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Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie

January 24, 2011

I love that I have a roommate who loves pie as much as I do.  It was wonderfully serendipitous that National Pie Day coincided with our Sunday roommate dinner night. And that we’d already invited a couple friends over. What better reason to bake a pie? Pie is best when shared, after all!

As the pie took it’s time baking to golden, juicy perfection and the aromas filled our small apartment, my impatient roommate couldn’t stop asking “Is the pie done?” at least five times. I could barely stand the wait myself, but I know these things can’t be rushed, and no timer can tell you exactly when a pie is ready. I waited for the tell-tale sign: the sizzle of bubbling juices dripping onto the baking sheet. Then, the torturous sight of the perfect pie perched on the stove top and the agonizing delay for it to cool. We may have rushed that part a bit, but at least we had ice cream to sooth any burnt tongues.

It should come as absolutely no surprise to you that upon learning about National Pie Day I immediately started flipping through my cookbooks for the perfect recipe. I needed something fit for fall, something unique and exotic, something scrumptious. The title of this pie may as well have been in neon it stood out so brightly from the others. I’ve had a bottle of Chinese Five-Spice powder on my spice rack (which, by the way, underwent a recent expansion due to overflow) and have been waiting to use it in a dessert. Though often used as a spice rub for meats or as an exotic addition to a savory sauce, the flavors of five-spice lend perfectly to sweet applications. The licorice-like aroma of star anise and fennel, the familiar warmth of cinnamon and cloves, mixed with the thrill of sichuan pepper. Combined with the flavors of sweet, floral pears and tart apples, this would be anything but ordinary. My taste buds could hardly stand the anticipation.

Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie

adapted slightly from Pie by Ken Haedrich


Double Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold, small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup ice cold water


  • 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 3 large ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Prepare the crust. Combine dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter cubed butter and shortening into the bowl and pulse to pea-sized pieces. Add the vinegar and 1/3 cup water and pulse until the dough starts to form a ball. Add more water if needed. Divide the dough into two discs, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour or more.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the apples, pears, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, remove one of your discs of pie dough and roll out on a floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Carefully place in a 9-inch pie pan and trim the overhang to about 1/2 inch. Place and the fridge while you finish the filling.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, five-spice powder, and salt. Add to the fruit and toss to coat completely. Pour into the chilled pie shell.
  5. Roll out the second disc of dough, wet the rim of the bottom shell to help it stick, and place the dough over the top. Trim the edges and crimp with your fingertips or a fork. Cut a few vents in the top shell.
  6. Place on a baking sheet to catch any drippings and bake for about 1 hour. Tent the top loosely with foil if it starts to get too dark. The pie is done when the fruit is tender and the juices are bubbling (poke into one of the vents to check). Let cool at least 10 minutes before eating (though I’d recommend 30 minutes if you can stand it).

These are some happy faces:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Meghan Wicks permalink
    January 26, 2011 8:50 pm

    I always burn my tongue, because I am just too impatient to wait for the cooling process. I think apple pie is my favorite and I would love to try it with pears too!

  2. January 29, 2011 7:49 am

    So glad I got to try this treat. Amazing flavors and pears and apples go so well. Perfect crusty too.

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