Thursday, July 14, 2011
Apricot, Plum and Strawberry Slab Pie at Hood Canal
We are currently enjoying a marvelous visit at Hood Canal (an hour and half southwest of Seattle) with our dear friends from Australia, Chris and Cheryl, and their amazing kids Nick, Carly and Lucy. Originally from Seattle, our friends have a lovely cabin on the water and every July they come back to visit family and friends here. I can’t remember how many years our families have been gathering here... at least twelve or thirteen? Our children have grown up together visiting the canal house and every summer we can’t wait for this time together.
Our days are spent boating, water skiing, wake boarding, shooting BB guns, swimming, lounging in the sun, inner tubing, shooting baskets, paddling in the kayoo (half kayak, half canoe), reading trashy magazines and chatting about the past year. There is always so much to catch up on! Seals pop up to cautiously watch us, folks wave from their boats as they float by, and a generally lazy atmosphere takes over as the day progresses. Late afternoons involve cocktails and nibbles, and this leads into delicious dinners on the barbecue, bottles of wine and more talking and laughing. We spend evenings around the fire pit, roasting s’mores and watching the sun set over the mountains. Sometimes we watch a movie on an outdoor screen, with the canal and disappearing sun as our backdrop.
While the sun is dropping behind the mountains, we start thinking about pie and ice cream. Every year I bake a couple of pies to bring with us, and at this point I don’t think we’d be allowed down the driveway if we didn’t come bearing pies! This year we have a fun crowd at the canal with Chris and Cheryl’s extended family and an 88th birthday to be celebrated, which means lots of pie and special memories.
Knowing we have a big group for dessert, I think about the slab pies I’ve been seeing lately. These are pies baked on a rimmed baking sheet that can feed a larger crowd than one baked in a traditional pie plate. Now, what kind of pie to make? Ah, deciding this is one of summer’s joys when we can choose from peaches, cherries, plums, apricots, berries and more. My kitchen is filled with the scent of strawberries from our berry stand and plums and apricots from the farmer’s market. I see a pie forming!
Apricot, Plum and Strawberry Slab Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
2/3 cups ice water
2 pounds fresh apricots, sliced into eighths
2 pounds plums, sliced into eighths
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced into halves or quarters depending upon their size
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Cream for brushing on crust
Cover the bottom and sides of a 10x15 inch rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and sugar together to combine. Cut one stick of butter into tablespoon sizes and add to the mix. Pulse until just incorporated. Repeat with remaining three sticks of butter. The mixture should resemble a coarse meal. With the machine running, add 2/3 cup ice water. Pulse until the dough is crumbly and holds together when squeezed. If necessary, add more ice water one tablespoon at a time. Do not overmix.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to make a smooth dough. Divide in half. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll the first ball of dough into a rectangle just larger than the baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet by lifting and flipping the parchment paper onto the pan and peel off the paper. Press dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill until ready to use. On another sheet of parchment paper, roll out the second ball of dough. Place this in the refrigerator to chill (can lay on top of the baking pan).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the fruit, sugar and cornstarch. Let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the refrigerator and spoon the fruit and juices onto the bottom crust and spread evenly. Flip the top crust onto the top and peel off the paper. Press the edges of the top and bottom crust together and crimp. Brush the top of the pie with cream and cut slits on the top of the pie to vent. Place the pan in the oven on top of two pieces of foil spread out (to catch any drips) and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the top is a bit golden and the juices are bubbling thickly through the steam vents. Cool for one hour before serving.