Summer fruit means time for crumb pie

Melissa Clark / New York Times News Service /


Published Jul 9, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Summer isn’t just fruit-pie season in my kitchen. It’s crumb-pie season, too. Because while in theory one could put a crumbly brown-sugar topping on any kind of pie, tangy, high-acid summer fruit pies work best.

Think about it. Have you ever seen a crumb topping on a wintry pecan or chocolate cream pie? The one-two sugar punch could actually floor you (or at least make your teeth hurt).

Berries, sour cherries, apricots, peaches and plums, however, make an ideal bed for a blanket of crumbles.

Plum Chutney Crumb Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie.

Crust:

170 g all-purpose flour (about 11⁄4 C), more as needed for rolling out dough

1 g fine sea salt (about 1⁄4 tsp)

10 TBS unsalted butter, preferably a high-fat, European-style butter, chilled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces

Filling:

2 TBS cider vinegar

70 g light brown sugar (about 1⁄3 C)

1 star anise pod

1 cinnamon stick (2 inches long)

1 sm sprig fresh rosemary

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 g black pepper (about 1⁄2 tsp)

2 g ground cardamom (about 1⁄2 tsp)

1 g fine sea salt (about 1⁄4 tsp)

3 lbs ripe plums, pitted and sliced (about 6 C)

100 g granulated sugar (about 1⁄2 C), more to taste

1 tsp freshly grated orange zest

25 g instant tapioca (about 2 TBS)

Crumb topping:

90 g all-purpose flour (about 3⁄4 C)

100 g dark brown sugar (about 1⁄2 C)

5 g cinnamon (about 1 tsp)

Pinch ground cloves

1 g fine sea salt (about 1⁄4 tsp)

5 TBS unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Make the crust: In a food processor, briefly pulse together flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (3 to 5 one-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 6 tablespoons, pulsing occasionally until mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Make the chutney: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, brown sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick, rosemary sprig, ginger root, pepper, cardamom and salt to a simmer, stirring to help dissolve sugar. Add a third of the plums and let mixture simmer until thickened, stirring frequently, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then discard star anise, cinnamon stick and rosemary.

Meanwhile, toss remaining plums, granulated sugar, orange zest and tapioca in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. (If your plums are tart, add more sugar to taste.)

Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin. Roll out dough to fit a 9-inch pie pan. Fold dough in half and transfer to pie pan. Carefully press crust into pan. Return pie to fridge for 20 minutes. While crust chills, heat oven to 400 degrees.

Gently press foil into pie crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Transfer to oven and bake for 18 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until crust is a light golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, prepare the crumb topping: In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Using your hands, work in butter until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated into butter and large, marble-size clumps form when pinched. Let sit in refrigerator while assembling pie.

Mix chutney into uncooked plums. Pour filling into crust and cover with crumb topping. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and place pie on a baking sheet on middle rack in oven. Bake pie for 1 to 11⁄2 hours or until fruit is bubbling and top is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream if you like.