I won’t lie–when I lived in Minneapolis, I felt a pang for the summery days I would spend by the lake each time winter would set in. One redeeming aspect of December, though, was the sudden appearance of fresh Asian Pears at the grocery store. A few years ago, I planned this pie for months leading up to Christmas. I admit it’s extra. But, where it asks more from you, it also gives back in salty-sweet flavor. You will find yourself not minding the work so much once you get a bite of crumbly white cheddar-walnut crust beneath silky, spiced fruit beneath crumbly bacon streusel. 10/10, can confirm–Santa is going to love it.
Apple-Asian Pear Pie with White Cheddar Crust and Bacon Streusel
Makes 1 9-inch pie
2 slices applewood smoked bacon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup white cheddar, finely grated
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp bacon fat, at room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup white cheddar, finely grated
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3-4 tbsp cold water
1 Asian Pear, peeled and sliced thinly
4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp corn starch
Streusel: In a saucepan on medium heat, cook the bacon until brown and crisp, reserving the bacon fat in a separate bowl. Refrigerate the bacon fat until it solidifies, about 10 minutes. Chop the cooked bacon. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, bacon, oats, white cheddar, walnuts, and sugar. In a medium bowl, beat together bacon fat and butter. Mix in the dry ingredients, mixing until crumbly and moist. Set aside.
Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, walnuts, cheddar, sugar, and salt. Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingers until combined (it will be a bit crumbly, and that’s okay). Pour in water one tablespoon at a time, folding it in with your hands, until the dough holds together when squeezed with your fingers. Roll the dough into a ball or disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to an hour before use. When ready to proceed, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch round on a floured surface. Carefully transfer the dough to the pie dish. Trim any overhang and set aside to prepare the filling.
Filling: In a large bowl, add asian pear, apples, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, and corn starch. Stir to combine, then gently pour into the prepared crust. Evenly sprinkle with Bacon Streusel. Bake for 50 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil as necessary, should the streusel begin to brown too much. Let cool completely before serving.