An Evening of Firsts: Nectarine Pie with Candied Ginger and Crunchy Topping

Two firsts happened tonight: my first cooking project in my new New York apartment (sans garbage disposal) and my first pie. Well, ok I won’t lie: a long time ago I made a pumpkin pie, but I was heavily drugged and living in a nudist colony so it doesn’t count. And besides, this is the first pie I’ve made for you!

The pie recipe I used comes from Bon Apetit (posted on Epicurious): “Apricot Pie with Candied Ginger and Crunchy Topping.” However, because Whole Foods was out of apricots (they weren’t getting raises)(see post below), I decided to sub nectarines. This proved to be a good choice.

Since the link will take you to the recipe proper, I won’t go into the details. I’ll simply share with you the experience of making my nectarine pie.

First, of course, comes the crust. To make the crust, we mixed flour and sugar and salt and butter with our fingers until it resembled coarse meal.

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Then we added 3 Tbs of ice water and stirred until moist clumps formed. Nothing says home cooking like “moist clumps.”

Once there were moist clumps, we gathered the dough into a ball, flattened into a disc, and wrapped in plastic wrap.

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It went into the fridge and I watched “Family Guy” on Fox. This show, I must concede, is terribly funny. The humor is very much in sync with my own, except more polished. Plus it’s animated. I’d be a lot funnier if I were animated.

Now then, when it came out of the fridge it was time to roll it out. This part scared me. I was scared my pie dough would tear.

“Please don’t tear,” I begged. “Little Timmy really likes pie.”

I figured inventing a destitute handicapped pie-hungry fictional character would compel the pie not to tear. I was correct:

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Then came scary part number two: transferring the pie from the counter to the pie tin. How do we do this again?

Luckily, I recalled a Martha Stewart Living where she addressed the very issue. You roll the flattened dough on to the pin and then unroll it into the pie tin.

Here is one of those cooking moments where it’s a leap of faith, and you have to act with confidence. Like when you flip an omelette in the air and catch it on its way down. I can’t do that yet. But it’s the same idea. You have to dive in and do it and it will work out. And that’s the philosophy that got me to this point:

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Look how successful I was! Little Timmy gurgled with pride.

Then I crimped the pie crust. This part was fun. I’m the Crimp Pimp:

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Went into the fridge for another half an hour and I watched another “Family Guy.” When it came out, I put tin foil in and beans and popped it into a 375 oven for 20 minutes:

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Why do we do this? I guess this pre-baking is necessary maybe so the fruit juice doesn’t mush up the bottom? Anyone have an answer?

Anyway, when that came out I worked on the “crunchy topping.” The crunch topping is particularly delicious. In goes Grape nuts, brown sugar, flour, toasted slivered almonds*, cinnamon, ground ginger, salt and butter.

*I starred the almonds because at Whole Foods I figured my chances of finding already slivered almonds was minute, and I was ready to give up on the almonds altogether when, upon purchasing the candied ginger for the filling, I saw slivered almonds on the shelf below it. Talk about Serendipity!**

**Serendipity is an ice cream parlor that makes rockin’ frozen hot chocolate.

***It’s also a movie with John Cusack.

Here’s the topping stuff in the bowl, pre mixing:

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Then we simply toss the nectarines (or apricots, if you follow the original recipe) with sugar, crystallized ginger, cornstarch and almond extract, add it to the warm pie shell, and sprinkle on the topping and it will look like this:

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Pop in the oven for 45 minutes and go watch “Six Feet Under” on rerun. I missed the episode before this, so I wish I would have seen the fallout between Brenda and Joe(?). Did he walk in on her and Nate? I got that impression from the “scenes from last week.”

While watching, the most beautiful smell filled the air. The combination of butter, ginger, cinnamon and nectarine perfumed the apartment and I wondered if neighbors walking down the hall would be seduced by teh smell and tear into my apartment completely naked. (That didn’t happen).

What did happen, is the pie came out of the oven looking lovely:

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And then the waiting. To quote Tom Petty: “Don’t come around here no more.” Oops, I mean: “The waiting is the hardest part.”

I did some cleaning, some reading, some more TV watching and one hour later I returned to the pie and cut a slice:

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May not look perfect, but it was heaven on a plate. I gobbled up every last crumb. Which is probably a good impetus to return to the gym tomorrow. In any case, it was a happy first pie experience and a great way to break-in my new kitchen. Here’s to many more tasty treats to come! And here’s to Little Timmy getting better. It’s so sad how he doesn’t have a mouth…

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6 comments

  1. Pie looks amazing, I like the Grape Nuts in the topping. Yum!

    As far as Six Feet Under goes… you assumed correctly, Joe walked in on Nate and Brenda in bed. She totally screwed the whole thing up, Joe seemed like a really nice guy, and she and Nate had agreed that they’d stop sleeping together because it wasn’t good for either of them. Ah well, didn’t last long. I haven’t seen this week’s episode yet, got caught up in the Olympics last night.

  2. you are correct about the beans~that’s called “blind baking” and it prevents the crust from being undercooked and mushy on the bottom. Usually called for with fruit pies because of all the juices.

  3. To add to avril’s explanation about the beans: they’re simply used as a pie crust weight – they keep the pie crust bottom from popping up while pre-baking. There are real pie crust weights out there, but why pay for them when beans are cheap and can be used over and over again?

  4. I am just delurking to say that I really like the image of you sitting in your fridge, watching TV: “Went into the fridge for another half an hour and I watched another “Family Guy.” hee hee

    I’m from Atlanta too, am going back for Labor Day and wanted to thank you for reminding me of the Flying Biscuit. Will be going there in your honor. Happy Cooking!