Even if you’re not exactly a pie person, I think everyone should make a big fat juicy fruit pie at least once every summer. Pie has never really been my thing, so I get it if the mere mention of a double crust gets your stress hormones flowing. Let’s just say I haven’t completely mastered the art myself. The little niceties like rolling it out to a perfect circle and neatly fluting the edges elude me. But the wonderful thing that I’ve discovered about pie is that it doesn’t have to be artful to be amazingly delicious. As long as the crust is flaky, and the fruit is ripe and piled high, it usually turns out just great. And the experience of a homemade pie made with farm stand fruit in the middle of summer is not to be missed. So let’s get over ourselves and start baking.
There’s something intoxicating and a little bit exotic abut apricots. They’re less juicy but more intensely flavored than peaches and, if given the choice, I’ll always go for the apricot. I piled them into the pie shell as high as I could to compensate for that disappointing shrinkage that happens in the oven. I only added a dash of sugar, some cornstarch to thicken the juices, and lemon juice to the fruit, that’s all it needs. I did play with my basic crust recipe this time, though. I added shortening along with the butter. I really like what shortening does to a crust; it gives it a softer and more buttery (ironically!) texture.
But that reminds me of another issue I have with pies. I’m not so good at waiting for things to cool before I slice them. If you try to slice a pie while it’s still warm the crust will most likely fall apart and the fruit will ooze in to fill the void left when you remove it. Oh well. Like I said, delicious isn’t necessarily tied to perfection when it comes to pies. If you can possibly manage it, though, let the pie cool and then refrigerate it for an hour or two. You will be rewarded with much better looking slices. Personally I can’t resist a slice hot out of the oven.
- 2 pounds of sliced apricots (or enough to fill your pie dish with a heaping pile)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract (optional)
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup ( 1 and a half sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut in pieces
- 1/4 cup shortening (I used butter flavor Crisco)
- 1/4 cup ice water
- Set oven to 375F.
- Start by making the crust. Pulse the flour and salt a few times in a food processor to combine. You can also do this by hand with a whisk. Add the cold chunks of butter and shortening to the bowl and pulse about 20 times until the mixture is grainy.
- Add the ice water, a little at a time, while continuing to pulse, until the dough just comes together when you pinch it between your fingers. Stop the machine to check it. NOTE: you will not need all of the water.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and bring it together into a ball. Add a little more flour if the dough is too wet. Cut the ball in half, form two disks, and wrap each one in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for 2 hours (or overnight) before rolling it out.
- Toss the apricot slices with the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.
- Roll out one of the disks for the bottom crust and fit into your pie plate. Fill the crust with the apricots.
- Roll out the other disk to make the top crust and cover the fruit. Seal the edges with the back of a fork. Cut small slits in the center to allow the steam to escape during baking.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is just beginning to turn golden around the edges and the juices a bubbling.
- Let cool before cutting
I’m a fall girl, and I’m already yearning for cool weather, but I have to say, if it has to be summer, fresh apricot pie is certainly one of the better perks of the season.