I love fruit pies but it’s been a long time since I’ve set out to make a double crusted pie entirely from scratch. Although I’m comfortable making my own pie dough, in the past few years I’ve resorted to buying frozen pie crusts from Trader Joes. While it certainly cuts the time considerably, the flavor never quite measures up to a good homemade crust.
This month’s recipe comes for Leslie Mackie. Prior to TWD, I’ve made her Raspberry-Fig Crostata, and loved the results. So I eagerly anticipated trying out her pie dough recipe. Predominantly I make an all-butter crust. In the past, I’ve also made a crust with half butter, half lard. I was curious to see how this crust, with a ratio of roughly 2 parts shortening to one part butter would turn out. Hosts for Blueberry-Nectarine Pie are Hilary of Manchego’s Kitchen and Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake. The complete recipe can be found on their blogs, or in the pages of Baking With Julia.
As with Oasis Naan, I would be baking in the strange though familiar kitchen of my parents in Southern California. Familiar as it’s the kitchen where I started baking as a youngster; strange, in that you can no longer count on having the same ingredients, tools, etc. on hand — or at least where you expect them to be.
Shakespeare wrote, “The play’s the thing.” For a pie like Blueberry Nectarine, the fruit’s the thing. Especially for stone fruit like nectarines, the longer the fruit stays on the tree, more and better flavors will develop. That’s a lesson learned from Russ Parsons’ excellent book “How to Pick a Peach”, as well as a wisdom shared by countless fruit farmers.
As with the French Strawberry Cake, I went to a farmer’s market for the best fruit I could find. I tasted one farmer’s nectarines and it was like tasting a different fruit. I asked him to select 5 or so nectarines. I think it cost me around $3. The blueberries were not quite so cheap, and here I’d probably not spend as much next time, as I’ve found comparable fruit at the supermarkets. Since my nectarines were quite sweet on their own, I held back the sugar by a few tablespoons. I also increased the fruit by about 30% since I would be filling a 10″ deep pie plate.
This crust challenged my previous expectations and experiences making pie dough. The butter cut in quite nicely with my stand mixer. After adding the shortening though, I ended up with dough reminding me a finished pie dough, before having added a drop of water. Not wanting to skip out on the ice water, I added most it. After it’s chill the dough remained quite soft, probably a result of using ad-hoc pastry flour. Luckily, once baked, any apprehensions I had about the crust melted away.
Since learning a “proper” way of crimping a pie dough from America’s Test Kitchen, I look forward to that process. Leslie Mackie’s decoration for this pie is a little different from the uniform two fingers and thumb crimp. Luckily I was also able to see her demonstrate it on the PBS show. For the sanding sugar, I balked at buying a a pound or more of coarse sugar, and opted instead to snag a few packet from the local coffee house when I bought a glass of iced tea.
I baked the pie for just under 40 minutes at 375 degrees F. On the low end for the directions. However the edges of my crust were starting to brown much more than the top, and I didn’t want to ruin the crimp with foil. I’ve had good luck with bottom crusts cooking from the residual heat of my Emile Henry pie plates. I might try lowering the oven temperature just a tad as that might delay the browning a bit.
I was very satisfied with this pie, on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I would definitely make it, and the pie crust again. The combination of blueberry and large chunks of nectarine elevated it over a standard blueberry pie. I might be tempted to increase the butter just a bit, mixing some in with the shortening. And I do like a small amount of sugar in the dough; I’d probably go with 2 Tbs for the full recipe.