Blenheim Apricot Season
“When the match went out the night was blacker than before. Charles moved slowly on and struck another match, and on and struck another. He searched the road for signs. At last he gave up. His right hand rose and he threw the hatchet far off into the field. He walked rapidly away toward the pinched lights of the village.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
It’s almost the 4th of July. We celebrate our America. I think back to a year ago, before the presidential election. I was filled with hope, so many promises. So many words. We have no way of knowing what’s fake news and what’s not. We see and believe whatever suits us personally. I suppose it’s always been this way. The stories are stark, the future is portrayed as dim. I am ambivalent about our country. But not about pie, the quintessential American dessert. I was raised by a pie and quilt maker. The older I get, the more I understand. There’s not much that can be done to change the narrative but one can make the best of what we’ve got. It’s almost the 4th of July and we will have pie.
There is an intensely flavored, bright orange apricot hiding inside the pale exterior of a Blenheim apricot. Their season is short, three, sometimes four weeks. The Blenheim apricot is both sweet and tart and like other apricots, softens from the inside out. If the temperature soars to the high 90’s, the harvest ends. It is then that the pale colored fruit burns and drops from the tree. Blenheim’s don’t ship or store well and can be elusive to find. They are grown for the dried apricot market. Only during the height of the summer harvest is the highly perishable Blenheim sold as a fresh apricot. I came home from Bertuccio’s, in Hollister, with fifteen pounds of Blenheim’s and made lots of jam and this splendid Old Fashioned Apricot Pie.
This is a deep dish pie, fully loaded with as many fresh apricots as possible. The flakey pie crust is just the buttery container that keeps it all together. I used almost 8 cups of sliced fruit, 6-7 cups will make a fabulous pie. To make sure the Blenheim apricot flavor shines, sugar is at the minimum in this summer recipe. Although picky daughter thinks this might be the best pie ever, adding another half cup of sugar makes for a sweeter pie. Serving the Old Fashioned Apricot Pie with a scoop of ice cream would be a very good thing.
The recipe for Old Fashioned Apricot Pie filling is adapted from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. This is an old fashioned cookbook that I can’t say enough good things about. There are no photos to guide your recipe choice or help with techniques. There are line drawings which are helpful as well as a joyful part of this cookbook that encompasses all baked goods with roots in America and beyond. When I’m in a hurry or just don’t want to bother with an internet search, I turn to this cookbook. If you haven’t discovered Marion Cunningham’s perfect recipes, The Fannie Farmer Baking Book is a good place to begin.
For the pie crust, I used my favorite recipe, it makes a 9” pie. It’s half butter, half shortening, that way there’s a buttery taste and a flakey crust. I use the food processor, a large mixing bowl and a marble work surface to make the pie crust recipe. Since there is lots of clean up involved I make three individual batches of the pie crust recipe. I make each batch separately, use one, and freeze the other two batches for later. The clean up doesn’t seem so overwhelming, but what’s even better is that making the next pie just got easier. Use either store bought or homemade pie crust, either way summer is a good time to make an all American fruit pie. All the summer fruit is in season now, if you hesitate too long it will be gone.
| Old Fashioned Apricot Pie, adapted from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book
|1 recipe||double crust pie dough, chilled|
|6-8C||pitted, thinly sliced apricots, Blenhiem’s are best|
|1T||cream or half-half|
- Cover a large sheet pan with parchment. Heat the oven to 425°.
- Remove one piece of pie dough from the refrigerator. With a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface roll out the bottom pie crust dough approximately 1/8” thick. Measure, cut and line a 9” pie pan with the dough. Gently push the dough down into the contours of the pan without stretching the dough. Stretching will cause the dough to shrink during baking. Trim the dough flush with the outer rim of the pie pan. Chill the bottom crust while making the fruit filling.
- In a large bowl combine the sliced apricots, sugar, tapioca and lemon juice. Fold the ingredients together until the apricots are covered with sugar and tapioca.
- With a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface roll out the top pie crust into a 10” circle which is approximately 1/8” thick. Once the top crust is ready, scoop the apricots and any juice into the bottom crust. Dot the top of the apricots with the butter. Place the top crust over the apricot filled pie pan. Trim any overhanging dough to 1/2-1” wider than the edge of the pie pan. Fold overhanging dough under the bottom crust, making a tripe layered edge. Crimp or flute the edge of the pie crust. Brush the cream across the crust and crimped edge. Lightly, sprinkle sugar on top of the crust. Cut 5 steam vents in the crust.
- Place the pie on the prepared sheet pan and bake the pie at 425° for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and continue baking for 30-35 minutes until crust has browned and the apricot juices are bubbling up through the vents in the crust. Check the pie during baking and cover the edge of the crust with foil if it is browning too quickly. Cool thoroughly before serving.
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