Italian Plum Pie

italian plum pie | apt 2b baking co
italian plum pie | apt 2b baking co
italian plum pie-0610.jpg
italian plum pie | apt 2b baking co
italian plum pie | apt 2b baking co
italian plum pie-0613.jpg
italian plum pie | apt 2b baking co

There's a new kid in town, and by kid in town, I mean almost 12 week old maniac puppy in my house. I posted on instagram yesterday that he was 10 weeks old, but when we actually sat down with a calendar this morning we realized he was 12 weeks, not even close to 10.

We have been in a weird time vacuum this summer- busy and traveling at first, and now trying to settle back into a new routine and trying to teach this puppy to sleep in his new home and be a good citizen. NYC is a loud smelly place and our sweet pup is learning to love it more and more everyday, even if it is overwhelming - a 20 minute hang on the stoop is stimulating enough to send him straight to a 2 hour nap. Me too pup, me too. This city is tiring. 

Some friends of ours, I've mentioned a couple of times, decamped Brooklyn for the Pacific Northwest and moved to a house with a hearty rhubarb plant, alongside an Italian plum, and hazelnut tree. Pete joked that their new yard makes it's own trailmix, a very Northwestern ideal.

Apparently that plum tree is an excellent producer of the most beautiful deep-blue purple plums with orangey centers, and our generous pal sent me a box full that I sadly haven't had much time to play with because of aforementioned pup that requires hourly monitoring...But yesterday I said enough is enough - I need to bake something with these plums! As I sliced them open I smiled  at the perfectly contrasting colors and was so happy to be hanging in the kitchen with a peacefully snoozing pup in the other room. 

It was a bit slap-dash as all of my pies are these days. I use my new fave easiest pie crust ever, but swapped in 1/2 rye flour for the all purpose, and employed my general prefered fruit pie formula - adjusted it a bit to suit the fruit. 

Italian Plum Pie

makes one, 9-inch pie

Plum pie is my very favorite summer-to-fall transitional treat. Italian plums are so perfectly suited to cooking and baking that I can't resist them at the market everytime I go. They pair well with both bright citrusy flavors and deeper toastier ones like whole grain flours and warm spices like cinnamon.  In a moment of Four and Twenty Blackbirds inspiration, I shook a bottle of cardamom bitters into the filling which ended up being a totally delicious move, which I highly recommend if you happen to keep a bottle in your bar. If not, a bit of ground cardamom is great too.

2 1/2 times Easiest Pie Crust Ever, split into two discs (sub 1/2 of the all purpose flour for rye)

2 lbs (900g) Italian plums

1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar

seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup (30g) flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

5 shakes/dashes cardamom bitters or 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 400º F and place a rack in the bottom of the oven. In a large bowl combine the sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Use your fingers to rub the and seeds into the sugar until well combined and fragrant. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, and salt.

Pit and cut the plums into quarters. Add them to the bowl but don't stir quite yet.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into a roughly 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick and place it into a 9-inch pie pan. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the pie. Roll out the other piece of dough into a roughly 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick.

Add the bitters to the filling, then gently stir the filling ingredients together. Fill the pie shell, press gently to compact the fruit, and top with the second crust.

Trim the edges so they are even, then crimp them together. Alternately, cut the second crust into 1 1/2 to 2-inch strips and weave a lattice top.

Slide the whole pie into the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes or until the crust is very firm. When you are ready to bake, carefully and gently brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a healthy dose of coarse sugar.

Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 45-55 minutes or until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble. Cool before slicing.

Spelt Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns

Spelt Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns | Apt. 2B Baking Co.
Spelt Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns | Apt. 2B Baking Co.
Spelt Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns | Apt. 2B Baking Co.

Simply put, Fika is the Swedish word that means "to drink coffee," but the word represents a much warmer tradition. To Fika really means to truly take time for a break in your day to, to breathe and rest, to have a coffee and a little sweet (or savory), maybe catch up with a friend or loved one. It's a such lovely idea that I am trying to work into my life right now as holiday craziness seems to start earlier and earlier every year...

Fika is also the name of the adorable cookbook that my college pal, Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall released earlier this year. Fika is full of traditional and less traditional sweet and savory coffee and tea time treats (and illustrations by Johanna!). It also has a puffy cover, that my cat is cozily napping on as I write this post. 

Now let's talk buns! One of the most well known and loved Fika treats are cinnamon buns. Anna and Johanna's version of this classic recipe are swirled with a mixture of cardamom and cinnamon which is such a lovely and warming combination, perfect for this time of year. They are also totally beautiful and impressive looking! 

And one more thing!

THANK YOU all SO MUCH for your warm reception to my book, Sweeter Off the Vine. I can't wait to share more with you in the coming months. Pre-order links are in the sidebar! Thank you, thank you!

 

Spelt Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns

makes about 30 small buns

adapted from Fika by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall

The original recipe calls for 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, but I couldn't resist adding in some spelt flour instead. I also swapped in brown sugar for the filling and added a bit of salt, because sugar always needs just a bit of salt. There are a lot of ways to form and shape these buns, you can even make loaves, but I loved the swirls and twirls of the of the technique I used. I linked to a post within the recipe so you can see the shaping method for yourself, rather than try to explain it, trust me, it is much easier to see something like this than try to explain it :) 

Dough

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups spelt flour

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup light brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

3 teaspoons ground cardamom

pinch salt

Topping

1 egg beaten, for egg wash

pearl sugar or sliced almonds

To make the dough: Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the milk and heat until warmed through. In a small bowl combine the yeast with a couple of tablespoons of the warm milk mixture. Let sit until foamy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt. Add the yeast mixture and remaining milk. Stir until a dough forms. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, 3-5 minutes. The dough should be tacky and soft, but not super sticky. If the dough is sticky knead in a bit more flour. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Make the filling and assemble: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir the filling ingredients in a small bowl until well combined and smooth.

Divide the dough in half and roll one half of the dough to a rectangle roughly 11x17 inches with the long edge facing you. Spread half of the filling over half of the dough (lengthwise), making sure to spread it all of the way to the edges and fold the dough in half lengthwise. Slice the dough into 15-18 strips. Then check out this post on Pantry Confidential featuring Johanna Kindvall herself to see how she shapes the buns, scroll down towards the end of the post. Trust me, pictures are worth a thousand words here...Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cover the buns with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise for 45 minutes or until puffy. Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

After the buns have risen, brush them with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar or sliced almonds. Bake the buns for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Serve warm or cool the rolls completely, then store them in an airtight container in the freezer. 

Spelt Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns | Apt. 2B Baking Co.