By far the most important discovery I have so far made since moving to New York is that of the magical world of pie. Yes, pie. That simple, totally typical, all-American dessert. It's such a basic, widely-loved creation over here that it's almost taken for granted. For those of us who have been bought up on crumbles, cakes, and flapjacks (this kind, not this kind), pie is a wonderful amalgamation of all my favorite things. Especially when it's a crumble pie, filled with bubbling fruit, and with a crust so thick it's almost too much for my teeth to handle.
On the subject of pie crust, I just want to take a moment to explain how it has taken me astoundingly long to get it right. I once spent a whole summer perfecting my French-inspired tart crusts, making them as thin, light, flaky, and buttery as possible. So whenever I roll out any pastry into a circle, up until this point in my life, I have immediately, automatically started treating it like that classic tarte au citron, and, inevitably, I am always disappointed by the lack of thick, crusty, almost burned, layered pie pastry when I cut into the tart-pie hybrid I have produced. However, it seems that I have finally managed to delete my muscle memory and I've managed to bake a pie where the crust is so thick that the crimping pretty much held it's shape, it's challenging to cut through, and it actually resembled the numerous slices I've eaten at Four and Twenty Blackbirds.
So, without further mumblings about my inability to not over-roll my pie dough, here's the recipe for the pie y'all need to make before we're out of nectarines for the year.
Nectarine and Blackberry Peach Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie.
Pastry (barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (110 grams) unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
1 cup iced water
Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter has broken down into pieces which are no bigger than tiny peas. Add 1/2 cup iced water and pulse. If the dough is beginning to come together, remove from the food processor. If it needs more water, add a tiny bit more, but be careful to not to use any more than you need. Knead the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc shape. Wrap in cling film/plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
4 nectarines, stones removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup blackberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
5 teaspoons caster sugar
Place the nectarines, blackberries, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, and stir together. Add the flour and both sugars and toss gently to combine, trying not to break up the fruit too much.
Crumble (barely adapted from Lily Vanilli)
30 grams (1 ounce) flour
30 grams (1 ounce) dark brown sugar
30 grams (1 ounce) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
30 grams (1 ounce) rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix the flour and sugar together. Add the butter and, using your fingers work it into the sugar and flour mixture until it has broken down and looks like breadcrumbs. Stir through the oats and the salt.
To Assemble the Pie
Flour, to roll and dust
Ice cream or whipped cream, to serve
Heat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.
Roll the pastry out on a well-floured board into a circle at least 1 inch wider in diameter than your pie dish. Fold it into quarters and transfer it to your pie dish, and then unfold it. Fold the excess pastry back under the edge of the dough and crimp the edges as desired. Dust a couple of teaspoons of flour over the pastry base.
Pour in the fruit and sprinkle the crumble topping over it.
Place on a baking sheet (to catch any spillage) and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Let cool (this will take a couple of hours) before serving with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.