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Sep 17, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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By the Book: Emily and Melissa Elsen’s Plumble Pie

August 9th 11:08am, 2014

 

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After I gave birth to my second child, I realized that, while my feet had grown a full shoe size, I would never grow an extra set of hands. To keep an eye on my boys, I put them to work in the kitchen, and one son has especially taken to the world of pastry.

Since this month’s By the Book is all about pie, I figured Dough Boy might like to lend a hand. To sweeten the deal, I let him choose which recipe to prepare among those I’d marked in The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon recipes from the celebrated Brooklyn pie shop by Emily Elsen and Melissa Elsen. Would it be nectarine-blueberry (delightful fruit combo), paprika peach (love me some spice), muskmelon chiffon (melon juice, saltine crust – cool), Concord grape (because it grows in my backyard) or Plumble Pie (plum pie baked in bowls)? He chose the last.

 

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The recipe calls for an all-butter crust, which the Elgen sisters note is the signature and most popular crust at their popular pie shop. It holds a hint of tangy cider vinegar and is easy to put together. The sisters do a fine job explaining exactly how to incorporate the ice water-vinegar mixture into the dry ingredients so the dough is neither wet nor overkneaded. Since the Elgens recommend refrigerating the dough overnight, we made the oat topping next and refrigerated both as well so it would be ready when we needed it the following day.

 

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One reason the Plumble Pie recipe interested me was because aromatic bitters was listed among the ingredients. Bitters are made from numerous roots, barks, fruit peels, seeds and other plant matter infused in high-proof alcohol. Just a couple dashes of Old Fashion bitters adds complex flavor to the three ground spices – ginger, cardamom and allspice – that are tossed with the sliced plums.

 

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Instead of a pie pan, bowls come into play for this dessert. My bowls varied in depth, so it was a tad tricky decide how much to roll out each piece of dough so it fit inside its respective bowl.

 

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Once I ladled the filling inside and added the crumbled oat topping, my stomach started growling. It was a matter of tick-tock, watch the clock…

 

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The results were spectacular. The buttery crust was incredibly light and flaky. The cooked filling offered ripe plum flavors with thick fruit juice oozing about. The whole thing begged to be topped with vanilla ice cream.

Distance prevents me from visiting Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie shop on a regular basis. Luckily, the Elgin sisters have given me the tools to duplicate their unique pies at home. And since my butter-loving boy is a teenager, I’ve a lot of parenting yet to do. Ergo, we’ll be baking together often from this book.

Plumble Pie
Makes 4 4-inch or 2 6-inch bowls

All-butter Crust (Recipe follows)
2 cups Oat Crumble (Recipe follows)
2 lbs. plums, sliced (4 to 5 cups)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. potato starch
¼ tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
2 dashes Old Fashion bitters

• Divide the dough into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on the size of bowls being used. Roll each piece into a disc 2 to 3 inches larger than the oven-safe bowl. Grease the bowls well and fit the dough inside; crimp the edges as desired. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
• Position the oven racks in the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• Combine the plums, lemon juice, granulated and brown sugars, potato starch, allspice, ginger, cardamom and bitters in a large bowl and mix well.
• Place the bowls on the rimmed baking sheet and distribute the plum filling evenly among them. Top with the oat crumble. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees, move the pies to the center oven rack, and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 30 to 35 minutes longer.
• Allow the bowls to cool completely on a wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
• The pie will keep refrigerated 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days.

All-butter Crust
Makes 1 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pie

1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. granulated sugar
¼ lb. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup cold water
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
½ cup ice

• Stir the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend).
• Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or your hand (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow.

Oat Crumble Topping
2 cups

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup rolled oats
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, at room temperature

• Stir together all the ingredients except the butter in a large bowl. Sprinkle in the butter pieces and toss to coat. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is chunky but not homogenous.
• Chill for at least 15 minutes before using.

What is your favorite pie shop and why? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book!

By Ligaya Figueras

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20 Responses to “By the Book: Emily and Melissa Elsen’s Plumble Pie”

  1. Jillian Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Pie Oh My! Jane made the most beautiful pies which we used as center pieces for a wedding last fall! So quaint, so tasty!

  2. Zoe Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I’m going to cheat a little bit… Sugarfire Smokehouse’s pie shake. Because it’s a shake with a piece of pie mixed in. I think it’s pretty clear why it’s my favorite!

  3. Melissa V Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Pie Oh My… mainly because they have this chocolate coconut pie every now and then. And I go crazy. :)

  4. Dani Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Sugaree is by far the best pie shop on the planet. It’s tradition in our house to have her piesfpr holidays, birthdays and most weekends. The apple crumb pie is heaven on earth.

  5. Marlene Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Have not been to any of the pie shops in St. Louis. No need — my husband bakes the best pies. So I’ll have to say “my kitchen.”

  6. Katie Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Winslow’s Home! General store meets delicious upscale food meets `1

  7. Jon Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    A Slice of Pie in Rolla…everything is great, especially sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving. Has been. while…Hope they are still there!

  8. Kelly Turner Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    The sweet-tart combo of strawberry and rhubarb at Sugaree Baking Company calls my name.

  9. Kathy Ziegenmier Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Winshlow Home makes some pretty awesome pie, one of which was featured in this month’s Sauce magazine.

  10. Sharon Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    This doesn’t really answer the question you asked, but when I was 19 I had a slice of raisin cream pie at a small town corner cafe in northern Iowa. I’d never even heard of raisin cream pie before that. I’d lived a pie-sheltered life. Best slice of pie. Ever. And now, I make my uncle-in-law raisin cream pie. It isn’t nearly as good as that cafe in Iowa, but it’s a labor of love nevertheless.

  11. Katie Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    (meets toddler sitting on my laptop) — delicious upscale food meets casual, plaid-shirt atmosphere meets general store meets mouth watering made-from-scratch pie.

  12. Isabel biesterfeld Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Why, Jennifer’s pharmacy, of course.

  13. Jennifer Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    My favorite “pie shop” is my Aunt June’s kitchen. She makes pumpkin and pecan pies for our family every Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are delicious!

  14. Anne hopcraft Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Hoosier Mama

  15. Maurice Says:
    August 15th, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Favorite Pie Shop….Lubeley’s Bakery.
    But favorite pie is homemade Peach Pie with fresh peaches picked at Eckerts. Local and fresh!

  16. Linda Says:
    August 16th, 2014 at 12:02 am

    Josephine’s in Godfrey, Ill. I make great “regular” pies, everyone says. But Josephine’s pies are an elegant treat!

  17. Kathy Schneider Says:
    August 16th, 2014 at 8:27 am

    While I agree with Isabel about Jennifer’s Pharmacy…I believe Sappington House in Crestwood has fantastic home made pies! Their lemon meringue is my favorite!

  18. April Morrison Says:
    August 16th, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Winslow ‘ s Home makes some of the tastiest pies….the crust is divine!

  19. Dennis Waller Says:
    August 17th, 2014 at 8:42 am

    MILLS APPLE ORCHARD. They only offer apple. It’s the best apple pie I’ve ever had.

  20. gina Says:
    August 17th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    my favorite pie place is the loveless cafe down in nashville! i went to undergrad at vanderbilt, and a trip to the loveless was always a nice break from campus life, so maybe that’s why i love it! my best friend sent me their cookbook shortly after i moved to st. louis a few years ago, but it unfortunately lacks their secret biscuit recipe.

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