28 September 2018

GRANDMA'S PLUM PIE

This is one of those old-fashioned, rustic pies you savour with a small cup of very strong coffee, enjoying every bite. It really is what comfort food, especially dessert, is all about. The pie dough is very tender and soft, and the filling is ever so slightly tangy, preserving the essence of the plum flavour. Topped with just a dash of icing sugar, giving it the balance it needs. It is best served completely chilled, but it is perfectly understandable if you savour it still warm from the oven, it is the bakers' right, after all.


Ingredients
For the pie dough
250 grams plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
100 grams light brown sugar
100 grams unsalted butter, cold
50 grams sour cream
1 small free-range egg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
½ teaspoon ground ginger
For the filling
800 grams fresh plums, stones removed
100 grams light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dark rum


Preparation
To start off this wonderful pie, remove the stones from all the plums, then roughly chop them, place them in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sprinkle brown sugar all over them, and let them macerate for 30 minutes or so, while you make the pie dough. The pie dough is quite simple, yet full of warm, autumnal flavours, with just a hint of bright orange flavour. Sift together the flour with the baking powder and salt, and set it aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, brown sugar, egg, and the spices, then set that bowl in the refrigerator. Take the cold butter, dice it into small pieces, and then add them to the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, mix the butter into the flour until thoroughly blended. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the egg and sour cream mixture, and quickly make a dough, without handling it too much, so the butter does not start to melt. Wrap the dough into cling film, and place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
While the dough is firming up, make the flavourful plum filling. Place the pot over medium-high heat, and let it come to a boil. Add the lemon juice, and let the plums cook away for 25 minutes, stirring often, until all of the liquid the fruit released has evaporated, and the plums are starting to cook down into a lovely jam. You do not want to make a firm filling, so if your plums have cooked into a soft jam after only 20 minutes, it is perfectly fine. It is important that the liquid has evaporated, so it doesn't soak the pie dough. Once cooked, remove them to one side, add the rum, and let the filling cool down.
When the dough is chilled and ready, and the plums have cooled down, prepare to assemble the pie. Divide the pie dough into two equal parts, either by weighing them or just by eye, and roll each piece between two sheets of baking parchment. One thing to keep in mind - the dough is very soft, be patient with it.
Line a small square baking tin (18x18 cm) with baking parchment, then transfer one of the dough squares into the bottom of the tin. Press it down lightly, and use a fork to poke holes all over it. Gently spread all of the filling over the dough, then top it with the other piece of the dough. Again, poke holes all over the top piece of the dough, and bake it immediately in a preheated oven, at 200°C (400°F), for 20-25 minutes. Let the pie cool down completely, slice it up, dust liberally with icing sugar, and serve with strong coffee. Yields 9 rich servings.

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