Stone fruits make the best pie. Truly.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the BC nectarines are unreal this year – better than any I’ve had. We bought a case and started rationing them toward the end – they were so sweet and juicy, we’d slice them thickly over our pancakes, and let the juices mingle with maple syrup. There were apricots, too – and some peaches, and plums. And the omnipresent blackberries, which add tartness and colour by the handful to just about any pie. I mean – look at it!
The crumble top was a compromise of the best possible kind – some in the house wanted pie, and others wanted crisp – I kind of like getting the best of both worlds. And in the late summer and fall, which with all its apples and pears and stone fruits is undoubtedly crisp season, you can blend a big batch (I use equal parts brown sugar – flour – oats, with half as much butter, rubbed into rubble) and keep it in the freezer to scatter over fruit tossed with sugar, or pies, or unbaked muffins.
I was surprised to learn a couple years ago that a very well known restaurant with a very well known chef (who told me so herself) made pies using frozen shells. She shrugged and said they were perfectly fine, streamlined the process, and no one knew. Well then. While I can make pastry, I sometimes don’t feel like it – or I don’t want to clean up the mess, or we’re out at a cabin somewhere with no pie pan or no flour, or we’re leaving the next day and I don’t want to buy the ingredients. Or for whatever reason. Perhaps you fear pastry (it can sense it) or it’s too hot, or you’re in a hurry. As a wise friend once said, the best kind of pie is the kind on your table. This is true. No one will complain if you made a pie without making the crust from scratch. Bonus: if you’re going somewhere, you don’t need to remember to bring your pie plate home with you. Of course you could make a single crust for this pie – of course you could – or you could crimp or press the edges of your premade crust with the tines of a fork to make it look a little more yours.
A stone fruit and berry pie is tart and juicy – my favourite qualities in a pie, I think. Don’t fear a juicy pie – I’d rather have a juicy one than a stodgy, gummy one. If it’s summer and there are plenty of people around, you may find yourself standing around the kitchen (or patio) table with a bowl of whipped cream and bunch of forks (and maybe a few spoons). This may just be my favourite way to eat pie.
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