serves six

The Pie Shell

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 sticks (7 oz.) of chilled butter
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) chilled shortening
2/3 cup chilled liquid (2 egg yolks plus ice water) - droplets more if needed. Chill several hours.

Lining the mold

Butter a 9-inch by 2 inch cake pan or the inside of an expandable ring set on a buttered baking sheet. Line with the chilled dough and make a fluted rim all around. Prick the inside bottom with the tines of a fork and line with buttered foil; fill with dried beans or rice. Reserve dough scraps.

Pre-baking the shell

Refrigerate the shell while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake shell on the lower third level for 5 minutes. Look carefully at dough all around inside edges and push up with back of a spoon if it is sinking down at any point. (Repeat in 3 minutes, just to be sure.) Continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes. Raise up foil and check bottom of dough; if still moist and raw, continue baking. When bottom is set, remove foil and beans and bake a few minutes more. Then remove and let cool 10 minutes. To unmold, set a smaller pan inside the first and gently reverse the two; then, very carefully, set the shell hollow-side on a lightly buttered baking sheet.

The custard

Blend 2 tablespoons each of flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of pear-poaching liquid (see recipe). Beat in 2 "large eggs, 1/3 cup heavy cream or sour cream (beat first if liquefied) and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Baking the dessert. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Surround the shell with a double-thickness foil strip and pin closely in place. Patch any breaks or cracks in shell with reserved raw dough. Stand 6 poached pears (recipe follows) in the shell and pour the custard around them.

Place at once in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until a trussing needle plunged into the center comes out almost clean. Do not overcook - custard should remain tender.

While custard bakes, boil down 1 cup of fruit poaching liquid with 1/2 cup sieved apricot jam until last drops to fall from spoon are sticky. (Reheat to liquefy before using.)

When custard is done, remove and let cool 20 minutes. If foil collar has loosened, tighten it to prevent shell from spreading out. Gently slide the dessert onto a serving dish and spoon the glaze over pears and custard. Serve it either warm or cold.


Apples poached in syrup are delicious done this way, as are some canned fruits, first given a preliminary warming in their juices flavored with vanilla and/or rum or bourbon.

Pears poached in syrup

For 6 ripe, firm pears, place the strained juice of 1 lemon and the zest (yellow part of peel) in a roomy saucepan, add 2 cups of simmering water and stir in 1 1/2 cups water; when sugar is dissolved, stir in 2 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract. Peel the pears, leaving stems in place and shaving a bit off the bottom so they will stand up straight; place each, as peeled, in the syrup. Cover loosely and simmer (barely) for 8 to 10 minutes, until just tender. Uncover and let stand 20 minutes in the syrup (or longer) before draining.