Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Apricot-Cherry Slab Pie

Summer is a great time for pie - fresh fruit pies and cool cream pies. Since we've been gluten-free, I haven't really made too many of these great summer pies. I've made plenty of "cold weather" pies like pecan, pumpkin and apple, but had kind of forgotten about making pie for my family for no other reason than "just because" on a lazy warm afternoon. Until now.

People from all over are sharing photos and recipes of pie for a virtual pie party today. Shauna James Ahern from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef is hosting the event over on facebook and wrote this inspirational post last week about making, and eating, pie.

After I read Shauna's post, I decided I needed to participate and make a pie, too. I didn't want to miss out on the party!

I first thought I'd make a Nestle Tollhouse pie. I haven't had one in a long time and have been thinking about making one. I can't even remember the last time I ate one - it was either at a restaurant or made by my mom or an aunt. I changed my mind, though, and remembered the slab pie. (I promise I'll make a Tollhouse pie at some point and post it, though.)

I love making slab pies because they are huge and serve many people, so they are great for parties and gatherings - great for the Fourth of July. You can cut it up any way you want, and you can even *kind of* eat it with your fingers if you so desire.

I made my first slab pie many years ago when I saw the recipe for an apricot-cherry slab pie in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They have since published the recipe in their Our Best Recipes cookbook.

It's one of those pies that is great warm, especially with some vanilla ice cream on top, but (in my opinion) tastes even better the next day. It's an informal pie, and tastes perfectly delicious.

I've changed this recipe almost completely. Aside from making the crust gluten-free, the original recipe calls for canned fruit but there were such lovely fresh cherries and apricots in the store the other day, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to use fresh fruit.

Making a pie should not be frustrating. I repeat: It should not be frustrating. You need to enjoy it. Keep it simple. Put love into it. Don't let it intimidate you - the crust doesn't have to be hard. As Shauna says in her pie party post, use a mix or buy a frozen crust, whatever you choose, just make the pie.

But did I follow that advice when I started to work on my slab pie for the pie party? Noooo ...

I started out with the flour, choosing the blend I thought would taste best, and went on to cutting in the butter ... When we ate gluten, I made the best pie crusts. They were buttery, flaky, delicious. Some flour, some butter, some water, cut it, mix it, roll it. Good crust. This crust, however, is a little different. This crust uses some egg and some milk. And in my distractions while making the crust, I got careless and didn't use my head. I forgot that I was working with gluten-free grains and followed the liquid proportion exactly as written rather than adding just enough.

Complete disaster.

The pie crust dough couldn't be rolled. (And at this point I'm kicking myself for not taking a photo of it so you can see what I'm talking about, but I didn't think I was going to use it.) A gushy mess. I tried adding more starch and flour, to no avail. I wanted to cry. All that flour and butter, gone to waste. If I used it, I could probably make a good cobbler out of it. I was quite irritated with myself for being so careless ... and I was forgetting to have fun in the process.

Many deep breaths and an hour or so later, I decided those ingredients would not go to waste. I had put the mess in the refrigerator and pulled it back out. I took a little in my hands and pressed it thin. It was a dough, that might even work for a pie. I just wouldn't be able to roll it.

So, I pressed the dough into the pan, filled it and then had to flatten small pieces at a time and lay them on top of the fruit. (See the photos? It's pretty obvious!) Because I couldn't roll the dough, I also ran out for a large section in the middle of the pie (I had decided to lay pieces from both ends and work inward). See the large section that is smoother than the rest? That's it - I quickly grabbed some Pamela's bread mix and flour blend, poured some in a bowl, literally pinched off a bit of butter from a stick in the fridge, cut it in and then added a tad of water and made a dough - that I could roll - for the remaining gap.

So no, it's not the prettiest pie in the party. But it's good. It's really good. And the crust still worked out well in the taste and texture departments.

You see, keep it simple. Keep it fun. If it tastes good, that's all anyone cares about.

I'm not giving a projected prep time for this recipe, due to my mess described above. And I'm going to give you the crust recipe, with less liquid, because it's a really good crust for this pie. But use whatever crust you are comfortable with for this pie, or any pie. Keep the joy in it!

Bake time: 50 minutes to an hour
(If you are making your own crust, use whatever flours you wish, in the same proportions - these are the flours I chose to use and they made a great-tasting crust)
105 grams (3 3/4 oz.) almond flour
56 grams (2 oz.) sweet rice flour
29 grams (1 oz.) teff flour
96 grams (3 3/8 oz.) brown rice flour
28 grams (1 oz.) white rice flour
67 grams (2 3/8 oz.) tapioca starch
30 grams (1 oz.) potato starch
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and kept very cold
1 egg yolk

(I weighed the fruit after removing the pits)
1 lb. pitted and halved fresh cherries (I used dark cherries that were a sweeter variety but not too sweet)
1 1/2 pound fresh apricots, halved and quartered, then cut the quarters in half
1 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
3 tbsp. tapioca starch

(Optional: You can make a simple vanilla glaze with powdered sugar, milk and pure vanilla to drizzle over this pie. I think it tastes just as good without.)

Sift flours and salt together.

Cut butter into flour using a pastry cutter, or a food processor with large capacity.

Place egg yolk into a measuring cup and fill with milk to 1/4 cup total. Mix into flour/butter mixture and slowly add a little more milk at a time until you get dough the consistency you want. (NOTE: This is an estimate on my part based on the mess I describe above. This is how I'm doing it next time.)

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix cut fruit together with sugar and tapioca starch in a large bowl.

Take about 2/3 of the dough and roll it out to fit over edges of a 15x10x1-inch baking pan (jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with higher sides) and pat it into place. (Remember my dough wasn't the way it was supposed to be, so it's probably going to look different than yours.) Because my dough wasn't the consistency I wanted, I baked it for five minutes at this point before putting the fruit on top of it.

Spoon fruit over crust.

Roll out remaining dough and place it over fruit. Bring bottom crust over top crust and pinch edges together. Prick surface all over with a fork. Again, because my dough was different, I was piecing it together and had plenty of holes already, so didn't need to prick it with a fork.

Not the prettiest, as explained above. But it's the taste that matters!
Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes to an hour. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

It's equally good served warm, room temperature or cold. 

It's the just-right amount of sweetness and tartness. If you want it sweeter, serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy every bite!


  1. Gorgeous photos, Caneel! I love the fresh apricots and cherries scattered all about. And I didn't even notice the "wonky" crust until you pointed it out! This looks delicious!

  2. Thank you, Ginny. You're a sweetheart. :) It is delicious, though!

  3. I've never heard of slab pie. What a great idea! I'll be trying this type of pie in the very near future and linking back to you as my idea source.

    Thank you!

  4. Thanks, Cindy! I can't take the credit for the idea of a slab pie, though, since people thought of it before me. :)


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