Have you seen the pears at the market lately? Gorgeous. This is a rustic tart, using Bosc or Bartlett pears (great cooking pears) that have been pre-baked with ginger, sugar, and butter, giving them a wonderful caramelized flavor in the tart. Their buttery sweetness offsets the crisp tartness of the whole cranberries. I got the idea from a pear crostata recipe in The Boston Globe. That recipe, which I made and is fabulous, uses pear halves and layers the pears and cranberries on top of frangipane. I did find the Globe’s recipe a bit too fussy, along with taking the better part of a day to make. So, this is my simpler version, still the same wonderful mix of flavors, but with a little less effort.
A note on the crust. In my opinion, a pie is just an excuse to eat a fantastic homemade butter crust. These days you can buy frozen flat crusts, but if you haven’t made a homemade crust, I strongly encourage you to try it. You can make dough rounds ahead of time and freeze them, making it convenient to roll-out whenever you want to make a pie.
You can either cut up the pears into cubes, or halve them and core them, and use pear halves. The halves will make a prettier presentation, but the cubes will be easier to prepare.
- 4 pounds (about 8) Bosc or Bartlett pears (ripe but still quite firm, NOT soft), peeled, cored, cubed into 1-inch pieces (or halved)
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, chopped
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (do not sub brown sugar, it will change the taste too much)
- 1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 pie crust recipe
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
1 Make pie dough from one recipe of a butter crust, or buy the kind of frozen pie crust that is folded in a box and lays out flat.
2 Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Toss together in the pan the cubed pears (or pear halves if using), ginger, and sugar, and spread out evenly in the pan. Dot the top with butter. Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the pears are tender when pierced with a fork, and starting to get brown and caramelized around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool.
3 Use a slotted spoon to lift the pears out of the roasting pan, and place in a large bowl. Stir in the cranberries and almond extract.
4 Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll-out the pie dough to a 13-inch diameter. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Mound the pear and cranberry filling in the middle of the dough round, leaving a 2 to 3 inch border. Fold up the edges over the fruit, pleating the crust around the edges, leaving most of the fruit exposed in the center. Chill for half an hour before baking.
5 Bake for 1 hour, or until the crust is nicely browned.
Cool on a rack for at least an hour before serving.