Yay! It’s one of our favourite weeks of the year – Totoro Week! I still remember the first year you hosted it, I was making a big fuss at home (poor Howard couldn’t stop hearing me squee with delight) and showing everyone the photos online: You have to see this! Then again, it happens year round whenever I see Totoro toast, eggs, bento boxes, buns, pancakes, and tarts. I really do love how Totoro translates into food so well.
This year I was looking back on your posts to see what the exact week would be when you sent us a little reminder. I quickly told Howard to purchase me a Totoro cookie cutter using his PayPal account and proceeded to bug him for two weeks: Has it shipped? Is it here yet? Will it arrive by Friday?
Alas, it did not arrive last Friday so I am without Totoro cookies. I did try making your Totoro-in-a-hole with a pairing knife. But it’s just not the same.
My next attempt were Totoro Pineapple Buns or bo lo bao. But I totally screwed up the cookie topping. Using measuring cups versus a scale makes such a big difference. I knew there was too much flour . . . but I’ll try them again as the buns were deliciously fluffy.
So my last minute attempt are these Totoro Pies. I had purchased a box of large pears against Howard’s advice and still haven’t made any pear tarts or cakes with them yet. So this seemed like the perfect opportunity to pair my determination to create something for Totoro week.
For three 4″ double-crust pies and one 8″ pie shell
500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
4 ml (3/4 teaspoons) salt
250 ml (1 cup) all-vegetable shortening
30ml (2 tablespoons) cold water
15 ml (1 tablespoon) white vinegar
- Place the flour, salt, and shortening in a food processor and pulse until the flour is course and resembles a coarse crumb.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water, and vinegar. Pour into the flour mixture and pulse until the dough is combined.
- Divide the dough in half and flatten both into a disc. Cover the two discs of dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour (or overnight).
Makes enough for three 4″ double-crust pies and one 8″ pie shell
5 Bosc pears
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Peel and dice the pears into small chunks, place in mixing bowl.
- Add in the sugar, salt, flour, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Mix well with the pear.
Pear Pie Assembly
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
- Take out one of the pie dough discs out of the fridge and roll out so that it’s one inch bigger than your pie tin. Carefully transfer the dough into the pie tins, pat the dough down to fit along the edges, and trim off any excess dough. When making multiple pies, keep the ones that are done in the fridge to keep the dough cold at all times.
- Prick the base of the pie dough with a fork.
- Scoop in the pear filling until it reaches the top.
- Place tiny bits of butter on top of the pear filling.
- Take out the second pie dough disc from the fridge.
- For Catbus pie: roll out the dough and use a large cookie cutter to trim the dough for the top (if you’re making mini pies). Knead the dough scraps together and roll out flat again and use cookie cutters or a knife to cut out the eyes, mouth, and nose.
- For Soot spirit pie: roll out the dough and use a knife to cut out long strips. Trim to about an inch long and start laying them on top of the pear filling. Continue until the entire top is covered. Take the remaining dough scraps and roll it together again and use a cookie cutter to create the eyes.
- For Totoro pie: roll out the dough and use a large circle cookie cutter that will cover the top of your pie. Trim out the circle. Then about halfway on the circle, use that same cookie cutter to divide it into two pieces. Place the top half over the pie filling. Using a knife, cut out upside down V-shapes on the bottom half. Remove the excess dough and then place Totoro’s belly over the remaining pie filling. Gather up the leftover dough scraps and roll it together again and when flattened, use a cookie cutter to create the eyes and nose.
- Brush the top of the pies with the egg yolk.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and bake for 45 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the pies cool in the remaining heat for another 15 minutes before taking them out.
If you like apple pie, chances are you’ll like pear pie! You can also use nutmeg instead of cinnamon if you prefer.
Normally when working with larger pies, I roll the dough on a silicone mat or plastic wrap to help make the transfer to the pie tin easier. But since these were mini pies, a spatula was able to get under there and help lift the dough and prevent tears.
Giving the mini pies a good seal.
Catbus! I used a knife to cut in some whiskers and for steam to escape when the pie bakes.
My lil soot spirit pie!
Before they go in the oven, brush the dough with egg yolk.
I was lucky enough to go to the Donguri Republic store in Hong Kong earlier this year. I got that cute lil soot spirit, a watering can, and the fork (which is part of a utensil set that includes a spoon and chop sticks). AND I got my photo taken in the Catbus, it was the happiest day of my trip!