International Pizza Pie Incident – Poached Pear Pizza Pie

April 18, 2010 · 51 comments

After the success of our the Gnocchi Party organised by Penny of jeroxie (addictive & consuming) we decided to keep our party hats on and Lambrusco (the party wine, don’t you know) flowing and throw regular International ____ Incident parties. We already have parties lined up for dumplings, noodles and tacos, though I’m not sure if spaghetti is going to get a run (sorry Axl).

First up though, is the International Pizza Pie Incident!

“Pizza Pie” is one of those American terms that confused me when I was growing up. I was also confused about:

  • meatloaf (a loaf of meat? Everyone in books was always whinging when their “Mom” served them meatloaf so I figured it must be as crap as it sounds),
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (jelly in a sandwich?! Surely that’s just asking for trouble.. noone wants a lap full of jelly! – if you’re not aware, jelly in Australia is what is referred to as jello in the US – we would call it a peanut butter and jam sandwich, and even then you have to admit it’s kind of a weird combination, though not as messy as a peanut butter and jelly jelly sandwich),
  • all the different types of “candy” that Claudia in the Baby-sitters Club had stashed around her room (Ring Dings? Tootsie Pops? Ding Dongs? Sounds like a whole pile o’ euphemisms if you ask me),
  • and I always got a little alarmed when someone got a new haircut and ended up with “bangs”.

Since growing beyond my Baby-sitters Club reading years, I have since discovered that “pizza pie” is just a longer, alliterated way of saying “pizza”, though there are those crazy pie-like Chicago style deep dish pizzas that should come with a side order of defibrillator lubricant.

What are the differences between a pizza and a pie? I think the venn diagram has a reasonable area of intersection, particularly when you head into dessert pizza territory. I make savoury pizzas pretty often, so I swapped my party hat for a safari one and ventured into the land of dessert pizzas.

I decided to go with a shortcrust pastry for the base, which takes us into Pie Town, but I took a few steps back into Pizza City by doing a stuffed crust. With chocolate. I was a little nervous about this working out, but I figured that if it didn’t then I’d just be left with some sort of chocolaty pastry mess which would not necessarily be a bad thing.

I wanted some sort of red pizza-like sauce to go atop the pizza pie, and I’ve been enjoying the delicious pears that have come into season recently, so these two thoughts lead me to the decision of poaching and stuffing pears, reducing the poaching liquid to make the red sauce and using the pears as the pizza pie topping. If I was going to this effort, I figured I may as well make a couple of different ice creams to go with the pizza pie, which is why I made the somewhat strange varieties of poppy seed and ginger ice creams, to complement the mulled wine and spiced stuffing flavours.

I can recommend all the components of this dish – it was a beautifully short, just-sweet-enough pastry; I think I’m going to be trying to stuff chocolate in everything I bake from now on; the poached and stuffed pears are truly delicious, you really need to try them at least once during pear season; and I was pretty chuffed with the ice creams working out so well too.

Happy birthday to you Penny! I only wish I had thought to stick a sparkler in one of the pizza pie slices, but I did at least have a glass of wine in your honour. Thanks for again for being a culinary creativity catalyst. So, what did everyone else make?

Pie Dough
taken from the Apple Pie recipe in August 2004 issue of delicious

1 3/4 cups (260g) plain flour
1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
185g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
1 egg
1 Tb chilled water

(Note: I actually just made it in my food processor, but here is the recipe as given in the magazine)
1. Sift flours and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add butter and rub lightly into flour with your fingertips. Lift mixture high above the bowl as you rub, to incorporate air into the pastry and make it lighter. Continue until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir through sugar.
3. Lightly beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon chilled water, then drizzle over flour mixture. Start to bring the dough together by cutting the liquid into the dough with a blunt knife, then form into a smooth ball with your hands, adding a little more water if necessary.
4. Divide dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes (I chilled mine overnight).

Chocolate Stuffed Crust Pizza Pie Base

Pie Crust, recipe above
dark chocolate

1. If you chilled your pastry longer than 30 minutes, take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes or so before you want to roll it to make your rolling job a bit easier. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
2. People say you don’t need to grease your pie pan as the butter from the pastry will stop it from sticking, but I don’t have one with a removable base and I’m a little paranoid about sticking so I lined the base with baking paper and lightly greased the sides. I used a 26cm pie pan.
3. On a lightly floured surface (I used my fabulous deadly marble board) roll the pastry out to about 5mm thick (mine ended up thicker than this) and large enough to cover the base and sides of your pie pan.Try not to stretch the pastry as you roll it  as if you stretch it, you will likely have shrinkage when it bakes. You also don’t want to use too much flour when rolling, as this may dry out your pastry – a way around this problem is to roll the pastry between two pieces of non-stick baking paper.
4. Roll the pastry over your rolling pin, then unroll it over your pie pan. Ease the pastry gently into the pan, pressing it into the corners while trying not to stretch it. Trim the overhanging bits with a sharp knife, or roll your rolling pin over the sides to remove these bits if you have a sharp edged pie pan.
5. Roll the leftover dough out into long skinny pieces, to use to cover the chocolate stuffing.

6. Place slices of chocolate around the edge of the pastry, then cover with leftover pastry, trying not to leave any air bubbles between, or gaps in the pastry.
7. Place pie pan on a baking tray. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Line the pastry case with baking paper or foil and then fill with baking weights, dried beans or rice.
8. Bake in preheated oven for around 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 190 degrees C, remove weights and paper, and bake shell for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan, or turn it out if you prefer.
9. The pastry is now ready to be transformed into a Poached Pear Pizza Pie.

Mulled Wine Pears with Spiced Stuffing
(from New Vegetarian by Celia Brooks Brown)
I doubled this recipe for the purposes of pizza pie!

Mulled Pears
4 firm ripe pears
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
250 mL freshly squeezed orange juice
500 mL red wine
125 g sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Spiced Stuffing
75 g hazelnuts
1 Tb soft brown sugar
2 Tb currants or sultanas
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
A large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 Tb orange flower water (I usually use about half this)
A large pinch of sea salt

1. Peel the pears, leaving the stems intact. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each one, so they stand upright, and scoop out the cores with a teaspoon.
2. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into a large saucepan, then add the pod and the orange juice, red wine, sugar, lemon zest, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Gently lower the pears on their side into the pan and simmer, turning frequently in the poaching liquid, for 30 minutes or until tender (depending on ripeness).
4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set aside to cool.
5. Strain the liquid and return to the pan. Heat until reduced and syrupy. Let cool.

Your house should now smell like Christmas.

Doing the circular pear conga round the plate

Spiced Stuffing
1. Roast the hazelnuts in a preheated oven at 200 C for 5 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool. Put in food processor, whizz until ground, then add the remaining ingredients (only add enough orange blossom water to hold it together… I find 1 1/2 Tb is too much) and pulse until mixed.

2. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out poached pears and spread a thin layer on the bottom of each one (this will help the pears stand upright when you put them on the plates).

3. Serve with the syrup poured over and a dollop of creme fraiche, or turn them into a pizza pie! Woo!

Poached Pear Pizza Pie with Chocolate Stuffed Crust

1 chocolate stuffed crust pizza pie base
8 mulled wine pears with spiced stuffing
Reduced mulled wine syrup from the pear poaching

1. With a sharp knife, slice the pie base into 8 even pieces.
2. Slice each pear crossways into four or five even slices.
3. Arrange pie base pieces onto plates, pour over some syrup then arrange pear slices on top. Add a little more syrup and serve with ice cream such as poppy seed or ginger.