In Praise Of Rain & Stone Fruit Pies (Recipe Included!)
The summer rains have come to northern Arizona, the blessed and beautiful, life giving rains. And to celebrate, I’ve been baking fruit pies—peach pies, berry pies, and, my favorite, stone fruit pies.
The dancer Martha Graham said about creation “you have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you.” Just as the monsoons come once a year, so comes my desire to concoct pies. Certainly the pies are seasonal, since the fruit is seasonal. But it’s only in the summer when pie making has about it the feeling of true creativity.
Recipes are beside the point. Of course there’s the general list of ingredients (although this might vary depending on what is on hand) but the amounts are always subject to impulse. The whole thing is a lot like writing or painting, or doing anything creative—you stay connected to instinct, to itch and whim, notion and fancy, and you follow it, finding what you need along the way. You make things up, all the while keeping in mind what it is you’re trying to make. A fruit pie.
For years my mother has asked me for a recipe, but I never had one to begin with. Maybe it’s about time I jot something down.
So here it is, such as it is.
Stone Fruit Pie
Begin by making a crust. Here is a simple, good one.
1 stick of butter
1 cup of four
Pinch of salt
1/8th cup of cold water
Mix the butter, flour, and salt very well with a fork or with your fingers, if you’d like. Add the cold water and mix only as much as you must (the less you mix it once you add the water, the flakier your crust will be). Form the pastry into a ball, refrigerate for an hour, and then roll into a thin crust and place in your pie pan, waffling the edges with your fingers.
For the filling . . .
3 cups fruit (Use what fruit you have on hand, in amounts that please you. Any stone fruit will do. Peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries. They should add up to approximately 3 cups, but no one’s counting.)
2 teaspoons of tapioca (Instant or regular—I’ve found either works perfectly well.)
2 teaspoons cinnamon, give or take
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ lemon or ½ orange, juiced
½ cup sugar or coconut sugar or honey
Pinch of salt
Peel the fruit, or don’t (I usually peel the peaches and the nectarines), pit and slice into a large bowl. Stir in tapioca, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon or orange juice, a pinch of salt and either some sugar, coconut sugar, or honey, whatever you choose. Personally, I prefer honey. Your pie will be sweet enough, and you’ll still be able to taste the true flavor of the fruit. The tartness will remain intact, providing a more complex palate than if the pie were mired in sugar. Refrigerate for one hour and then pour into the crust.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Then add the topping.
The topping . . .
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4th cup flour
1/3rd cup honey or sugar
½ cup coconut oil
Cinnamon to taste
Pinch of salt
Mix the ingredients together to create a crumbly texture. Then sprinkle the mixture on top of the hot fruit.
Cook the pie for another 20 minutes. Fruit should bubble and the topping should be golden.