The, on average, once-weekly posting here may mislead you into believing that’s how often I bake. But this scattering of posts belies the fact that I bake so much more, sometimes even every day in the summer. My baking outstrips my blogging skills; I haven’t yet gotten fully used to the blogging process, so one post does take a while. My baking/posting ratio is in fact so incompatible that I’ve amassed an ample backlog of unposted recipes that suddenly must be posted soon, because they involve seasonal summer ingredients that in a few weeks will be just a pleasant lingering memory. Sigh… So I’m getting down to business and hopefully you’ll be seeing a steady upswing in the frequency of posting, at least for the next two weeks or so. Most posts will probably star stone fruit, berries, ice cream, sorbet, or other summer delights. Today’s number features the marriage of nectarines and blackberries in a flaky pâte brisée– also known as a nectarine and blackberry pie. Homemade pies are frequently a “labor of love”– not difficult but requiring preplanning and a good chunk of time, mostly for waiting around for crusts to chill, fillings to macerate, and pie to bake. (It’s all worth it, though, when I sneak a first thin slice of the warm pie.) Similar story here, except the waiting around went quickly this time. I took a welcome departure from routine (cough, totalitarian control of kitchen) and invited my friend Kristen to come over to make it with me. An afternoon of baking pie (and watching a movie in the interim) seemed like such the right thing to do in the middle of the summer. We had a great time, and even got a delicious pie out of it.
Nectarine and Blackberry Pie
This pie embodies everything that a fruit pie should have: flaky, buttery crust (aided by an ingenious prebake that keeps the bottom crust sturdy); tender, gently sweetened fruit; and a pretty top that gives a peek of the jewel-toned fruit inside.
Pie Dough (Pâte Brisée)
loosely adapted from Martha Stewart
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and toss to coat in the flour mixture. With your fingertips or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the pieces are small (about the size of dried beans) and flaky. Don’t overmix; it will look uneven, but that’s okay.
Drizzle 1/4 cup of ice water and stir with a spatula or spoon. If the dough is not coming together, add more water a tablespoon at a time. The dough should stick together but not be overly wet or sticky.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap tightly in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be frozen, well wrapped in plastic and a layer of foil, up to 1 month.
Nectarine Blackberry Pie
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
1 recipe of Pie Dough (above)
2 1/2 pounds (about 6 cups) nectarines (and peaches if you want), pitted and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or less if the fruit is very sweet)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups blackberries
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Raw sugar, for sprinkling
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1/2 the pie dough (if you divided it unevenly, use the large half) into a 12 inch circle, or enough to line a 9-inch pie pan with about 1 1/2 inches of overhang. Transfer dough to pie pan. Using your fingertips, flute the edges of the dough around the pie pan, or shape the edges in another decorative way. Chill the dough at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Cover with plastic wrap if leaving more than 2 hours.
Roll out the remaining pie dough. Using cookie cutter (Clark suggests about 2 1/2 inches in size, but my star cookie cutter was smaller), cut shapes out of the pie dough. Clark suggest 10 to 15 cutouts, but I needed a lot more. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting out shapes until you have enough to cover the entire pie evenly. Transfer the cutouts to a wax-paper lined plate and chill until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 375° F and center a rack in the middle of the oven. In a large bowl, mix the nectarines (and peaches, if you’re using them) with the lemon juice. Add the sugars and salt and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved. Set the fruit aside to macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prebake the crust. Line the crust with a piece of buttered foil and fill with pie weights. I used dried beans instead; you can also use rice. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the edges of the crust begin to crisp and barely brown. Remove the weights and foil and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes to crisp the bottom of the crust.
Raise the oven temperature to 400° F. Add the cornstarch and vanilla to the fruit and stir to dissolve the cornstarch. Add the blackberries and stir gently. Scrape the fruit mixture into the prebaked pie shell. Arrange the chilled cutouts on top of the filling. They should touch each other but have enough space between for the fruit to be visible. Brush the cutouts and edges of the crust (including the baked part) with the beaten egg white and sprinkle generously with raw sugar. Bake the pie for about 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden.
Lower the oven temperature to 350° F. Continue baking the pie for an additional 35 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is deeply golden brown. If the edges of the pie are browning too quickly, make a ring of foil to cover the edges of the pie. Let the pie cool at room temperature for about 2 hours until only slightly warm to prevent the juices from running.