Angelin Borsics is an associate editor at Clarkson Potter/Publishers and lives in Brooklyn. She enjoys feeding her husband and friends.
On Sunday, November 13th, SpaceCraft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hosted the 3rd Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit, which was also sponsored by Etsy, Brooklyn Brewery, Bags for the People, and Ioby. The rules of the bake-off were right up my alley: First the crust had to be homemade, and second, at least one ingredient has to be sourced within 200 miles of Brooklyn. Winners took home gift bags that also included a copy of Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts and In the Green Kitchen by Alice Waters.
$10 at the door got you three pie slices and a drink—but all the pie slices disappeared before I could get there! Rats!
Instead, I’ll settle for the recipe for Best Overall winner, which was a Pear Caramel Apple Praline Pie, made by Cayenne Douglass and Ruby McNeil, two NYC natives. The recipe title may be a mouthful, but the combination of praline and pie wins me over as a Southern gal. Why hadn’t I thought of that?
For those of you looking to shake up your Thanksgiving tradition and truly impress your guests try this over-the-top twist on an apple-pear pie:
Recipe for Pear Caramel Apple Praline Pie by Cayenne & Ruby
About 3 cups of flour
About 1 ½ cups of Crisco
A pinch of salt
A tablespoon of sugar (optional—Ruby likes less, Cayenne likes more)
Use a 9 inch pie pan.
It is important to touch the dough as little as possible while you work with it.
Put the flour in a large bowl, then add the Crisco and mix it in with a pastry cutter or a fork until it is in pieces like gravel. Then add the water, just a tablespoon or two at a time, and stir it with a fork until it pulls away from the side of the bowl and can be formed into a ball. Break the ball in half, roll each half on the counter to make it round again, then put the dough balls in a plastic bag or wrap them in wax paper and refrigerate them for a while, while you prepare your filling. If you are having difficulty rolling them out because the dough is flaking away from itself you need to add more water—still do so sparingly and make sure its ice water. It’s easy to keep adding more, but if you add too much it’s harder to fix.
When you’re ready to roll out the crust, take the dough from the refrigerator. Spread some flour over the counter, roll one of the dough balls in it so that it’s covered with flour, then begin rolling. To avoid tearing the crust, roll in one direction only with each stroke; don’t push the rolling pin back and forth. Roll the dough into as round a shape as possible.
When the bottom crust is rolled to the right size, lift one edge of it onto the rolling pin and roll it gently around the rolling pin to transfer it to the plate without tearing. Then you can unroll it onto the pie plate.
When you’ve filled the pie, do the same thing with the top crust. Then trim the edge, if necessary, and fold it under itself and pinch it together neatly. Mix an egg into a small bowl of milk and paint the surface so that the crust will brown nicely. Then cut a little design into the top crust to provide vents so the steam can escape while the pie cooks.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
2 cups peeled, thinly sliced pears (about 4)
2 cups peeled, thinly sliced apples (about 4)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, cut up
Praline Mixture and Topping:
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
18 caramels, unwrapped
5 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup chopped pecans
In large bowl, mix granulated sugar, 1/4 cup flour, the nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add pears, apples and lemon juice; toss to coat. Pour into crust-lined pie plate. Top with 2 tablespoons butter.
In small bowl, mix oats, brown sugar and 1 tablespoon flour. Cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit. At this point you should start to pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
In 1-quart saucepan, melt caramels with milk over low heat until smooth (make sure its low—to avoid burning the mixture); add the chopped pecans. Drizzle over praline mixture. Top with second crust and flute; cut slits in several places. If you like, brush top with milk or egg and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Place pie on middle oven rack; place sheet of foil on rack below pie in case of spillover. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 4 hours.
*Also, please note it can be very difficult to find caramels unless it’s right before Halloween. Some NYC deli’s have an unidentified brand the clear plastic wrap that you can buy individually at the counter—if you can’t find them there, Worthers’ does a caramel chew—which is actually what we used. I wouldn’t use the kind that had that cream swirl in the middle as it has kind of a malted taste to it and wouldn’t blend nicely with the other pie flavors.
Read more about the Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off on Etsy.