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 400ยบ 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.

Vegan Strawberry Vanilla Custard Tart

vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co
vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co
vegan strawberry custard tart | apt 2b baking co
vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co
vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co

Every year I cross my fingers and hope there are local strawberries for my birthday, which usually falls on Memorial Day weekend. So when the strawberries showed up at the Greenmarket right on time this year, I wanted to make something super special. I turned to a recipe that I have had dog-eared for over a year - Amy Chaplin's Strawberry Vanilla  Custard Tart from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen.

I haven't made a ton of creamy vegan tarts like this one, and it was a super fun little project that made good use of the first gorgeous local berries. The oat, barley, and spelt crust comes together quickly in a food processor and is patted in the pan, then while the crust cools, the filling is briefly cooked on the stovetop before being chilled and topped with a big 'ol pile of  fresh strawberries - it's a perfect Springy treat. In the photo from the book, Amy's tart is covered with the tiniest  tristar strawberries. Tristars are my absolute favorite too, but they don't show up at the market until later in the summer here in NY. This doesn't really need to be said, but use the tastiest, cutest berries you can find here.


EVENT ALERT! I'll be at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, June 18th with the folks from Food Book Fair, signing copies of Sweeter off the Vine and handing out treat samples. Come say hi!


Vegan Strawberry Vanilla Custard Tart

from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin

makes one 8 or 9-inch tart

This tart was originally made with a glaze that the strawberries are tossed in before arranging them on the tart, but I skipped it in favor of sliced strawberries tossed with the tiniest bit of honey. Also, Amy suggests using a high speed blender to mix the filling, but I used my food processor which worked fine. I just made sure to soak the nuts the full 6 hours and gave them a good long mix to ensure the mixture was as smooth as possible. I also used honey from my friends at Old Blue Raw Honey instead of the maple and brown rice syrups the recipe originally called for, which I know isn't strictly vegan so choose your own adventure there.

Crust

3/4 cup rolled oats

3 tablespoons barley flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup spelt flour

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup (I used honey)

Filling

3/4 cup raw macadamia nuts, soaked 2-6 hours in 2 cups water

1 vanilla bean, split

1/4 cup brown rice syrup (I used 3 tablespoons honey)

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I used 2 tablespoons honey)

2 teaspoons agar flakes

pinch sea salt

2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

Topping

2 pints strawberries, washed, sliced, and lightly sweetened

Make the Crust

Preheat oven to 350ยบF and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the sides.

Add the oats, barley flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl of a food processor; blend until the oats are ground. Mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla together. Pulse in the spelt flour and salt, then with the processor running, drizzle in the coconut oil mixture and mix until the flour is moistened.

Press the crust onto the bottom and sides of the prepared pan, about 1 1/4-inches up the sides.

Bake the crust for 16-18 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside while you make the filling.

Make the Filling

Drain macadamias and place in a blender along with the 2 cups water. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes.

Add the macadamia milk to a medium saucepan along with the vanilla bean seeds, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agar, and salt. Whisk until the mixture comes to a simmer. Then loosely cover and simmer for 15 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes or so.

In a small bowl combine the arrowroot with 2 teaspoons of water then whisk it into the simmering custard. Remove the mixture from the heat then let it cool for 10 minutes. Whisk to smooth, then pour into the prepared crust. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes on the counter (until it stops steaming), then chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Just before serving unmold the tart then top it with a pile of lightly sweetened, sliced strawberries. Enjoy immediately. 

vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co