It’s fall. Not just the beginning, leaves are turning, crispy apple, time to get another blanket fall. Fall as in warm scarfs, the first snow has already fallen, Thanksgiving is almost here fall. Some of us are already mourning the summer’s bountiful gifts and getting used to turning on the oven every other day to cook. The fruit and produce sections of the grocery are decidedly muted with the autumn colors of deep red, and green and orange. Apples and pears, hard-shelled squash and potatoes abound, calling out for roasting. And you know how I feel about roasting. Happy faces all around! All these lovely things to chop and season and stuff into hot ovens, making your whole house smell delicious and filling your belly with soft warmth. Late fall has always been a particularly lovely time, a celebratory time. The harvest is in, the cupboards are filled, and we start to gather and settle ourselves. I seem to be home more now, and thoughts of the coming holidays and gathering of friends and family are occupying my thoughts. While I’m curled on the sofa, planning and dreaming, a bowl of this pear crisp, warm and fragrant is a fabulous thing to be holding. Pears are at their best right now, and this crisp shows their creamy, melting side off. If you make this once, I’m sure you’ll make it again. I have pears on the counter again, waiting their turn.
This recipe makes roughly four 1/2 cup servings. I put mine in individual ramikens, cause I had them. It would be just as lovely in your favorite baking dish, served in big spoonfuls. I also would seriously consider an ice cream or softly whipped cream accompaniment. It’s really good on its own, but a sweet cream or ginger ice cream would put this way over the top.
For the filling:
2 lbs of ripe pears (leave them on the counter a few days, the Bartlett’s will turn from green to yellow), peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (your call if you like more or less)
1/4 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of AP flour
For the topping:
Scant ¾ cup granulated sugar (about 4 to 4 ½ ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, beaten well
3 tablespoons of softened butter
1 to 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds
Preheat your oven to 375, and make sure you have a rack in the center of the oven. Mix together the sugar and spices for the filling, then gently fold in the pears. Put them into the baking vessel of your choice. Mix together the dry ingredients for the topping, then with a fork stir in the egg, and then add the butter. Mix until the topping looks well incorporated, it shouldn’t have clumps of wetness but should have a sandy texture yet hold together if you smush it together with your hands. Using your hands, sprinkle the topping over the pears, smushing some together to make clumps and cover the whole top. Sprinkle almonds over the topping.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until deeply brown and bubbly.
Let cool and enjoy! The topping is crisp and crunchy, the filling is sweet, creamy and unmistakably pear. Oh, and again, ice cream. Ginger ice cream on this would be killer. That’s what I’m doing next time this is made.
Note: When chopping the pears, put the chopped pieces in acidulated water until almost ready to use. Then dry the pear pieces on paper towelling. I always peel them but if you don’t feel that’s necessary, feel free to leave the skin on. Also, any kind of pear will do, I use Bartlett because I’m familiar with the ripening process for them. The little seckal variety would be wonderful, just quartered.