Plums are still in season, and Robert Wemischner comes on the Market Report this week to talk about what desserts he’s making with them. Here’s his recipe for plum pie.
Speaking of pie, don’t forget that registration is now open for the 6th Annual Good Food Pie Contest at the Fowler Museum. Go to kcrw.com/pie to enter your winning pie.
Serves 8 generous portions
By Robert Wemischner
Inspired by the diversity and sheer lusciousness of the plums at the farmer’s market, I created this buttery stone fruit pie. Made from a combination of golden mirabelles, Greengages and mottled purple- skinned Grand Claret varieties, the pie boasts an almond-based crust and vanilla-scented custard which holds everything together. Feel free to use any plums you can find but taste first to arrive at a nice balance of sweet and tart varieties.
For the Flaky Almond Crust:
Note: After assembling the pie, you will have extra dough. For some wonderful sugar straws to accompany ice cream or snack on with tea, roll this leftover dough into a rectangle about 1/3” thick and then sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. Now cut into strips and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees F until puffed and golden brown.
2 c. all-purpose flour (approximately 8.8 ounces)
Generous cup (approximately 4 ounces) Blanched almond flour
3⁄4 lb. unsalted butter, cold
1/3 t. salt
Generous 3⁄4 c. ice water
Place the flour and almond flour along with the salt into a medium sized bowl. Cut the butter into large flat pieces, measuring about 2-1/2” long by 1⁄2” thick. Place butter into the bowl and lightly mix to coat the butter with the dry ingredients. Add the ice water and stir lightly until the water is absorbed. You will have a very rough mixture now. Lightly flour a work surface and place the mixture onto it. Using a rolling pin, pat the mixture to compress the butter into the dry ingredients. Run a dough scraper or other spatula-like tool under the mixture periodically to be sure that it is not sticking to the work surface. Move the rough dough aside and now lightly flour the work surface. Place the mixture onto the floured area and lightly flour the top of it. Using the rolling pin, continue patting this mixture until it comes together into a rough shaggy dough. Roll the dough to a thickness of about 3⁄4” (checking frequently to be sure that it is not sticking to the work surface) and now fold the top half over the middle and the bottom half over the top half that you have just folded, like folding a letter into thirds before placing it into an envelope. You should now have a rectangular three-layered dough. Turn the dough so that the short side faces you and roll it out again. Fold and roll as before, chilling the dough in the freezer briefly if it seems to be getting too soft (and therefore is sticking to the work surface. )
Repeat the rolling and folding process once more, sprinkling as little flour as possible on the work surface and on top of the dough. Now chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes more. Remove from the freezer and now roll the chilled dough into a rectangle about 1/3” thick. Place onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and chill in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes while you prepare the Plum Filling.
For the Plum Filling:
Generous 2-1/2 pounds of assorted plums
Generous 3⁄4 c. (approximately 6 ounces) granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Few drops of almond extract (be stingy with this as it can overpower the pie)
1⁄2 t. grated lemon zest
1⁄2 c. all purpose flour or 1⁄4 c. rice flour
Generous pinch of salt
Halve and then pit the plums. Now slice them thinly. Mix the plums with all of the other ingredients and set aside until ready to assemble the pie.
Assembling and baking the pie:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Set an oven rack 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the oven.
Make the Custard Filling as follows:
3 egg yolks from large eggs
1⁄2 c. half and half
1⁄4 c. (approximately 1-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Few drops of almond extract
In a small bowl, using a fork or a whisk, combine all of the ingredients. Place into a pouring vessel such as a measuring cup used for liquid measure and set aside. If not using immediately, refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
Remove the dough from the freezer and now divide it into two unequal parts, one-third and two thirds. The smaller portion is used for the bottom crust, and the remainder of the dough is used for the top crust. Roll the smaller portion of the dough into a circle measuring approximately 12” in diameter. Place this gently into a 10-” round pie pan. Carefully spoon the plum filling into the bottom crust. Brush the outer exposed margin of the dough lightly with cold water. Refrigerate the pie-in-progress while you roll out the dough for the top crust.
Roll the larger portion of the dough into a circle measuring approximately 14” in diameter. Using a cookie cutter or some other round metal or plastic tool, cut a 2” circle out of the center of the dough to create a vent into which the egg custard will be poured after the first 15 minutes of baking the pie.
Remove the pie-in-progress from the refrigerator and carefully position the top dough onto the pie, centering the hole in the center of the pie. Then gently press the edges of the bottom and top crusts together to make them adhere. Crimp the edges of the pie decoratively as desired. Now place the pie onto a sheet pan with an edge to catch any spills and to make it easier to move the pie around for even baking since all ovens have hot spots. Brush the top of the pie with a small amount of the custard mixture.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes and then carefully pull the oven rack out far enough so that you can pour the custard filling into the hole in the top crust. Pour gradually allowing the custard to migrate into the fruit filling and then pour more until all of the custard mixture has been poured into the pie. Now reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and continue to bake the pie until it is golden brown and the custard appears set, about 45-55 minutes longer. Cool to lukewarm before attempting to slice the pie. Serve warm or cold as desired.
©2014 Robert Wemischner