) vents. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.

COOKS’ NOTE: Pie is best the day it is made but can be baked 1 day ahead.


  1. Pingback: GIVE THE PROFESSOR A COOKIE . . . | Smith Bites

  2. My Dad gifted me recently with a slew of pie-making supplies and all I’ve made so far has been apple. SO THIS is going to rock.

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