Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Plums, and pies, and more plums

As I have mention before, this is my first year experiencing Northwest fruits. Cherries, peaches, strawberries, and need I mention blackberries and raspberries are all just better on this coast. It happens to be a fact. However, I was not ready for the plums. Not at all.  In all honesty, I didn't and don't really think of plums all that often.  I am sincerely sorry though, for not thinking of them more, because they are a highly highly underrated fruit. They may just be my favorite fruit.  What I also love about them is this year, they happen to grow in my back yard.  And by they I mean black plums, and zillions of them, happily ripening on the giant tree just outside the backdoor.  Happy plum season!

So now I have 11 gallons of pitted, sliced, and bagged black plums sitting in my freezer.  A dream come true.  As I have an abundance of plums, be prepared for an abundance of plum related recipes and posts. Even as I write this to tell you about the black plum lemon custard pie I made the other day, I have a spiced plum cake and a rustic plum tart baking in the oven.  Don't worry I won't bombard you. We'll take it one plum at a time...

I kinda made this one up on the spot.  The lemon filling is my lemon bar recipe with an additional egg, and the crust is my pie crust recipe with a little extra sugar, and the plums-- well, they are just the perfect company.

For the Crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

I used a food processor on pulse, which I find to be easier and more consistent than by hand mixing. Make sure you use ice cold refrigerator butter and DO NOT over mix.  Dough should be crumbling and hard to roll. Chill before rolling.

For the filling:
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice (Juice lemons in a juicer with rind on if possible, if not add 1.5 tablespoons of lemon zest)

For the plums: 
Quarter about 7 plums and macerate in lemon juice and a hearty sprinkling of sugar. The picture to the left is the amount I used for four pies and I still had some left over.  No worries though, they are delicious with yogurt or milk. Let sit while you make crust and filling.

Once you roll out the dough let rest in pie pan.  Make lemon custard filling by whisking together all ingredients until lightly fluffed.  Puncture small holes in bottom of crust and par-bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, fill bottom with plums, and lightly press into crust. Continue to bake for 5 minutes.  Then top with filling and bake for 30-35 minutes.  I found the plums still moved to the top of the pie, unlike I originally intended, but resulted in a nice color pattern.  If you want a layer of plums at the bottom I would suggest pressing them into the crust before baking, that way they don't roll over or rise to the top of the pie. Either way, I think you will be pleased with the color and texture of the black plums with lemon.  It is actually, and I don't want to brag, amazingly delicious.

As I mentioned I made four pies, three of which made their way to a rehearsal dinner party, and the other was cobbled without hesitation by my co-workers and roommates. With the amount of plums I have laying around I am almost positive I will be baking this pie again. In fact, I am entered into a pie contest in West Seattle at the end of October so you never know.  Until then stay tuned for plum cakes, tarts, and breads... Seriously, happy happy plum season!

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