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Cranberry & Pear Crumble

Anjou and Bartlett pears are the best for baking because they remain firm and smooth when cooked. When choosing pears for baking, select those that are firm but not rock hard, have a good fragrance, and are smooth and unblemished with stems still attached. Autumn is the best season for Anjou and Bartlett pears.

Ingredients:

  • For the topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

For the filling:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 6 firm but ripe Anjou pears, peeled, halved, cored and diced (about 6 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • Vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream for serving

Directions:

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease a 12-inch oval or 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking dish with a 2-quart capacity.

To make the topping, in a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is crumbly. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar, salt and cornstarch. In a large bowl, combine the pears and cranberries. Sprinkle with the sugar mixture and toss to distribute evenly. Spoon the fruit mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake the crumble until the topping is crisp and golden brown and the fruit filling bubbles slowly around the edges, 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 8.

Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, Edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 2009).