I’m not really a big fan of plums, but this delicious spiced plum pie made my day! For me, plums taste much better when they are cooked. And adding spices like cinnamon and cardamom brings out all the goodness in plums.
This pie is an ideal week-end dessert. Sweet and slightly juicy plums with spices and toasted walnuts in a flaky crust are perfect match for a cup of tea or a glass of milk.
How to choose plums for a pie filling?
Whenever I bake a fruit pie I prefer fully ripe, but firm fruits. If the fruits are firm, your pie will stand beautifully. But if the fruits are overripe and too mushy, chances are the pie will spread all over your plate. And the worse that could happen is to have the filling getting through or over the dough and spill into the oven… that would be messy.
For this recipe I used damson plums which have a mix of sweet and sour taste, perfect for desserts or savory dishes. But any plums will work just fine.
How to make spiced plum pie with flaky crust from scratch
1. Prepare the dough
The first step when preparing the dough is to mix in a large bowl all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and turmeric). Then add the cold vegan butter cut into cubes and knead until the butter incorporates as much flour as possible. At this stage, you won’t have a consistent dough, just crumbles. Add then the cold milk gradually and continue kneading until all crumbles are well incorporated. You need to knead the dough for about 2 minutes.
Cover the dough, put it in the fridge and start preparing the plums filling.
2. Prepare the spiced plum pie filling
Wash the plums, remove the pits and cut them into 1 cm slices on the long side. If you cut them into bigger chunks it will be more difficult later to get an even layer of plum filling in the tart tin. In a big bowl add all filling ingredients but don’t stir quite yet. Wait until you need to assemble the pie. When you mix plums with sugar, they start to release juice and this will affect your pie’s consistency and the juice might also spill over in the oven while baking.
3. Prepare the crust
There are three layers in a pie: bottom crust, filling and top lattice crust.
For the crusts, take the dough out of the fridge and divide it in two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. The larger piece (for which I used about 2/3 from the dough) will be your bottom crust. Use the remaining dough to make the top lattice or other desired shapes.
To make the bottom crust, use a rolling pin to roll out the larger piece of dough on a clean surface, until you get a big disc. The dough disc should be 3 cm larger than your pie tin diameter. If the dough disc is not larger than the tin’s diameter, you won’t be able to cover the tin’s sides. I used a 25 cm tart pan so, I made a dough disc a bit larger than 28 cm. Press the dough disc into the tin and trim the edges so they get even.
To make the top lattice crust, roll out the other piece of dough and cut it into 1,5 -2 cm wide stripes. Just bear in mind that the wider the stripes are, the easier it is to weave the lattice top.
4. Assemble and bake the pie
This pie requires for the blind baking technique. Don’t worry, you don’t need to bake with a blindfold on ?. It just means that the dough has to be pre-baked before adding in the filling. Why? Because the plum filling needs less baking time than the dough. Plus, the pre-baking adds crunchiness to the crust. If you put them at the same time in the oven, the juice released by the plums will infiltrate into your dough and make it all soggy. Another reason is that, like any dough made with butter, it will shrink when it gets in contact with oven high temperature. And you don’t want the crust’s sides to be shorter than the filling layer.
So, how do you blind bake your crust? First you need to keep the dough in the fridge for minimum 30 minutes. This step is necessary because, when the fat from the butter starts melting in the oven, it will create the perfect flaky pie crust that we all love.
After you arrange the dough on the bottom of the tin, prick it all over with the tines of a fork. This step is necessary because, when the fat melts, it creates steam. And it will be released through the tiny holes you’ve just made. This method of poking the dough with the fork is called “docking” the pie crust. And sometimes it’s enough, sometimes it isn’t (it works for me every time).
So what more can you do to prevent pie crust puffing? Weight it down with something, like dry beans, rice or sugar (if you don’t have special pie weights). For this you need to line the pie dough with parchment paper and then put the pie weights on top in an even layer. Bake for 7 minutes, take the crust out of the oven, remove the weights, dock it with a fork and then return into the oven for another 10 minutes. While having the weights on it, the bottom of the crust won’t cook. That’s why you need to remove the weights then bake again.
While the crust is pre-baking, stir gently the plums filling ingredients, When you remove the tin from the oven, add the plums filling on top of the pre-baked crust. Try to get an even plums layer without pressing too hard into the dough underneath. Then arrange the pastry strips alternating over and under into a lattice pattern on top of the pie.
Bake for 40 minutes at 180℃.
Tips for making a perfect spiced plum pie with flaky crust
- Use pie filling thickener – no matter how firm your plums are, when heated, they tend to release juice. In order to control that “juiciness”, it’s important to add a thickening agent. For this pie I used chickpea flour, but there are other good options too. I used once buckwheat flour and it worked very well and besides, it also added a nutty flavor to the filling. It gave a darker shade to the filling though. You can also use other thickening ingredients like corn starch or tapioca flour.
- Don’t pre-cook the filling – this is not a good idea at all. Cooking the plums in advance will make them mushy and way too juicy to keep your tart together. Totally unnecessary.
- Use cold ingredients – this is the key to your flaky crust.
- Add color – if you want to give your pie that yellow natural color, add some turmeric. Besides its health benefits, turmeric can be used as a natural food coloring powder especially for desserts. Usually I can feel the taste of turmeric in desserts and don’t particularly like it. But to color a bit the dough of this plum pie, 1/2 tsp won’t do any harm to the taste.
How to store the spiced plum pie?
This pie can be kept at room temperature for 1 or 2 days. But if you need to keep it longer, use an airtight container and store it into the fridge for about one week.
Spiced Plum Pie with Flaky Crust
- 25 cm pie tin or tart dish
- 250 g all purpose flour 2 cups
- 50 g sugar ½ cup
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric optional
- 1 pinch salt
- 80 g cold vegan butter cut into chunks
- 80 ml ice cold plant based milk (or water) ⅓ cup
- 500 g pitted plums sliced
- 80 g brown sugar 3/8 cups
- 80 ml oat cream
- 2-3 tbsp chickpea flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 30 g crushed roasted walnuts
- grated zest from 1 lemon
Dough (*please also carefully read the instructions above):
- Put the dough dry ingredients in a large bowl and combine;
- Add the cold butter cubes and and mix until it resembles to breadcrumbs texture;
- Add cold milk gradually with a spoon and knead for about 2 minutes;
- Put the dough into a covered bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes;
- Put all plum filling ingredients into a large bowl and set aside; don't stir until you need to place the filling on top of the crust;
Assemble & bake the pie
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and take the dough out of the fridge;
- Divide the dough in two pieces, one larger than the other (⅔ + ⅓);
- Roll out the larger piece of dough on a clean surface until you get a big disc; the disc should be 3 cm larger than the tart tin;
- Set the dough disc into the tin and then trim away any excess; to make it easier, you can roll the dough on the rolling pin and unroll it into the tart tin;
- Prick the dough with the tins of a fork to help release the steam while baking;
- Blind bake the dough for about 10-12 minutes at 180°C (350°F);
- Roll out the remaining dough into a rectangle;
- Cut the dough into 1,5 – 2 cm strips;
- Carefully mix the filling ingredients;
- Take the tin out of the oven and the plum filling on top of the crust;
- Arrange and weave the dough strips in a lattice pattern on top of the pie;
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes at 180°C (350°F), until the lattice pastry on top turn golden brown;
- Remove the pie from the oven and leave to set for 3 hours before serving.
- Use cold ingredients to get the flaky crust that you want.
- Make sure the dough is cold before putting it into the oven; keep in the fridge for 15-20 minutes if needed before baking.
- Don’t cut the pie while it’s hot; give it enough time to set.