I got a new cookbook a couple of months ago, Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson, and this recipe was one of the first ones to grab my attention during a first time glance-through. Something about a thin, high crust housing lots of yummy softened fruit sounded really appealing. Not to mention, the crumb topping looked pretty darn good, too. We got it in our heads over here at Full Fork Ahead that this could make a pretty darn good Thanksgiving dessert, and tada! We were right. In fact, I’m probably going to make one when we go over to my mom’s or my MIL’s house. If I can get the time. I’ll find the time. I must have the time!
Behold, the sacrifices stars of our pie! The particulars: honeycrisp apples, comice and bartlett pears and cranberries. Not shown: dried figs. Sorry, but dried figs, no matter how tasty the package says they are, are pretty ugly. Yes, we discriminated against the figs. You’ll see them later anyway.
Ummm…., look, this was our first attempt at a homemade pie crust. I’ll just be up front and say we weren’t impressed. After looking at some other pie crust recipes, I think maybe a different kind of fat additive would’ve worked better. This one was dry and crackly before we even baked it. It was difficult to roll out and definitely NOT big enough for a 10-inch springform pan. But geeze, there’s more than enough fruit for a 10-inch pie, here, so I’m not getting this piecrust. Instead of rec’ing the crust recipe in the book, I suggest using either a ready-made Pillsbury crust (or two, explained below), or maybe try this one rec’d by Pioneer Woman. I haven’t tried it yet, but I will be next time. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything she recommends, I just have this tingly, tasty feeling about it, m’kay?
You can see how you need enough piecrust to go almost all the way to the top of the springform pan. Confession: we ended up grabbing a pre-made Pillsbury crust, unrolled it and pressed pieces into the homemade crust to make up for what it lacked. I like to call this Frankensteining my pie crust. After you’ve mixed up the sliced fruit, sugar and cornstarch, just fill ‘er up, folks!
The colors in this one are so purty. Purty enough to chomp on. And look, there’s those figs.
You know, I guess we forgot to take pictures of us making the walnut crumb topping! Pfffftttt, oh well. If you’ve seen one crumb or streusel topping in the making, you’ve seen them all. What I remember as being important is that it did seem very wet or buttery, and all it took was stirring the topping back to life again after putting it in the fridge to await orders. Just kind of fluff it up with a fork before sprinkling onto the pie.
After it’s baked and emerges from the pan, you’ve got this fortress of fruit. It’s awesome. (I told sis: Oh, it looks great! She said: Yeah, you can’t tell we pieced the crust together; it looks like it cracked on it’s own! Me: Bwahahahaha!)
It’s begging you to, well, take it down and conquer its subjects. Get to it!
Ah sweet, sweet victory. But not too sweet. Just right.
Deep-Dish Winter Fruit Pie with Walnut Crumb
Copywrited, Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson
Instead of rec’ing the pastry recipe in the cookbook (Sorry, authors! We followed directions – swear.), I recommend, seriously recommend, just saving some time and buying a box of Pillsbury ready-made, uncooked crusts. You might need to Frankenstein a little of crust #2 onto the first one, if one isn’t enough to go all the way to the top of your springform pan. More explanation below. Or, if you want to make one from scratch, why not try this one, recommended by The Pioneer Woman? Again, be aware you might need more than one pie pastry for this as it’s a deep-dish recipe.
Walnut Crumb Topping
- 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup packed (5 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (5 1/2 ounces) dried figs
- 4 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2 inch thick (12 ounces prepped)
- 4 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2 inch thick (1 1/4 pounds prepped)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Lightly butter the sides and bottom of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Either make the piecrust linked to above, your own or grab that Pillsbury box. Ain’t no shame! Whichever you do, when the piecrust is ready to roll out (the book recommended rolling out to a 14-inch disk at least) or unroll, place it in the pan, making sure to gently press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Your crust needs to come pretty much to the top of the sides. If you need to, you can do what we did and “Frankenstein” your crust. Ours did not reach the top, so we unrolled a Pillsbury crust and pressed pieces of it into the original crust where there were big gaps between the crust and the top of the pan. This ended up working just fine for us. Trim off any dough that hangs over the edges of the pan. Chill for an additional 30 minutes while you prepare the crumb topping and the fruit filling.
To make the walnut crumb topping, mix the flour, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Stir in the butter, then work it in with your hands until the texture of crumbs. We found that the more we worked it, the more it seemed to just want to pack down into a big lump. Put the topping in the refrigerator while you make the fruit filling. Don’t worry, just fluff it all up with a fork when you need to use it, carefully so you don’t end up flinging it all out of the bowl – speaking from experience.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
To make the fruit filling, remove the stem from each fig (ours didn’t have any, yay), then boil the figs in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Slice each fig into 4 to 5 pieces, put them in a large bowl, and add the apples, pears, and cranberries. Separately, mix the sugar and cornstarch together, then add to the fruit and gently toss until evenly coated.
Transfer the filling to the pie shell and top with the walnut crumb. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the crumb is golden, the fruit juices are bubbling thickly around the edges, and the fruit is tender when pierced with a wooden skewer. If the crumb is getting too dark, cover it with foil (we had to do this about fifteen minutes prior to it being done).
Let the pie cool for a good while. We cut into ours about an hour or so after taking it from the oven, and it really could have used longer to cool down. The middle was stubborn (and still pretty hot) and wanted to fall apart on us as we removed slices, so I recommend a good hour and a half to two hours to cool own. Then either serve or cover loosely with some foil until ready to eat. Or if you’re serving this at a nice dinner like Thanksgiving, proudly display it on a cake plate. It’ll be fine out for a few hours and tastes good at room temperature anyway. To store, you can leave this one on the counter, covered well, for a couple of days.
Since you’re using pears in this one keep in mind that they might need some time to ripen after buying them from the store. I confess (We seem to confess many a cooking sin here, don’t we?) that ours may have been a little under-ripened, but they ended up doing well enough for the pie. Still, you don’t want to have to use a rock hard pear if you don’t need to.
Again, that piecrust – maybe you have a family recipe that’s tried and true. Use it! I have to admit, I’ll be using a ready-made crust or two out of the box. Hey, it’s for Thanksgiving and if we can save some time, might as well, right? I’ll save to piecrust experimenting for days when I have more time. Plus, really, the Pillsbury crusts taste great!
The figs: I wasn’t sure what to expect from the figs. You know, I think they might be an acquired taste. I wasn’t as thrilled with them as the other fruit, I admit. I think maybe one reason was that even cut up as they were, they were still kind of chunky. Next time I’m going to cut them into smaller pieces. Biting into the big chunks was part of my problem, I think. Too much fig at one time. If you don’t like figs, I recommend using either one more pear or apple instead, ,maybe even a few more cranberries. Those were delicious!
The apples: The recipe calls for 4 small apples, but the day I went, much of the fruit looked pretty poor. I ended up buying to very large Honeycrisp apples, about 3-4 inches in diameter) and those were plenty.