Pie. Sigh. Can that word be said without warm, loving feelings flooding your body? It is the ultimate in American comfort food. Our mothers and grandmothers made us pies and now we make them for those we love. Apple pies in the fall. Pumpkin and Pecan at Thanksgiving. Rhubarb in the spring. Cherry, Blueberry, Fresh Strawberry, Key Lime, and Lemon Meringue in the summer. And the lovely cream pies that are good all year long – Chocolate Silk, Coconut, Banana, Peanut Butter. Oh my. The soft, fragrant middle cradled gently by a buttery, flaky crust. Pie is a celebration of life.
And THIS pie, oh, it lives up to it’s name. It will make a bad day good and it will make a really bad day, well, it will make you forget your troubles for a while. Because this is Peach Plum pie. Perfectly in season right now – I didn’t even know how wonderful plums could be in a pie until I worked out this recipe right here. So if you’ve got some peaches and plums sitting on your counter right now I urge you to try this today. It will make someone you love sigh and remember why they love you so much. And what could be better than that?
Let’s get started. First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
You’re going to need about four cups of sliced peaches and plums. Some of each, proportion doesn’t matter too terribly much. I think one large peach is about a cup of fruit. Mine were not large so I ended up slicing more. You’ll want to peel the peaches of course but you can leave the skins on the plums if it doesn’t freak you out to do so. Plum skins are so thin and fragile they all but disintegrate during the cooking process. And they give the fruit such a nice vibrant color when baked. And it’s more work to take the skins off so why are we talking about this again?
Just slice down the seam of the fruit, twist the halves apart and dig your little thumb in there to get the pit out.
Then just slice up the halves as evenly as you can and have the patience for. Again, it’s food. And it’s home. Perfection not required.
Until you can fill up your 1 qt Pyrex container. I love this thing. I use it constantly.
Now we’re going to add in 1/4 cup of sugar.
…1/2 cup of brown sugar. I had never used brown sugar to sweeten a pie until I tried it on a whim this summer. I will never go back. Sugar is sweet. Brown sugar is sweet and so much more.
Shake in some cinnamon. I don’t usually measure but if you’re the measuring sort, I’d estimate a teaspoon or so. (If my “voice” sounds off right now, and I reckon it does, it’s because we just finished re-watching the Firefly series. I have Malcolm Reynolds’ western speech pattern stuck in my head.)
Now add a 1/4 tsp salt. Yes, salt. We add it to just about every other baked good to add dimension and bring out the sweetness. Why not add it in with the fruit too? It draws the water out of the fruit as you’ll see in a minute but that is taken care of with cornstarch.
Speaking of which, there it is. I dump in two heaping tablespoons.
Finally, add in 1/8 teaspoon Almond Extract. Because almonds and peaches just go so beautifully together. I used imitation because that’s all they had at the store the day I bought it. You only need a teeny bit ‘ cause it is POTENT man.
Mix it all up (You can transfer to a bigger bowl if you like so you don’t have to worry about spilling stuff on your counter. I hate washing an extra dish but that’s just me.).
This lovely lady here is my best friend in the kitchen. If you’re baking gluten free, you want, you NEED a kitchen scale. They’re not expensive. I think mine was $20. Even if you’re not baking gluten free a scale is still an awesome tool to have in the kitchen.
That said, if you’re not baking gluten free today you can use the crust recipe you usually use or you can use those wonderful Pillsbury ones that are already rolled out. If you are making your own crust and want to use regular flour just stick to the classic ratio and you’ll be all set. 3 parts flour : 2 parts butter : 1 part water. By WEIGHT. For this pie that translates to nine ounces flour (roughly 1 1/3 cups), six ounces of butter (a stick and a half) , and two ounces water (1/4 cup).
Now, before we go any further, put your butter in the freezer. The few minutes it spends in there will make it nice and firm and will give us a little bit more time when making our crust.
Now, put your food processor bowl (or a regular bowl if you don’t have a food processor) on the scale and zero it out (or hit “tare” if that’s what yours says).
And assemble all of your ingredients. Pretend that butter is in my freezer. The weird ziplock bag is my all purpose gf flour blend.
Now, spoon in the flours and watch happily as your scale does the measuring perfectly for you. No measuring cups here, yay! Add in the salt and sugar…
…and give it a whir to combine and aerate.
Now grab your butter out of the freezer and divide it in half lengthwise. Turn it over and do it again so it’s quartered. Then cut into little chunks. If you don’t have a food processor and are using a pastry blender (or, God help you, a fork) to bring your dough together, you will be extra glad you took this step.
Get a glass of ice water ready.
Throw your butter into the mixer. Blurry. Oops. Clearly I can’t see this early in the morning.
And pulse 20 times. Exactly. No, just kidding. You want pea sized chunks of butter. And yes, you WANT chunks. It’s the chunks that allow air pockets to form while baking, giving your crust that flaky quality we all adore. These will go away if the butter gets too warm so let’s keep moving here.
Grab a tablespoon of your ice water and pour it in with the motor running. You may add as much as another tablespoon, just enough to bring the dough together into one mass but err on the dry side. Now, of course, if you are not using a food processor, just keep at it with the pastry blender or fork until it comes together.
The glorious thing about working with gluten free flours is that you CANNOT overwork the dough. You know how they always say, “you have to be gentle with pie crust”? That’s because you don’t want to activate the gluten strands in the wheat and make your dough tough. Picture a piece of cooked spaghetti. That’s gluten before you start manhandling it. Now picture that same piece of spaghetti snapping to attention, like it starts out dry in the package. Now imagine millions of those little strands snapping to attention in your dough. You get the idea. Great for bread, not great for pie crust. With no gluten there’s nothing to activate, no worry of toughness. Breathe. 🙂
I’m gonna warn you now, this dough is not what you’d expect pie dough to feel like. It will be roughly the consistency of frosting. Which means no rolling out. Apologies if you were looking forward to using your rolling pin. Just spread 2/3 of the dough (or pipe it- a technique I’ve been dying to try) as evenly as you can into your pie plate. Gluten free dough (that feels normal) just cannot support the classic 3:2:1 ratio of flour to butter to water. I have used a gf crust recipe that rolls and flutes beautifully that is closer to a 4:2:1/2 ratio. But I think mine tastes so much better in the end. That’s why it’s “Rustic” Peach Plum Pie. I should tell you right now that pretty much every gf pie I make can be called “Rustic”.
Pour your fruit (which has now been macerating so long it’s probably somewhat soupy – that’s okay) into the crust. Don’t be silly like me and pour in every drop so it’s overflowing your pan (you’ll see what I mean in the next couple shots). And try not to drop the spoon in as well. Yeesh.
Ready for the fun “rustic” part? Take the remaining 1/3 of the dough and pinch little bits between your fingers to make little thin islands of dough and just place them on top of the fruit, almost covering it. You can actually go thinner than I did here.
Like that. Wasn’t that fun??? Okay I think it’s fun. Now quickly! Into the oven it goes! (Put a rimmed baking sheet on the rack underneath just in case. It’s a lot easier to clean than your oven is.) Set your timer for 50 minutes and go get your four kids ready for school/to leave the house. Or whatever it is you want/need to do in the next 50 minutes.
“Hello! My name is Rosie and I love baking too! But only when my mommy keeps me in the carrier the whole time.” (Whilst being VERY careful!)
And there it is. A beauty contest she would not win but the taste…
…oh yeah, THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about. Look at the beautiful colors in the fruit. And the layers in the crust. Sigh. This is the perfect end to a long day. Joy in food form.
Peach Plum Pie
4 cups peaches and plums, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 heaping Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp almond extract
For the gluten free crust:
2.5 oz almond flour
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1.5 sticks of butter
2 Tbsp ice water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice peaches and plums until you have about 4 cups and toss with sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and almond extract. Set aside.
Put butter in the freezer while you start the dough for the crust. Turn on your kitchen scale, set a bowl on it and zero it out. Spoon in gf flour mix (or regular flour), almond flour, sugar, and salt. Put flour mix into food processor and mix it thoroughly to combine.
Remove butter from freezer and divide lengthwise twice then chop into little bits. Add to flour mixture and pulse 20 times. You want pea-sized chunks. Add ice water and combine until dough forms into one mass. Dough will be the consistency of frosting. Spread or pipe 2/3 of dough into pie pan, getting it as even as possible. Try to work quickly so the butter bits stays firm.
Add peach/plum mixture. Grab little bits of remaining dough, flatten with your fingers and place on top of fruit, almost covering.
Put a baking sheet in the oven on the bottom rack. Place pie on a middle rack directly over the cookie sheet.
Bake 50 minutes.
Cool and serve.