Serves: 8 to 10 Makes: one 9-inch pie
Prep Time: 30 minutes + chilling time | Cook Time: 50 minutes
photo credit: Jessica Yager
In this season of graduations, I’m celebrating a commencement of another kind — the launch of a cookbook by a former student. The fact that she got it done, that she made her dream a reality, makes me want to throw my hat in the air!
Lisa walked into my food writing class a year and a half ago with the idea of turning her love of apricots into a book. She didn’t want to create just a recipe book, though. She wanted to tell the story of the vanishing orchards of the Santa Clara Valley, how this “Valley of the Heart’s Delight,” which once produced more apricots than any other region in the world, became the Silicon Valley. And she wanted to do it through the prism of her own experience growing up there with a garden full of fruit trees.
In order to get the book just right, Lisa decided to publish it herself. She put together a team — no, a village! — of neighbors, friends, colleagues, and professionals in the food world (my job was “consulting editor,” which basically meant prodding her across the finish line). She enlisted her talented daughter-in-law to shoot the food photos. She went to farmers’ markets and apricot festivals to collect stories and recipes. She culled the best recipes from her collection and made sure she had dishes for all year round, using fresh apricots as well as dried ones and preserves. She blogged about her adventures and built an audience. She stuck with it (while working full-time as an urban planner) and now she has the beautiful result to hold in her hands.
I highly recommend you get a copy to hold in your hands, too. For a taste, here’s Lisa’s recipe for Crumb-topped Apricot Pie. It’s unpretentious, sunny, and luscious. Just like For the Love of Apricots.
To buy a copy of Lisa’s book, click here
pastry for a single-crust pie
flour for rolling out dough
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch kosher salt
2 pounds fresh, ripe apricots, halved and pitted (about 6 cups)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Prepare the pastry dough. Preheat the oven to 400°F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with a little flour. Gently roll out the dough into a 13-inch round with uniform thickness. Ease the dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the excess dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhanging dough under, leaving ½ inch above the pan and decoratively crimp the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
To make the crumb topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat, then stir in the brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, and salt. Remove from the heat. Let the mixture cool until firm enough to crumble, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the filling, mix the apricots, flour, sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl until evenly blended. Fill the cold pie shell with the apricot mixture. Sprinkle the topping over the apricot mixture. Set the pie on the foil-lined baking sheet (to catch drips) and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking until the top is golden and firm to the touch, 40 to 50 minutes longer.
Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool to room temperature so the juices thicken. Cut into wedges and serve.