Monday, June 21, 2010

Apricot Pie

This will be a short post with no photography, but it's urgent because apricot season is so short. I've written in previous posts about my childhood with apricots. Mom would take home buckets of "jam cots" (the bruised, bird-pecked, and overripe fruit) and would sometimes make pie from them as well. She would thicken the apricots with tapioca and the pie was fabulous with ice cream--sweet-tart and gooey with the tapioca.
So I was very excited about finally getting to make this pie: it comes early in the book, but we hadn't had apricot season yet, and I was not about to spend $25 on questionable Chilean apricots. So we bided our time. Now the apricots are coming in from Spain and southern France, and it's time to make pie! I'm sure the Blenheims are ready in California as well.
This is a pretty simple pie, and if the fruit is decent (mine was just decent, definitely not the apricots of my childhood), the pie will be yummy. I forgot the almond extract and liqueur, was not as careful about mixing the tapioca/sugar mix into the apricots as I might have, and didn't let the fruit sit long enough with the tapioca (we were in a big hurry to get the pie in the oven), but it still turned out great. We brought it to a backyard barbecue party involving Australians, Canadians, US Americans, and French people, and it was a hit! The children got to it before the adults did, and the pie looked pretty sad once we got to it, but everyone seemed to enjoy it nonetheless.
Here's the recipe. Hurry, make this before the season is over!

Fresh Apricot Pie

Pastry for a two-crust 9-inch pie: if your regular recipe does not involve sugar, add a couple of tablespoons.
2.5 lbs. apricots
1 T. Amaretto or other liqueur or orange juice
1/2 t. almond extract
3/4 c. (5.2 oz.) sugar
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) brown sugar
3 T. + 1 t. (1.3 oz.) tapioca
(about 1/4 c. ground almonds)

To top the pie:

Heat the oven to 500. Get out a 9-inch pie plate and a large baking sheet lined with foil. Put the baking sheet in the oven. Cut the apricots in half, remove the pits, and put in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the Amaretto and almond extract over. Very thoroughly mix together the sugars and tapioca and then very carefully mix that in with the apricots to avoid lumps. Let the fruit stand while you roll out the pastry. Roll out the bottom crust and line the pie plate with it, leaving a 1/4–inch overhang. If you have room in your fridge, roll out the top crust, put it on a cookie sheet, and refrigerate it until you’re ready. Now Maida is very concerned that the cut side of the fruit never touch the pastry. Mom and Aunt Fran never worried about that, but OK. (If you have some, put in a thin layer of ground almonds on the bottom crust. They will soak up some of the juice and add nice flavor.) So put in a layer of apricots cut side up, and then put in a second layer cut side down. If you need to put in a third layer, that should also be cut-side down. Pour the tapioca/sugar/apricot juice mixture carefully over the fruit. Now, if you still need to, roll out the top crust. Put it over the fruit. Seal the two crusts together and flute them. Brush the top crust with a bit of milk and sprinkle it with sugar. Cut some slits in the top crust and put the pie on the foil-lined sheet in the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 450 and bake for 10 minutes. After that, reduce the oven temperature to 375 and give it another 35-40 minutes or until the crust is nice and golden and the fruit is all bubbly. Yum. Cool the pie completely, then refrigerate and serve cold with ice cream. Feel happy that summer’s just about here.

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