Fruit Pie

When I think of the summers of my childhood, I think of waking up early and swimming in our pool by myself, while my mom sat on the patio doing a crossword and drinking coffee. I think of my mom's chicken salad, which I hated as a kid (it had grapes in it! Come on!) but which I have now spent the better part of a decade trying to re-create. I think of coconut ice cream from a place called The Candy Kitchen on the beach, and I think of bringing home HEAPS of books from the Seminole Public Library, laying on the floor of my bedroom and reading through them one after another-- always excited when I found a new mystery novel. Summers in Florida were pretty amazing—and after we moved to North Carolina, they stayed pretty epic with long beach trips, camp, and visits to Kentucky.

When my mom talks about her childhood in the same town where I grew up, it was a completely different, though equally awesome, story: she would leave her house in the morning on her bike, and spend the day riding around doing whatever she wanted with her friends. As a little kid, her limits were the distance that Eleanor could shout (not as strict as it sounds-- Eleanor had quite a set of lungs), but after Eleanor had surgery on her throat and couldn't shout for my mom and her brother anymore, she took to ringing a cowbell when she needed my mom and her brother to come home. I have a vivid image of Eleanor in my head, standing on the microscopic stoop of their house in a polyester dress, one hand cocked on her hip, a lit cigarette in her mouth, ringing a cowbell with a bored look on her face, completely un-embarrassed at the racket she was making and completely unconcerned with what the neighbours would think. (Where, though, do you think she found a cowbell on the Gulf Coast of Florida?). When my mom got a little older, her limits were farther and farther until by the time she started high school I'm pretty sure she had ridden the entirety of Pinellas County on her bicycle. She and her friends would head to the beach, where they'd slather themselves in baby oil and lay in the sun for hours (these were the days before skin cancer worries, and my mom's olive skin tans like a charm). Anyway, there's not a lot that my childhood summers share in common with my mom's (other than ice cream at The Candy Kitchen), but one thing I think everyone's summers share is the need for summertime desserts. Fruit pies in the summer are just the perfect complement to long days that never seem to want to end, and somehow they're made even better if you happen to have picked the fruit yourself.

Whatever your summers were like as a child, I think there's probably a good chance they were more awesome than your summers as an adult, when work continues, you can't patronise the beach on a daily basis, and real-life doesn't allow you to wile away 5 hours at a time reading books. But you know what doesn't have to change? Your favourite summertime dessert.

The recipe for this pie just calls for '5 ½ cups mix fruit,' so I had a lot of leeway-- but it's summer, so obviously I went with peaches (my all-time favourite fruit) and apricots. Also, the recipe is written on receipt tape, like the kind that used to come out of calculators, and that cracks me up. As a side note, when I told Judson I was making a peach pie, he thought I had invented it myself as he had never, in his own words, 'heard of peach pie, or even knew you could make it.' Sometimes I hate to correct him.

You could definitely make this pie filling with anything that's in season right now, though if you're using a drier fruit like rhubarb or apples, you might want to lower the amount of flour by about 1/3 to accommodate. Bonus points if you combine fruits for new and unique flavours (my backup plan if the peaches weren't ripe was going to be blackberry/cherry/raspberry). I actually wanted to make this an apricot pie, but I couldn't find enough apricots (but if you can, do it-- I made a mini apricot pie with the perfect ones that are in season over here right now, and it was amaaaaazing).

The crust, however, is a giant pain. I have this theory that with most foods, you should try new ones all the time: just because you have a chocolate cake recipe that you like doesn't mean you won't find another that's just as good! But when it comes to pie crusts, all bets are off. If you have one that you like, you should just use it all the time because pie crusts are nothing but a hassle. And this one, although deliciously buttery and perfectly textured, is no exception. As Judson pointed out, it may be because the main ingredient is supposed to be shortening and I had to use Stork because of the infernal lack of Crisco in this country, or it may just be because this recipe is a nightmare, but the crust is insanely sticky and wet, which means it's not super easy to handle. You're not going to get a beautiful lattice crust with this dough, but the buttery layers go perfectly with the filling and I'd still recommend it.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. This pie was so good, we all went back for seconds. It's miraculous. Plus, the filling is just insanely easy-- especially if you use berries, which don't even have to be sliced. Make this pie and enjoy a warm slice on a sunny evening-- if you're stateside, you can have it with a scoop of ice cream. If you're over here, pour some cream over it and you're in for a true treat.

The recipe:

Peach & Apricot Pie

The directions:


Crack egg into a 1-cup measuring cup.
Fill the cup the rest of the way with ice-cold water.
Combine all ingredients, mixing well.
Form into a loose ball and chill while you make the filling.

THe ingredients:

the crust:

4 ½ c flour, sifted
2 c shortening/Stork
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tbs vinegar


Preheat oven to 176C/350F.
Mix all ingredients together and set aside.
Divide crust in half, roll out one half and place in pie dish.
If dough is particularly sticky, weigh it down with pie weights or dry beans and parbake for 5-10 minutes until pale but dry to the touch.
Fill pie crust with fruit mixture, roll out other half of dough and lay gently over the pie dish,
Crimp edges tightly and cut vents in the top crust.
Cook 15-20 minutes until crust is golden-brown.

The filling:

5 ½ c fruit, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 c flour (less if using non-juicy fruits)
1 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon