Pear and Pomegranate Caramel Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, chilled, divided
6 tablespoons cold water, divided
2 cups pomegranate juice
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 strips lemon zest (optional)
6 tablespoons cornstarch
4 pounds firm pears, such as d’anjou or Bartlett, slightly underripe, peeled and cored, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
To make the crust:
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the chilled cubed butter. Use your hands or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are slightly smaller than a pea and the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add 2 tablespoons of the water and gently stir the mixture together with your hands or a fork just until the mixture is evenly moist but not sticky. If the mixture is too dry, add more cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
Alternatively, in a food processor combine the flour and salt. Pulse to mix. Add the chilled cubed butter and pulse until the butter pieces are slightly smaller than a pea and the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse until the mixture is evenly moist but not sticky. If the mixture is too dry, add more cold water 1 tablespoon at a time.
Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and turn the dough onto it. Push the dough together to form a ball and wrap well in the plastic. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
To make the filling:
In a medium saucepan over medium-high, combine the pomegranate juice, brown sugar and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half and is very thick, about 20 to 30 minutes.
In a small glass whisk together the corn starch with the remaining 4 tablespoons of water. While whisking the pomegranate syrup, slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove the syrup from the heat, discard the lemon zest, and cool to room temperature.
Heat the oven to 400 F.
Lightly dust the counter with flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. Roll out one dough half to about 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer the dough to an 9-inch deep dish pie plate and press it gently into the plate. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the pears, cooled pomegranate mixture, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss well to combine. Transfer the mixture to the dough-lined pie plate, pressing the fruit down or mounding it as needed to fit.
With a pastry brush, brush the overhanging pie dough lightly with the whisked egg.
If needed, lightly dust the counter with flour. Roll the other dough half out to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Use cookie cutters or a paring knife to cut 2 or 3 small holes at the center.
Carefully place the rolled crust over the pie, centering the holes over the top center of the pie. Press together the overhanging dough at the sides to seal with the egg.
Trim the overhanging dough to about 1-inch all around the pie and fold the overhang under itself so that it rests on the lip of the pie plate. Decorate the pie edges as desired and lightly brush the entire top and edges with the remaining beaten egg.
Transfer the pie to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before serving.