When it comes to any sort of food trend de jour, the likelihood that I'll at least temporarily buy in is pretty high. I scoured the city of New Orleans for cronut knock offs earlier this month, trying one mildly successful flavor (double chocolate) and a guava coconut version that really missed the mark. I ate what seems like a thousand buttercream-frosted cupcakes when they were in their Sex and the City-era prime, downed delicate macarons with the best of them, and enjoyed my fair share of cereal-themed sweets at all hours of the day. (To be fair, I never jumped on the Pinkberry and Pinkberry knock-off bandwagon, but only because I'm still not 100% convinced that it is real food.)
One trend I've never been able to get behind is when dessert are marketed as "rustic." Since we're still riding the wave of farm-to-everywhere madness, it seems pastry chefs all over are trying to create end-of-meal delights that evoke a sense of homeyness, or maybe the image of a cowboy cooking up a blackberry cobbler on the range. At the end of the day, though, rustic is just a gussied up way of saying timeless—the desserts that are so simple and delicious that they are able to transcend generations and don't require any bells and whistles to be delicious treats. This Pear Sour Cream Pie is a mouthwateringly humble dessert with a cornmeal crust that some might want to call rustic, but I'll just call classic.
It might not seem important, but the kind of cornmeal that is used in the pie crust can really make or break the texture. My go-to cornmeal is always Bob's Red Mill, which has just the right grain size to make the crust resemble a sweetened piece of cornbread. However, if Bob's is not available in your area, King Arthur is a fine substitute. Looking for a way to make the pie a little bit edgier? Use a blue cornmeal for a bit of a Southwestern flourish.
Depending on the season and your location, the type of pears available to you will vary. My favorite pears for baking are bosc pears, which have their signature shade of brown and long, slender necks. Bartlett pears are also a fine substitute, but tend to have a firmer texture and tangier taste than their bosc counterpart. Either way, ensuring the pears are ripe before baking with them is imperative. When pears come straight from the store this means allowing them to ripen for an additional 2-3 days before use.
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About the author: Sarah Baird is a writer, editor, and petit four aficionado living in New Orleans, Louisiana. She likes planning elaborate dinner parties surrounded by her collection of dwarf citrus trees. You can read her latest musings and about her various misadventures on her website: hellosarahbaird.com or follow her on Twitter: @scbaird.