It’s that time of year when, like clockwork, we begin fretting about summer’s imminent end. Worries abound: we’ve not hiked enough, or eaten sufficient amounts of ice cream, or spent all that many evenings sitting on porches as we’d intended. Fall is coming, and with it, cool breezes and school for the little ones and no more fresh berries and the need for heavy coats.
But I say, fret not! For one, I’ve long held that things do not end until we let them, which means that my summer will very possibly last well into the first month of autumn. Easy for me to say, I realize, since California offers up summery produce even as the calendar pages turn and our warmest days are likely still to come. But people, I’m from Michigan. You can trust me when I tell you that this strategy works.
And even more, let’s recall the summer days still to come. It’s not over until it’s over! Look at the market stalls; they’re still overflowing! Peaches and tomatoes abound, and what’s better than that? (Figs, maybe, but we’ve got those, too.) I’m scheming about a blueberry cake, and there’s at least one more batch of ice cream in my future—I’ve seen a recipe that calls for toasted bread crumbs, and I obviously can’t get that out of my mind. I am also looking forward to that whole what-do-we-do-with-all-this-zucchini thing, since I find that problem a welcome one and have yet to make zucchini bread this year. There’s so very much left to enjoy.
This weekend, while wandering along the coastline at Ocean Beach, I saw a little boy about three years old run to the water’s edge with a mass of wet sand in his hand. He threw it at the water with all his might and, as the icy waves splashed his feet, he turned back toward his family and, with a look of sheer joy on his face, tensed every muscle in his body, opened his mouth as wide as it would go and let out a high-pitched scream at the top of his tiny lungs.
I couldn’t stop smiling as we continued on, and I hope that look on his face stays etched in my memory. Because if you ask me, that right there is it. That is how I want to take in summertime. It’s how I want to live my life: in awe of the world stretched out before me, thrilled by the fact that I get to hold this mud in my hands, shocked that living can be this good.
And pie, I think, is a quick route to that kind of bliss for the days in which we need some help getting there. Especially an unfussy one like this, with just one simple crust and, at center stage, the perfection of peaches and blueberries baked up together. It’s ideal paired with ice cream and a warm summer evening.
I hope you’ll enjoy a slice in these remaining summer days, your soul shouting joyfully all the while.
Single-Crust Peach & Blueberry Pie
Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Ripe
This cookbook is one of my favorites, particularly when it comes to making delicious treats with summer produce. This recipe’s original intent was to deal with juicy plums that make soggy the bottom crust of a pie, but the part that caught my attention was the idea of a thick, shortbread-like crust casually draped over ripe fruits. Rather than plums, I opted for peaches and blueberries. They are at their best right now, and I adore how they collapse into one another under pastries and crumbles. I adapted the pastry to use a bit of rye flour, which I found really lovely, but you can certainly use all-purpose flour instead.
Serves: about 6
FOR THE PASTRY
2/3 cup rye flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Milk, for brushing
Superfine sugar, for sprinkling
FOR THE FILLING
4 medium ripe peaches, about 1 pound
10 ounces blueberries
2-3 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
First, make the pastry. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix gently to combine. Remove the pastry dough from the bowl and roll it into a ball on a well-floured work surface. Knead the dough for a minute or two, until smooth and soft. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8- to 10-inch round baking dish.
Cut the peaches in half and remove their pits. Slice the fruit into large pieces. Toss the peaches with the blueberries, sugar and cinnamon, and pour the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
On a floured surface, roll the chilled pastry into a circle just larger than your pan. Lift it carefully onto the pie, remove any excess pastry that hangs over the edges of the pan and, if you like, crimp the edges. (Nigel, delightful man that he is, says, “The crust is very short and it really doesn’t matter if it tears as you lower it over the fruit. Some of the juice will probably erupt through it as it cooks anyway. At least I hope so.”)
Brush the pastry lightly with milk and bake for about 40 minutes, until the pastry is the color of a pale biscuit. Dust the pie with superfine sugar and serve warm, preferably with ice cream.