The early colonists made pies like this one, heaped with harvest pears, sweetened with natural sugar and maple syrup, and with a zesty spicy snap from ginger. We know now that ginger is an anti-inflammatory herb that offers healing for indigestion from over-indulgence, among other things. Healing benefits, autumn aromas and succulent fall tastes: Pear Pie with Maple and Ginger has them all.
Dough for one pie crust
7 cups cored and sliced ripe pears
1/3 cup Sucanat or other natural sweetener
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon (optional; use only if you like a very lemony pear pie)
1 tablespoon minced candied ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1. Roll out the dough on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper, using a floured rolling pin. Turn the paper upside down over a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan, center it, and peel back the paper. Tenderly tuck the pastry into the pan, crimping the edges prettily. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine pears, sweetener, maple syrup, tapioca, lemon juice, lemon zest (if you’re using it), and ginger. Toss well to mix and set aside. Preheat oven to 400F.
3. Pour filling into pie shell, gently smoothing it into place with your hands. Dot with butter. Place pie in center of oven (you might want to place it on some aluminum foil, in case of bubbling over) and bake 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375, rotate pie so back faces front, and continue baking another 30 to 35 minutes, until juices are bubbling.
4. Take pie out of oven and place on wire rack. Allow to cool 2 hours or more, as juices will thicken.
Serves 8 to 10.
Inspired by Pie, by Ken Haedrich (Harvard Common Press, 2004).