I am officially back in school. Yesterday, I finished my first day of classes which, this semester, includes taking two seminars and teaching two sections of first year writing. I think both are off to a pretty good start. I’m also trying to settle into a semester schedule that leaves enough time in between reading and grading for things I really like but have been neglecting lately like cooking and baking and knitting and this blog. One step at a time . . .
I was feeling a little sad that summer was ending until we got hit this week with temps in the 90s and Aidan and I found ourselves hiding out in our air-conditioned bedroom like it was a fall out shelter in a nuclear crisis. Good riddance. I didn’t like that heat in July, and I like it even less now that I have to walk to campus in the morning and teach in sweaty clothes. (Which, by the way, is not a look that impresses the students.) Luckily, a cold front moved in over night and now we’re sitting pretty in the mid-60s with some storms coming our way for the rest of the weekend. And while its supposed to get sunny and warm again during the week, it’s not supposed to climb anywhere near the sweltering temps we had this week. I have my fingers crossed that this was the last burst of heat we’ll get this year, because I have bread and mac ‘n cheese and soup on the brain, and this weather has really been interfering with my desires.
Anyway, before the semester officially started, I spent two weeks in various orientations and beginning-of-the-school-year events, which included at one point a department potluck. I’m apparently becoming a little bit of a church lady (without so much of the church part) because potlucks make me feel a little competitive, and after thinking a lot about it I decided to make a blueberry peach slab pie. It seemed appropriate since, as Aidan pointed out, the orange and blue of the fruit mirrored SU’s school colors. Lord knows I’ve got school spirit in spades. The idea of the slab pie is pretty basic–it’s just a pie made on a baking sheet instead of a pie pan so that it can be cut into squares and serve more people, making it potluck perfect. Based on some tips I found online, I went ahead and made 1 1/5 of a regular pie crust recipe and the same amount of filling I would make for a regular pie. This is what I learned:
- That trying to roll pie dough into a long rectangle sounds a lot easier than it actually is in practice.
- That 150% of a standard pie dough recipe is, in fact, no where close to enough dough to make a slab pie in 15×9 baking sheet. Doubling the recipe would have been better.
- Admitting defeat at 1:00a when you’re filling is already made and you know you will have no other time to bake anything before the potluck is not an option.
- If you throw what pie crust you do have down onto the baking sheet, throw the filling in the middle, make a half-hearted attempt to do something with the edges, and call it a rustic tart, people will not know your dessert was really a screw up. (Unless you tell them, which I did.)
- Brushing the edges of your crust with milk during the last ten minutes of baking really does produce a beautifully browned crust.
- Peach and blueberry makes for a great filling combination.
- Basic comfort foods really make people happy.
I forgot to take a picture of it until we were headed out the door, so this is the only shot of the “rustic tart” we got. But its a good thing we stopped to snap a picture when we did because all we brought home was an empty plate. Which is to say that it was well received, even though it was ugly. I suppose the fact that it tasted good is what really matters. Oh, and the fact that I walked away from the potluck with my pride intact.
Blueberry Peach Plan-B “Rustic Tart”
This ended up being about a 12×8 oval–maybe even a bit bigger. A recipe for a double pie crust would be sufficient for replicating what I made here, since I ended up throwing away all of the extra dough I had made. I’ve been using this all-butter pie crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and have been really pleased with the results. When I was making this, I transferred the dough directly to the pan by gently folding it over itself, but you might consider rolling the dough out on parchment paper so that it’s easier to transfer on and off the pan.
For the filling:
- 2/3 c sugar
- 2 tbsp quick cooking tapioca
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 5 cups of sliced peaches
- 1 pint of blueberries
In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, tapioca, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the fruit, stir together until the fruit is coated and then let the mixture stand for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Roll the pie crust out into a large oval about 2″ wider than you want the final tart to be. Transfer to the baking sheet. Pour the filling onto the crust and spread evenly, leaving two inches of crust around the edges without any filling on it. Fold the edge of the crust over and onto itself in some kind of semi-decorative fashion. (This is where calling it “rustic” comes in handy. It makes the ugly seem intentional.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Lightly brush the crust with milk and then return to the oven for another ten minutes. Serve to people who will be impressed by the fact that you didn’t buy a pre-made pie crust.