Last weekend, we drove out to Niagara on a perfect summer day. It was so hot the ice melted in our water bottle almost immediately, and I watched the condensation drip, drip, drip away until it was all gone. It was a day for huge, floppy hats, sunscreen-slatherings, and big smiles as we watched Alan’s niece and nephew scamper through the orchards and return triumphantly, arms full of peaches and nectarines and plums and apricots.
I’m headed back to the country this weekend to visit a friend’s cottage. You can bet that I’m going to return with basketfuls of fruit from every roadside vendor I see. The slow end of summer, with it’s stifling heat and wild rains and occasional cool evenings seems to produce the best fruit. The peaches we picked last weekend were so huge and ripe that they were bursting themselves open against the very branches that grew them.
Now’s the time for pie. Summer fruit is at its best and most ripe, hanging redolent from the branches and begging to be wrapped in a buttery, flaky crust. Never made pie crust before? Fear not, I’ve got you covered with this tutorial here.
The beauty of this pie is you can use any stone fruit you’ve got on hand; there’s no way to go wrong. Peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, nectarines, pluots — they all make a lovely stone fruit summer pie.
What you end up with is sweet, tender fruit, boiled down and caramelized in their own sugars and juices, inside of a shatteringly crispy crust, rich as can be from all that butter. You won’t regret it.
In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, and salt, or quickly pulse them together in a food processor. Add your cubes of butter and cut them in (or pulse in the processor) until the butter chunks are the size of small peas, and you have what looks like a very coarse meal. At this point, if you’re using a food processor, scrape contents out from the food processor and into a large bowl. People doing this in a bowl already, just keep using the same one.
Add half of the ice water-buttermilk mixture, and mix it in. Continue adding the liquid mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is slightly shaggy, but holds together when squeezed. Try not to overmix.
Shape dough into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap/parchment paper and refrigerate for minimum 1 hour. This resting period allows the glutens to relax, the liquid to distribute evenly, and the dough to become firm enough to roll out — all good things for a tender crust!
For the filling
While the pie dough chills, mix all of the ingredients for your filling together in a large bowl and allow to macerate for 15 minutes.
Rolling and assembling
Remove one of your doughs from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for 5 minutes before rolling. Set aside a small bowl of flour for dusting. Dust your rolling surface with flour, and roll out your dough into roughly a 12-inch circle, then gently transfer to your pie plate. Fill with fruit pie filling, and transfer to the fridge.
Roll out the second dough the same way, then transfer to the top of your pie. Trim any excess, fold the top crust over the bottom and tuck it under, then crimp as desired. Cut slits in the top crust to allow the steam to escape during baking.
Transfer the whole thing to the freezer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F, and set out a large rimmed baking sheet.
When the pie is frozen quite solid, set the pie plate on the baking sheet. Break an egg into a bowl and mix with a splash of water to make an egg wash, then brush that all over the crust. Sprinkle with the Tablespoon of coarse sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes at 425F. Reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. (Keep an eye on the crust towards the end of the time for over browning. If the crust seems to be getting too dark tent a large piece of foil over it – just put it on loosely.)