I’ve been chasing the honest apricot all my life. (I tell that story on Flavour105 Radio this afternoon, as the first in my series of Food Essays).
This pie is part of my apricot story. It started as a story my parents tell, of a journey they’d taken in their younger days to Bryce Canyon in southwestern Utah. They’d driven all day through otherworldly landscapes, arriving hungry after dark at the one-horse town where they were to spend the night outside the national park. Everything on the single street had shut tight except for the bakery, which was still sweeping up. They chanced it, hoping for something, anything — to find there was one last thing left on the baker’s shelves: a single golden-crusted apricot pie.
They bought that whole pie and brought it back to their room where they ate it with plastic forks, sitting on the bed, drinking motel coffee. And they raved, and gave thanks, and demolished that pie like it was the first and last pie created in heaven to set the example for all pies on earth.
I fell in love with the pie in their story before I’d ever tasted an apricot pie. They made it sound so vivid and wonderful that I always felt I’d tasted it too. And so of course I did make an actual pie some years later – and that pie was indeed wonderful. I’ve made it ever since when apricots are in season, and want to share the simple recipe, so you can make apricot pie a part of your story, too.
Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8 people
If you can get apricots ripened on the tree, lucky you! If you can’t, a pie is a good way to enhance the flavour of an average apricot. (You can even use reconstituted and softened dried apricots.) Ideally they should be perfectly ripe, but slightly underripe is okay, too. They will soften on cooking. As long as you can slice them easily, they will be good in this pie.
The almond essence amplifies the apricot flavour. Don’t use more than 1/2 teaspoon, though, and use the real thing, not a synthetic flavouring. I like the other flavourings too, especially when the apricots need a little help, but you don’t need them for a delicious pie.
To judge the amount of sugar, start with a little less than you think you’ll need: mix the fruit and sugar and flavouring/s in a bowl, and then taste a slice of the fruit. Add more if needs be. You could also sprinkle the top crust with a little sugar if you like it sweeter.
- One recipe for double-crust short-crust pastry
- 1 kilo (2 pounds 3 ounces) fresh apricots, washed, dried and stoned
- 100-150g sugar (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup), depending on sweetness of the fruits
- 25g (3 packed tablespoons) cornflour (cornstarch)
Optional — use all or just some:
- ½ teaspoon real almond extract
- ½ teaspoon real vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kirsch
- ½ teaspoon Grand Marnier
To finish the top crust before baking:
- Egg wash made with 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk
- Make the short-crust, following the recipe here, and divide it into two disks, one a bit larger than the other. Wrap them separately in cling film and chill them.
- Use the larger disk of short-crust pastry for the bottom crust, and keep the rest aside for the top crust. Let it soften at room temperature just a little to make it easier to roll. Roll the bottom-crust pastry into a circle a little over an inch larger in diameter than your pie dish, to the thickness of a penny. Line the pie pan with the pastry, overlapping the edges slightly. Chill it while you prepare the fruit.
- Slice the apricots into slices about 1.5cm (½-inch) thick. In a large mixing bowl, mix them with 100g (½ cup) of sugar, and the flavourings if using. Taste a slice of the fruit, and add more sugar if needed.
- When you’re happy with the level of sweetness, add the cornflour/cornstarch and give the fruit a gentle stir.
- Pour the fruit and all the juices into the pastry-lined pie dish.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
7. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with a little water, to help the top-crust stick. Roll the second, smaller disk of pastry into a circle to form the top crust, again about the thickness of a penny, and large enough to cover the pie.
8. Press down the top crust onto the bottom crust to seal it, using your thumb or the tines of a fork. Trim off the excess pastry by running a sharp knife along the edges of the pie dish. Crimp the edges of the crust into a neat pattern if you like.
10. Make some decorative stem vents in the top crust. It’s handy to cut a cross in the middle to judge when the juices are bubbling (and this can also serve as a guide for slicing the pie later).
11. Heat the oven to 200C/400F. Adjust the oven racks so you can bake the pie on the middle rack, and place a foil-lined baking sheet on the shelf underneath to catch any juices. Bake at 200C/400F for half an hour, then rotate the pie in the oven and bake for another half-hour, or until the pie is a rich golden-brown on top, and the apricot juices are bubbling all the way to the middle, as well as the sides. If it looks like it’s browning too quickly, cover it lightly with foil.
12. Let the pie sit for about 20 minutes before slicing to give the juices time to settle. Serve warm, room temperature, or cool — with vanilla gelato, or whipped cream, or nothing else.
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More apricot stories and recipes on Crumbs on the Table:
More pie recipes on Crumbs on the Table: