For the past few years, good friend and author Martha Moody (“Sharp and Dangerous Virtues,” “Best Friends,” and other novels) has been kind enough to include me and any family members in town in her family’s celebration of Sukkot–the Jewish holiday also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Ingathering.

Marti and her husband make it a weeklong, special gathering of friends and community. We pick a night to go and I usually bring a dessert. It’s so much fun to get to hang out with people we already know, and get to know new people. Each year, the conversation is engaging and enjoyable.

This year, I brought a Brandied Pear Pie. Yes, I know, Sukkot ended on Sept. 30 this year, but this pie recipe is too good not to share–and pears are still in season for October.

Ingredients:

  • Pie crust for 9-inch pie
  • Brandy as needed (or use apple cider or orange juice. Alcoholic content of brandy will bake off, leaving just the delicious flavor!)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried cherries or a mix of both)

For crumb topping:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar or brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

For filling:

  • 5 cups sliced, peeled pears
  • 2-3 tablespoons of brandy (or apple cider or orange juice)
  • 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, at room temperature

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Put raisins in a small bowl; add enough brandy to cover raisins. Allow to stand at room temperature until most of the liquid is absorbed and fruit is plump. Do not drain.
  3. Mix together ingredients for crumb topping with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse pebbles. Set aside.
  4. Prepare pears and sprinkle with brandy to prevent discoloring. Do not drain. In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add to pears, folding gently to blend.
  5. Add raisins (including any liquid) to pears.
  6. Put pear and raisin mixture into pie crust.
  7. Dot with butter.
  8. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes.
  10. Remove foil from pie; cover with crumb topping.
  11. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F.
  12. Bake pie another 15-20 minutes until topping is crisp and golden brown.
  13. Cool pie on wire rack.
  14. Serve after cooled to room temperature. It’s great as is, or add a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!
  15. Enjoy!

Note: this is actually a picture of a French apple pie I made, because I forgot to take a picture of my brandied pear pie! But though the taste is different, it looks pretty much like this.