Appetites: The perfect homemade pie

Plum Ginger Pie
Plum-ginger pie by Amy Thielen.
Courtesy of Amy Thielen

We've complicated pie too much, says Amy Thielen.

Thielen, author of "The New Midwestern Table," says it's time we get back to basics. And the fruits and flavors of summer are perfect for homemade pie.

She joined All Things Considered host Tom Crann to talk all things pie, and she shared a recipe for plum-ginger pie.

Use the audio player above to hear some tips for a great pie.

Plum-Ginger Pie

Makes one 9- or 10-inch double-crust pie

Pastry Crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

9 ounces (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, coldish, cut into cubes

5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Plum Filling:

6 cups sliced purple plums (preferably black prune plums, but any kind works), about 8 large

1 heaping cup sugar

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger root

7 tablespoons flour


Cream, for brushing

Sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry blender until the largest pieces are the size of small peas and the mixture begins to clump on the pastry blender. Shuffle through the mixture with your hands, pinching chunks of fat to flatten them, and squeeze a clump of dough; if processed enough, it should hold the imprint of your fingers.

Add five tablespoons of icy water to the flour and mix swiftly with a fork. Pinch a clump of dough in your hands: If it feels moist and clumps together easily, it's probably hydrated enough. If it feels really crumbly, add another tablespoon or two of ice water until you can form a baseball-size clump of dough, packing it on as if you were making a snowball.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a flat disk. Wrap both disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to two days. If it gets really cold, remove it from the refrigerator thirty minutes before you're ready to roll out the dough, and let it sit at room temperature to soften.

For the filling: In a bowl, toss the plums with the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, ginger, flour, and mix until combined.

Dust a worktop and rolling pin with flour. Roll out one dough disk a little less than 1/4 inch thick, about 14 inches in diameter. Fold the dough in half and transfer it to a 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Unfold. Press the dough into the corners, leaving the overhang for now. Refrigerate the first crust while you roll out the second disk of dough.

Remove the bottom crust from the refrigerator and fill it with the plum mixture. Top with the second piece of dough, and trim both to a 1⁄2-inch overhang around the pie. Tuck the overhang into a roll and crimp the edge, pressing down to hook some of the dough over the edge of the dish, holding the pie. Cut a hole in the center of the pie, as well as some decorative vents.

Brush the top of the pie with cream, dust it with sugar, and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.

Cover the edges of the pie with foil and continue to bake until the center juices bubble and thicken and the crust turns amber brown, 20 to 30 minutes more, or about 1 hour and 10 minutes total.

Let the pie cool until it is just warm to the touch before slicing and serving, preferably with ice cream.

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