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How to Make Nectarine-Blueberry Fruit Pie

Nectarine-Blueberry Pie

Pie. Fresh fruit pie. We all aspire to that perfect triangle of sweet summer perfection. But sometimes we fall flat in our goals. Sure part of the equation is the crust. Lard? Shortening? Butter? How cold? How crumbly? How to properly roll it out? There is room for endless debate. But the pastry is a debate I leave for another day. Because today I want to talk filling – specifically fruit filling for a perfect summer fruit pie.

First, let me set the stage. Perfect fruit pie is like porn; you know when you see it. You often sense it before you see it too. That’s because perfect fruit pie starts with a fresh-baked aroma. The next hint is a sugar-bejeweled crust, sparkling in the sunlight. Underneath that crust oozes a luscious filling – still tart enough to remind you of the fresh fruit that went into the crust in the first place.

Hit those few marks and there is a good shot that you are in the presence of a great piece of pie. It’s the simple beauty that gives great pie away. But it’s the complexity of taste and texture that makes it sublime.

I wish I could say there was a secret to perfect fruit pie. But in truth, there are just a few simple rules that even non-bakers like me can master. And it all starts with the fruit. Almost any summer fruit can attain perfection in a fruit pie. Just make sure that fruit is perfectly ripe because no cook in the world can reproduce that splendid ratio of perky sweetness and subtle tartness that the warm summer sunshine imparts into really good fruit.

Nectarine HalfHow to Make Fruit Pie Filling

So today I want to talk about the fruit filling because even the best crust can’t hide inferior fruit. Many recipes call for “ripe, but firm fruit”, which leads many of us to choose under-ripe fruit. Unripened fruit is the main nemesis in a poor fruit pie. Undeveloped fruit can be tough, it can also lack the necessary pectin. On top of that, the sugars may not have developed properly. Many cooks panic and add more sugar. By then the game is lost. A complex balance will be replaced by a cloying sweetness.

Once you’ve chosen properly ripened fruit, it’s time to turn your attention to the consistency of the filling. As the fruit cooks, it releases moisture. If the moisture is not handled properly you can get a watery pie that will surely disappoint. A small amount of thickener is the answer to this problem. The three most common are flour, tapioca, and cornstarch.

Of the three, I generally prefer cornstarch. It sets up quickly and easily. You don’t need much to do the job and it results in a cleaner, clearer looking filling. Flour tends to make the filling murky and I don’t like the coarse texture of tapioca.

The final bit of advice I can offer in your quest towards a perfect slice-o-pie is simply this: please make sure you cook the pie long enough. The crust should be brown, really brown. The filling should be noticeably (even audibly) bubbling. It should be oozing out of the vents. It takes at least an hour to properly activate the thickening agent. If the edge of the crust starts to get too brown tent it with foil. Do not be tempted to take the pie out of the oven just because it looks pretty and smells good after 45 minutes.

Once you do take it out of the oven – stop and wait! Don’t get coaxed by the aroma to shave off a slice for the cook. That pie is not done. There’s a reason your Gramma cooled her pies on the window ledge. Cooling is a vital step and the final key to perfect texture – both in the crust and in the filling. It’s okay to enjoy that pie while still a little warm, but please let it cool two or three hours before slicing. You can always, always reheat, if a la mode is your goal.

Lastly, eat that pie within 24 hours, and don’t store it in the refrigerator even for one minute. Promise me that much. GREG

Nectarine-Blueberry PieNectarine-Blueberry PieHow to Make Nectarine-Blueberry Fruit Pie

Nectarine-Blueberry Pie

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Adapted from Rose Levy BeranbaumPublished
Nectarine-Blueberry Pie

Ingredients

  • pie pastry (enough for a top and bottom crust of a 9‑inch pie)
  • 8 cup sliced necatarines (unpeeled)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (rinsed and dried)
  • 1 unknown egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water (as egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Directions

Prepare the bottom crust: On a floured pastry cloth or between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the bottom crust 1/8 inch thick or less and large enough to cut a 12-inch circle. Transfer it to the pie pan. Trim the edge s to about ½‑inch overhang. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.

Make the filling: Place the sliced nectarines in a large bowl and sprinkle them with the lemon juice. Sprinkle on the sugar and salt and toss them gently to mix evenly. Allow to macerate for a minimum of 30 minutes and maximum of 1 hour.

Transfer the nectarines and their juices to a colander suspended over a bowl to capture the liquid. The mixture should exude between 3/4 and 1 cup of juice.

In a small saucepan (preferably lined with a nonstick surface), over medium-high heat, boil down this liquid to about ½ cup. Swirl the liquid but do not stir it. Allow it to cool.

Meanwhile, transfer the drained nectarines to a bowl and toss them with the lemon zest and cornstarch until all traces of the cornstarch have disappeared. Stir the vanilla into the cooled syrup and pour it over the nectarines, tossing gently. Transfer the nectarine mixture to the prepared bottom crust and top with blueberries.

Roll out the top crust large enough to cut a 12-inch circle.

Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water and place the top crust over the fruit. Tuck the overhang under the bottom crust border and press down all around the top to seal it. Crimp the border using a fork or your fingers and make about 5 evenly spaced 2‑inch slashes starting about 1 inch from the center and radiating toward the edge. Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour before baking to chill and relax the pastry. This will maintain flakiness and help to prevent distortion.

You may alternatively cut the top crust into 1 to 1 ½‑inch thick strips and make a lattice top, as I did in this example.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Set an oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating. Place a large piece of greased foil on top to catch bubbling juices.

Just before you put the pie in the oven brush the exposed pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Set the pie directly on the foil-topped baking stone and bake at least 50 minutes or until the juices bubble thickly through the slashes and the nectarines feel tender but not mushy when a cake tester or small knife is inserted through a slash. After 30 minutes, protect the edges from over-browning with a foil ring. Cool the pie on a rack for at least 3 hours before cutting.

Nectarine half appears courtesy of my partnership with ShutterStock.