Hello friends! After a week’s break I am back, and I bring more summer pie! Last week, my family and I took a trip to Portland, Maine, one of our favorite places, and it was exactly what I needed to clear my head. The city was named Bon Appetit’s city of the year, and for good reason. Portland is a food-lover’s paradise, but more specifically, a baked-good lover’s paradise. Every morning I had some form of doughnuts, pie, or cinnamon rolls with some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, and I’m not kidding when I say that if the winters there didn’t get so cold, I would move there immediately.
If you’re planning a visit any time soon, here are the top three places from me:
ONE. Tandem Coffee Roasters (above right photo): a bakery/ coffee shop in a refurbished gas station, aka the most aesthetically pleasing and delicious place in the world
TWO. The Holy Donut (above left photo): the only thing you need to know about this place is that the doughnuts have MASHED POTATO in them!!! The result is the most tender, pillowy doughnut you’ll ever have (my favorite is the maple one!)
THREE. Two Fat Cats Bakery: the pie here is UNBELIEVABLE, and the inspiration behind today’s recipe. (ALSO, I was told they now ship their pies, you’re welcome!)
Something that I like to do with my friends and have been trying to do more of recently is occasionally make a list of 5 things to be happy about, just to keep things in perspective, so before we get started, I’m going to share some with you as well!
ONE. An unusually cool day in the summer, giving you a preview for the Fall season ahead, and a reason to sit on the porch with a hot cup of tea.
TWO. Finally finishing that book that you’ve been reading for months.
THREE. Freshly baked cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning.
FOUR. Lying in bed listening to thunder outside as you fall asleep.
FIVE. That one TV show that you know front and back but never get tired off. (For me it’s Pushing Daisies!!).
OKAY now that that’s covered, some quick notes about today’s recipe. This beautiful pie is brought to you by The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book (buy it here!), which covers truly every question you could ever have about pie. This one in particular originally featured only apricots, but since I had such a difficult time finding apricots around me, I had to improvise without abandoning the recipe all together, hence, the plums. Technically, the fruit I used was an apricot/ plum hybrid called an Aprium, which I had NEVER heard before. They tasted more like plums than apricots really, but both fruits would be spectacular with the cinnamon and vanilla custard. Also, the thickening agent in this pie is potato starch, which I had never encountered before but am now in love with. According to the book, it’s easier to find than tapioca and more effective than cornstarch, which leaves a gritty texture often. I used one from Bob’s Red Mill and was so happy with how the filling came together in a way that was thick but not gelatinous, and certainly not soupy. Finally, this pie was designed specifically to pair with the Vanilla Pouring Custard, so I would highly recommend following through with it. However, this custard can go on so many things- cakes, other pies, ice cream, straight from the pot to your mouth (??), idk, I’m not judging here. Now quick, let’s get baking!
Adapted from: The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
Makes: 1 double crust pie + approximately 2 cups custard
Pie Crust recipe for 1 Double Crust pie, found here
1½ lbs. apricots/ plums (or both!)
2 Tbs lemon juice
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
3 Tbs potato starch
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbs water)
ONE. Before starting your filling, prepare your pie dough following steps 1 through 4 of this recipe here. After the 30 minute chilling period, roll out half the pie crust and line your pie plate, then roll out the other half and chill both halves in the fridge while you make the filling. Preheat your oven to 425ºF.
TWO. Wash your fruit and cut in slices (in half, then in half moon slices), removing the stones. Toss the fruit with the lemon juice to prevent browning. In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and potato starch, then add this sugar mixture to the fruit. Stir until everything is evenly combined.
THREE. Pour this filling into the prepared pie shell, then place the top crust over it. You can do whatever you’d like here, whether you feel like a lattice or a full top crust! Brush the top with egg wash, and remember to cut some air vents if doing a full top crust. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and place the pie on a sheet pan (with raised edges), to catch spills and drips.
FOUR. Bake the pie at 425º for the first 20 minutes on the bottom most rack of your oven. When 20 minutes are up, turn the oven down to 375ºF, then bake for another 30 minutes. Keep watch for the crust, specifically the edges, which can burn, and cover with tin foil or pie crust protectors as necessary. Allow the pie to cool completely (to set the filling), before reheating and serving with Pouring Custard!
Vanilla Pouring Custard Ingredients
2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp cornstarch
4 Tbs white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 or 2 Tbs dark rum (optional)
Vanilla Pouring Custard Steps
ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it’s just about to boil, but doesn’t quite yet. Keep an eye on it, it heats up faster than you think!
TWO. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar until pale yellow. Carefully and VERY slowly, drizzle some of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly so as not to cook the eggs. This tempers the egg mixture and allows you to add it back to the milk without accidentally making scrambles.
THREE. Add the tempered egg mixture to the rest of the milk in the saucepan and cook on low, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the consistency is slightly thickened and coats the back of the spoon. *It took me a long time to get the custard to thicken, but don’t be tempted to turn the heat up too high because that tends to curdle the mixture. Just be patient!
FOUR. Place a sieve over a medium bowl and strain the custard to remove any lumps and give you the smoothest product. At this point, stir in the vanilla (and rum if you’re using it!). This is best served still warm, and trust me, there is no limit to how much you can pour on one slice of pie.