I think this has been the summer of free produce for me. I've been mooching off relatives' gardens for strawberries and raspberries, and this week I got a whole bunch of plums from my parents who went a little overboard on the produce purchasing at Costco. Unfortunately I'm the only raw-plum eater at my house and there was no way I was going to eat them all before they went bad, so I decided I'd put them in a pie and see if my husband would eat them too. So I did, and he did, and we liked it. A lot.
I was really glad that this turned out, since neither of us knew quite what to expect. I had never had plum pie before and didn't have a recipe, so I found two that I liked the sound of, combined them into one, and the result was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. This pie kind of tasted like Christmas to me with all the spice. If you're not as much of a spice fan as I am you could certainly cut back on it a little, but I thought it was just right. The texture was kind of like peach pie, while the taste was almost like a spiced version of rhubarb pie without the funny aftertaste that I sometimes get from rhubarb.
I used the basic eating plum that is available in most grocery stores, but I'll bet local plums off a neighbor's tree would be delicious. Or you could even experiment with combining different plum varieties in one pie. Maybe three kinds of plums to make the three-plum pie that I've heard of on Pushing Daisies. Mmm. Anyway, here's the recipe. Enjoy!
Ooh, don't these plums look pretty?
Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust pie (my family's absolute favorite recipe is below)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup saltine crumbs
1 1/2 pounds fresh plums, pitted and sliced into fairly thick slices (I used 6 plums)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated orange peel or orange extract
3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and crumbs. Line a 9-inch pie pan with bottom crust; sprinkle with brown sugar mixture and pack gently. Cover with plums. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange peel; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over plums. Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie. Make small cuts or slits in top crust; place over plums. Seal and flute edges. Brush the top of the crust with milk (avoiding edges), and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 25 minutes more or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.
Aunt Helen's Pie Crust:
2 c. flour
1 c. shortening
1 t. (skimpy) salt
1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. water
Cut shortening into flour using pastry blender or two butter knives until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. In small bowl, mix together the 1/3 c. flour, water, and salt with fork until smooth (this is called the slurry, for you vocabulary nuts out there). Add slowly to first mixture, blending with fork, just until it all sticks together. Drop dough on lightly floured board; knead 3-5 times, or until dough just forms a smoother ball. Do not overknead or crust will be tough. Roll out as desired.