One of the grand epiphanies I had when I started cooking and baking was that I never needed to be a slave to my cravings anymore. That is not to say I never had to give in to them, oh no. On the contrary, it meant I never had to be worried that my cravings would go unfulfilled (unless we are talking about a craving for chanterelle mushrooms, fresh figs, or Le Pain Quotidien's hazelnut praline spread, then I may just be out of luck). It's actually quite liberating, for someone who had never felt the joy of creating one's own sustenance before, to feel that all of a sudden so much gustatory satiation was within your grasp. The possibilities were, and still are, endless.
To this day, it never fails to thrill me when I feel like having something, say Dutch oliebollen or a particular salad I had at a restaurant, and I think -- "maybe I can try making it...". And then I do. And then I realize that nothing (well, almost nothing) will ever be a restaurant or a plane ticket away. That my friends, in my book at least, is a very compelling reason to get into the kitchen and start cooking!
So when the weather turned gloomy over here, and I had a sudden yearning for some nice, warm, bursting with fruits pie, satisfaction was not long in coming.
Peach Nectarine and Blueberry Pie
- 3/4 quantity of this pie dough
- 2 peaches, pitted and sliced into eighths
- 4 nectarines, pitted and sliced into eights
- 100 grams blueberries
- 2 tablespoons + 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- juice from half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper. When rolling, turn dough over frequently and lift the parchment so it doesn’t form creases. When about 1/8 inch thick place in the fridge to chill for about 20-30 minutes.
- Mix all the fruit in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, and the lemon juice. Set aside.
- Mix the 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch with the 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside.
- After the pie dough has chilled, place in a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the edges. Return to the fridge.
- Gather the rest of the dough and roll our once more. Using a 2-inch diameter round cookie cutter cut the rest of the dough into circles**.
- Take the pie pan out of the fridge. Sprinkle the cornstarch/sugar mixture on the base of the crust and arrange the fruit on top of this. Dot fruit with the butter. Line the border of the pie with the dough circles, overlapping them as you go. Press edges to seal.
- Brush the pastry with the egg and sprinkle demerara sugar evenly over both the dough and fruit.
- Place the pie pan on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 400F over for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
Blueberries are not something commonly grown in these parts but I had found these local blueberries (grown in our mountain region) in the market before. They are not as sweet as the bigger blueberries grown in the Western world and I sometimes suspect that they are a strain of wild berries and not actual blueberries as we know them. In any case, they added a nice tartness to the pie that I liked.
There is something about fruit pie -- the fragrance it gives your home while it's baking, the warm fruit, the buttery-flaky crust, the whole domestic goddess feeling you get while taking it to the table -- that just sets you in a circle of comfort and home-and-hearth good spirits. Most welcome at any time of the year, but most especially when the weather is glum.
So if you, like me not too long ago, are a bit apprehensive in the kitchen, why don't you give it a go? I promise it's not too hard, and can actually be loads of fun. And one day soon fulfilling you cravings will be as easy as, pardon the horrible pun, pie!
**You may have extra pastry circles. You can use them to make jam tarts -- just place a bit of jam in the center of the circle, fold over, and press edges together with the tines of a fork to seal. Bake until the crust is golden. If you won't use them immediately, just stack them with parchment in between the circles, seal in a ziplock bag, and freeze. Then you can have fresh jam tarts anytime you have a craving ;)