I quite like a fruit pie; I really like a “slab” fruit pie (because: the corners); and I love a slab pie filled with naturally sour fruits. Rhubarb and gooseberries are the obvious choice for fans of seasonal British fruit – and, as it happens, 800–900g of either substitute perfectly in today’s first recipe without any other changes. However, there’s something about an apricot pie that sucks me in, largely because of that fruit’s transformation from mellow and sometimes dull when raw to always tart once cooked. The mix of burnt peach, basil, pistachio and burrata, meanwhile, feels like peak summer on a plate; the perfumed fruit and herbs relax so effortlessly into cold, creamy, fresh cheese. Indeed, it is something you’ll most likely want to eat if the weather matches, or your mind is in holiday mode.
Cherry and apricot slab pie (pictured above)
I’ve added cherries for their dramatic colour and sweet flavour that pairs neatly with the cooked apricots, without diverting attention from the desired sourness. A note on the pastry – they might seem a bit onerous, but each of the three (three!) refrigeration steps is important: to create a “short” not chewy pastry; to ensure the buttery dough is easy to handle; and to make sure that the butter doesn’t melt when first put in the oven. Please do follow them. This works particularly well in a 30cm x 20cm x 3cm baking tin.
Prep 40 min
Macerate 20 min
Chill 2 hr 30 min
Cook 45 min
430g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
200g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g icing sugar
½ tsp flaky sea salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp cold milk, plus a little extra as a wash
700g apricots, pitted and quartered
250g cherries, pitted
100g golden caster sugar
120g ground almonds
2 tbsp demerara sugar
Creme fraiche, to serve
Rub (or pulse) the flour, butter, icing sugar and salt into a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the vinegar and cold milk, and press into a ball. Divide the pastry into two not-quite-equal pieces, push into rectangles about 3cm thick, then wrap both and refrigerate for at least an hour, and ideally longer.
The pastry is very buttery and can be tricky to handle, so roll out between two sheets of baking paper: the smaller one so it’s the same size as your tin (this will be the lid), the other big enough to line the base and sides, and both to 2–3mm thick. You’ll be able to break off bits that are not in the right shape and place them where they should be as you go. Refrigerate for at least an hour (again).
Mix the fruit and caster sugar in a bowl and leave to macerate. After 20 minutes, add half the ground almonds, stir and set to one side.
Butter the baking tin, dust with flour, then line the tin with the larger pastry sheet. Use a knife to trim the pastry so it’s flush with the top of the tin, using the excess to patch up any holes or thinner areas. Sprinkle the base with the remaining ground almonds, then tip in the filling, ensuring it’s evenly distributed. Brush the edges of the pastry base with milk, then place the lid on top, pressing down firmly to seal. Trim any overhang, brush with milk, then sprinkle liberally with demerara sugar. Refrigerate one final time for at least 30 minutes (the pastry needs to be cold and the oven fully to temperature).
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put the baking tin on a larger sheet (to catch any spilled juices) and bake for 45 minutes, until the pastry is hard and golden, with some of the fruit bubbling through. If after 35–40 minutes the pie is looking very bronzed, turn down the heat to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, but do keep it in for the full amount of time. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving with big dollops of creme fraiche.
Burrata with burnt peaches and basil
A low-effort, high-reward assembly, this works well as a starter or a meze-style dish to graze on lazily. The peaches need to be ripe enough to be flavourful, but not so ripe that they’re mushy and can’t be grilled.
Prep 20 min
Cook 5 min
Serves 2 (scales up well to serve 4, 6 or more)
2 flat peaches or 1 large white peach, pitted and quartered
4–5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6–8 basil leaves, large leaves roughly torn
20g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Juice of ¼ lemon
Flaky sea salt and ground black pepper
Set a griddle pan or heavy-bottomed frying pan over a high heat and warm for three to four minutes.
Brush the peach flesh with a little oil, then lay in the (near-smoking) hot pan and leave to colour for two to three minutes. Use tongs to turn the peach segments and char any other cut surfaces. Transfer to a chopping board, leave to cool a little, then chop into 1–2cm dice.
Put the diced peach in a large bowl. Sprinkle in the basil, add three tablespoons of olive oil, the pistachios, lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt and a couple of grinds of pepper, and mix well.
Put the burrata in the centre of a plate, use a sharp knife or scissors to open it up, then spread it out so the creamy centre oozes out. Spoon the peach mixture on the top, drizzle over the remaining oil and serve.