This is a simple recipe. If you have ripe pears and want to have a delicious pear custard cake in less than an hour, just scroll down for the recipe. Otherwise, I’m going to tell you about the complicated pie that inspired this easy recipe.
For about 20 years, I have made a Pear Sambuca Pie every year for Thanksgiving…. well almost every year. I got the recipe from The Little Pie Company Cookbook, which I bought in the 90’s from their shop in Hell’s Kitchen (in Manhattan). I was hoping the book would have the recipe for their sour cream apple pie, which I was obsessed with. It did not. You can find my recipe for a gluten-free version of their sour cream apple pie here. Their cookbook has many other excellent recipes though, and when I had to give up gluten they were the first pies I figured out how to make gluten free (follow these links to find those GF recipes- Apple Rum Raisin Pie, Cranberry Raisin Pie and Pear Sambuca Pie.)
The Pear Sambuca Pie is the one I am most dedicated too. It has a sugar, lemon Sambuca drizzle on top. There is something about the addition of lemon and Sambuca to pears that makes them taste more deliciously pear. It’s actually not a great choice for a holiday meal, because pears are perfectly ripe for about 3 seconds. I usually buy under ripe pears a week before, and carefully monitor their ripening in paper bags each day to have them perfectly ripe by Thanksgiving morning. Some years I run out to our local green grocer, which specializes in selling fruit and veg that will be rotten in an hour for very cheap, to buy last minute pears. Some years, I fail and my friends voice their disappointment that there is no Pear Sambuca Pie… well my friend Claudia in particular. Really, I do whatever it takes to make sure I can feed this pie to Claudia, because I am so thankful for her friendship that it feels important to deliver this pie that makes her happy once a year for Thanksgiving.
Twice this fall I have received lovely pears from my farm share and both times the pears have ripened all at once and I have said to myself “Oh I could make Pear Sambuca Pie!” But I did not make Pear Sambuca Pie. Other than making bread (like every other food obsessed person) I have not been doing a ton of fancy baking during the pandemic. For me, baking complex pies and cakes have gone the way of wearing uncomfortable bras and shoes and pants. I will probably do all of those things again once I’m really back to hosting events and working with other people, but I’m not doing any of those things just for my own entertainment. I’m not going to make Pear Sambuca Pie just for me and my husband.
Instead, I have started making this Pear Sambuca Clafouti. The pear, lemon Sambuca combo works just as well in a baked custard as it does in a pie and it can be done in less than an hour. You can double this recipe if you have lots of pears, just know that you will need another 10 minutes of baking time.
- 1 Tablespoons butter
- 1 pound ripe pears (about 3) peeled, cored and sliced into 8 wedges
- 2 Tablespoons Sambuca (divided)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2Tb almond flour
- 2Tb tapioca starch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (coconut milk works just as well)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a pie dish or small casserole
- Combine the pears, 1 Tablespoon of Sambuca, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large bowl.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pear mixture and cook for about 5 minutes or until the juices thicken just a bit. Do not overcook the pears. When they are starting to soften around the edges thats enough!
- In the same large bowl add the sugar, eggs, almond flour, tapioca starch, salt, heavy cream and remaining Tablespoon of Sambuca
- Pour the custard into the prepared pie dish and spoon the fruit and all the juices on top.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. If you have doubled the recipe give it another 10 minutes in the oven. Serve warm, room temp or cold.