After the weekend's resoundingly successful Apricot Cake made using admittedly subpar apricots, I decided to try my luck with another apricot recipe. This time I chose an Apricot Fold-Over Pie from Deborah Madison's Seasonal Fruit Desserts.
There's a real ease to the recipes that Madison has collected in Seasonal Fruit Recipes. It's one of the more forgiving baking books that I've encountered—no hard and fast rules, just suggestions and encouragement to make the recipes your own. This apricot pie is a prefect example of the casualness that Madison approaches desserts with. First, there's the dough, which is rolled out to make a free form crust. If you prefer your pies to be more pedigreed you can trim the edges and make it even, but if you're okay with a more rustic looking tart all you need to do is drape it into the pan and fold the extra lengths over the filling. This brings us to the filling. The ratio of fruit to sugar is entirely up to you—if you prefer a filling that is more tart use less sugar, but if sweetness is more to your liking add as much as you'd like. You can also customize the spices that flavor the filling—choose from any combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom.
Laying out all of these options gives the baker room to be creative, and freedom from the sometimes nerve-racking exactness that too often accompany baking projects. It might sound silly, but being able to relax while baking makes a huge difference in the final product.
My finished apricot fold-over pie came out of the oven beautifully browned and endearingly rustic. The middling apricots that I used for the filling tasted wonderful once they were baked since I flavored them with my ideal ratio of sugar and spices before they went into the oven.
I suppose that Madison's approach to baking is an intuitive one, almost more similar to cooking than baking, one that has more to do with getting comfortable with technique and ingredients than sticking to an exact recipe, and one that very well might improve your baking skills.
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Apricot Fold-Over Pie
- makes one deep 9-inch pie (8 servings) -
- Chilled Pastry for Pies or Galettes (recipe follows)
- 8 to 10 cups pitted and quartered apricots (about 2 1/5 pounds)
- 1/3 to 2/3 cup organic sugar, plus extra for the crust
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander or freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
- 5 to 6 tablespoons ice water
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Have the dough made, chilled, and ready to roll.
Toss the apricots with the sugar, flour, and spices and let stand while you roll out the dough.
Roll the chilled dough into a large circle, roughly 1/8-inch thick. Drape it into a deep 9-inch pie plate, allowing the edges, which will be considerable, to hang over. For a more even appearance, trim the edges with a knife or scissors. Add the fruit and fold the dough over the top. Brush the dough with melted butter, pouring any excess into the fruit, then sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of sugar.
Set the folded pie plate on a cookie sheet to catch any juices. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 375°F and bake until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is nicely colored, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool before serving.
- makes about 20 ounces, enough for 1 large or 2 smaller galettes, a double crust pie, or a fold-over pie -
Mix the flours, salt, and sugar together in a bowl. Cut in the butter by hand or use a mixer with the paddle attachment, leaving some of the chunks the size of uncooked chickpeas. (If using a food processor, pulse until the butter is broken up.)
Mix the egg yolk and vinegar with 1/4 cup of the ice water. Sprinkle the liquid over the flour mixture by tablespoonfuls and toss until you can bring the dough together with your hands. Add the last one or two tablespoons of water if needed. (If using a food processor, don't take the dough all the way, but stop when it begins to look tacky and starts clumping together.)
Divide the dough into 2 pieces if making smaller galettes or leave in 1 large piece. Wrap in plastic wrap, press the dough into a disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or longer. Chilled dough is easier to roll out, easier to handle, and absorbs less extra flour, keeping the texture light and flaky, as it should be. The dough can be made a day or two ahead. Wrapped well, it can be frozen for up to month.