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pear, feijoa & ginger crostata

In autumn, baking, desserts, winter on 18 August, 2011 at 8:10 am

Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. Feijoa? In August? You’re right, this post has been sitting here for a wee while. 

But I’ve been wanting to post it anyway. I’ve been in a little bit of a seasonal rebellion. Feels like it was only yesterday that I was lamenting the end of summer and relishing the settling-down feeling of autumn. Feels like it went by in too quick a flash and suddenly all at once winter had set in, the shortest day had come and gone, and we were hurtling recklessly down a fast track into spring. The days were (still are!) getting longer, there were snowdrops and daffodils and lambs on the side of the road coming back from the mountain, the birds seemed to be chirping a bit more, I  smelled something akin to that distinct smell of thaw* in the air in the still, clear mornings.

It came to a head last weekend when I was in Auckland visiting friends and it was warm (warm enough for bare legs and no woolly coat! for a little while at least), springlike, magnolias flowering everywhere. And it was nice. But I thought, hang on. It’s still August. I’m not ready for spring yet. Spring is  full of new beginnings and everything young and tender and bursting with potential. And yes, it’s exciting, with changes afoot and everything moving forward and so on. But not just yet. Not for me, anyway.

So when it snowed on Monday (I was still in Auckland during the first snow on Sunday) and I couldn’t contain my excitement, maybe there was a bit more to it than just the novelty of seeing snowflakes outside my window. In Wellington. On The Terrace. (!!!) Maybe there was a little bit of relief in there too, a little bit of: slow down now, relax, it’s not spring yet.

And as much as I’ve been scrunching up my face at the hail, at the sleet, at having to take taxis home when the buses have stopped, this ridiculously wintry weather has been kind of a reprieve from the dizzying trajectory into spring. Spring is full of opportunity: I’m not there yet. Almost, but not just yet. I’m still holding on to winter, to stews and roasts and snow, to weekends spent with friends and homemade steak pies and mulled wine and hot chocolates, woolly blankets and daydreams. I’m a huge fan of spring and summer but I’m still grasping backwards, to a simpler time, cosy and pleasant and quiet: early winter, maybe even late autumn, when the whole hunkering-down business was still ahead of us and things wouldn’t be picking up speed for a while.

So that’s why I’m sharing this late-autumn pie. The time will soon come when I have to let go and embrace the new, the young, the fresh, to fill my pies with the very first strawberries, to scan supermarket shelves wildly for asparagus. But not just yet.

Until that time comes I’ll be happily making soups and stews and eating the last of the pears, hanging onto the gritty-sweet memories of last season’s fruit. Like feijoas. (Though the other night I did make a pear and tamarillo crumble which is a far more appropriate fruit combination for right now: I reckon it would work beautifully in this pie.)

*If you’ve ever lived in a place where everything (the ground, rivers, lakes, etc) freezes over in the winter you’ll know what I mean… that sort of raw, earthy, fresh dirt smell after months of smelling practically nothing outside. It’s invigorating.

PEAR, FEIJOA & GINGER CROSTATA (makes 2 smallish or 1 large pie)

For the crust:
(recipe adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book via this Serious Eats post)

140g flour*
1 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
110g butter, very cold & cut into little pieces
3-4 Tbsp ice cold water, as needed

Sift together the dry ingredients. Add the butter pieces and toss so that they’re coated in the flour mixture. Rub the butter into the flour (or use a pastry cutter or food processor) until the mixture reaches a pebbly consistency.

Sprinkle 3 tbsp of the cold water over the mixture, and using your hands, work the mixture into a dough. If it’s not sticking together enough, add a little more water (only a bit at a time); if it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour. Form into a ball. If you’re making 2 smaller pies, as I did here, divide the dough into 2 and roll into balls. Flatten them a bit, wrap in plastic wrap, stick in the fridge to cool for at least half an hour.

For the filling:

Chop up roughly 350g pears (about 1-2 smallish pears) and scoop out the flesh of 1-2 feijoas (you could easily use tamarillo, or rhubarb, or any pie-appropriate fruit, really). Place in a bowl, grate some fresh ginger over the top, sprinkle over a handful of sugar (I used brown sugar), mix it up and let it sit for a bit.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 350C.

Take the chilled pie dough out of the fridge and roll out onto a floured surface until it’s about 1/8 inch thick** and of a more or less circular shape. Trim any weird scraggly edges, but you don’t have to be too meticulous – this is a free-form pie, so a  little inconsistency is okay. (It adds character!)

Pile the fruit in the middle and fold over the outside edge, pinching a bit as you go. Dot the fruit with little torn-off bits of butter, brush the pastry with an egg wash of a beaten egg & a splash of milk, sprinkle demerara sugar over everything and stick in the oven for 25-30 minutes (if you are making one larger pie, you may need to have it in the oven for longer) until the fruit is cooked and the pastry’s nice and golden.

Let cool a little bit and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche or a bit of plain yoghurt. 

*I’ve made this with both wholemeal flour and various combinations of white and wholemeal. It works however you do it, though you may need to tweak the amount of butter and/or water a little bit.

**You don’t want it to be too thin – this pie doesn’t have the benefit of a pie dish to hold it all together, so you’ll want it to be sturdy enough to hold in the juices.

ps. this is my first contribution to the Sweet New Zealand monthly blogging event organised by Alessandra. Got it in just in the nick of time :)
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  1. i can’t believe its snowing everywhere over there !! crazy, this post reminds me how much i love spring and of a peach crostata i made last year, yummo ….

  2. I want to eat it now :) the pastry looks golden and the ginger is a great addition. And your right I should make the most of the end of winter, even though I really can’t wait for the beginning of spring :)

  3. I’ve always wanted to try making crostata, the filling looks so pretty peeking out, and the whole freeform pastry thing appeals. Damn you for making me crave feijoas again! But I know what you mean, I’m still wallowing happily in winter, and am not quite ready for asparagus.

  4. That was exactly my reaction, what..the…***…have I missed feijoas, you had me going for a minute. Looks yum, I love making crostata and they always look pretty with the filling peeking out.

  5. [...] Pear, Feijoa and Ginger Crostata. I’m sure you could vary the fruit until feijoas come back – aren’t the little [...]

  6. Yes probably I could use rhubarb or other fruit, but now after reading this I feel like fejioa!!!
    Fortunately I still got some in the freezer, i just use them for smoothies, but they should be ok for baking :-).

    Ciao
    Alessandra

    PS
    why don’t you enter your cake in Sweet NZ? nothing to be won, just a sweet get together of NZ blogs :-).
    Info here http://alessandrazecchini.blogspot.com/2011/07/calling-all-kiwi-bloggers-sweet-new.html

  7. Paula: the snow was nuts! I can’t believe it happened, either… it’s been a pretty sunny weekend so it feels so far away now. Yum, haven’t made this with peaches but have with apricots. Bring on summertime and stonefruit!

    Mairi: funny, when I wrote this I was so not ready for spring but the last couple days have been so lovely and sunny that I’m warming up to the idea ;)

    hungryandfrozen: hehe, sorry. After the asparagus and then berries and stonefruit, feijoas will be back… but this would work with anything!!

    peasepudding: I’ve missed feijoas too, feels like they were gone in a blink of an eye and I didn’t get to do as much as I would’ve liked with them. But there’s always next year!

    Alessandra: for you, yes! will update this post and submit it to Sweet NZ… stay tuned! (Also… feijoas in the freezer, you’ve been thinking ahead! Better than most of us, anyway… I’m a bit jealous ;) )

  8. Yum, that looks good. Perfect size for snacking too! I took a hit of feijoa cider at Beervana which was quite a surprise. A good way to keep up your Feijoa intake across the year!

  9. Hello ! We love your recipe and your food pictures, we would be glad if you could submit it to our site. Thanks :)

  10. My kind of dessert really. And with feijoa everything tastes wonderful !

  11. Domestic Executive: feijoa cider, that sounds delicious… perfect for this sunny afternoon! May have to go search for some :)

    Vanilla: agreed! Wish I had some now though…

  12. Ciao Mika, thank you for entering Sweet New Zealand :-). Feijoa in the freezer… first time I did it and so happy about it! When in season there are so much that I don’t know what to do anymore, and as soon as the season ends I want to eat them! Crazy ehh? Pity that I only have a small freezer! I posted about it here:

    http://alessandrazecchini.blogspot.com/2011/04/feijoa-and-lemon-zest-cordial.html

    ciao
    A.

  13. Completely identify with the not-ready-for-springtime-yet sentiment! I’m only just getting the hang of winter and now the daffodils are coming out! I just need a bit longer… not quite ready to let go of my woolly blanket, red wine, and pictionary set

  14. Alessandra: ooh yes your cordial looked delicious :)

    Christy: pictionary! now that is what I’ve been missing this winter. I’m starting to feel a little better about spring but I’m still looking around wildly like “where in hell did winter go?!!”

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