Fat apricots, glossy plums, tart greengages,
velvet-skinned apriums, sweet little leaf-on cherries.
A tart Summer pie inspired by the
bounty at my local greenmarket.
An adapted amalgamation of this New York Times peach-and-cherry pie
+ the Four and Twenty Blackbirds all-butter crust.
For the crust
220 g butter (2 sticks) — cold
2.5 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp sugar (caster or raw)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup iced water
1 lemon, juiced¹
For the filling
1.35 kg (3 lbs) stone fruit, including cherries²
3/4 cup sugar (caster or raw)
30 g cornflour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum³
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp demerara sugar
- Several hours before you’re ready to bake, prep the crust:
In a small bowl, put some ice cubes in half a cup of water together with the lemon juice. Set aside.
- Cut the butter into small cubes, and chuck it into a large mixing bowl with the flour, sugar and salt.
- Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub/blend the butter into the dry ingredients until most of the lumps are only pea-sized.
- Add 2 tablespoons of this liquid to the flour/butter mixture.
- Using your hands, mix the water into the dry ingredients — you want to be able to just form a ball of dough, so keep adding iced water 1/2 a tablespoon at a time, kneading it in, until you get there.
- Split the dough into two halves (do bother weighing them), flatten them into discs, wrap separately, and put them in the fridge for a few hours.
- After a few hours…
Take the dough out of the fridge, and preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F.
- Cut all the fruit into relatively even-sized slices, and halve/pit the cherries.
(You can buy a utensil to do this for you, but the manual process is surprisingly therapeutic.)
- Put the fruit in a large mixing bowl, along with the 3/4 cup of sugar, the cornflour and the xanthan gum. Stir gently with a spatula until the dry ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Roll out the first disc of dough until it’s about an inch larger than the pie dish, lay it in the dish, and dump the fruit in there.
- Make a lattice, because practice makes perfect (or at least better).
- Paint the pastry with a little milk, then sprinkle with demerara sugar.
- Put the whole pie dish on a baking tray/sheet to catch any runaway juices, and pop it on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 175°C/350°F and bake for another 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden all over and the juices have gone jammy.
- Take the pie out of the oven and leave it on a cooling rack til it’s almost room temperature.
- Serve with something creamy — ice-cream or double cream or whipped cream or custard or creamy yoghurt or… — to offset the acidity of the fruit.
¹The Four and Twenty Blackbirds crust recipe uses apple-cider vinegar ‘for tenderness and tang’. I didn’t have any lying around, but I did have a lemon, and it did work!
²I used a combination of plums, apricots and apriums — some very soft, some still a bit unripe — and about two handfuls of small sweet cherries. This may sound extravagant somewhere like Sydney, where even in Summer that much stone fruit can be unattainable/unafforable. So I say the following with all sincerity: this pie would be delicious made with half fresh fruit, and half tinned apricots and peaches. You could also use all peaches, all nectarines or all plums (etc.) depending on what you can get your hands on. But do try to get a combination of soft and firm — the latter will give you the tart kick that makes this pie so good.
³As previously explained, some people have a knack for producing jammy pies. I don’t, so I cheat, and I encourage you to do likewise.