Remember when having a substitute teacher in school was so much fun? It was new and exciting, and you were in suspense about whether they would be terrible or nice. Sometimes it meant watching a movie, and sometimes it meant awful busy work.
I’m always trying to figure out what I can substitute in cooking, and just as with substitute teachers, I’m always in a state of suspense about whether or not my substitute will work out all right. In the case of the pie I made yesterday, I found that nectarines are fantastic substitute peaches.
My go-to peach pie recipe is from Southern Living: the Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Peach Pie. I cheat and use a store-bought crust to cut down on time and effort, but the recipe linked here certainly includes directions for making a flaky pie crust.
When I got a half dozen nectarines in my CSA box this week, one word echoed through my mind: pie. At first, I wanted to try making a pie with blueberries and nectarines, since I got both, but alas, in the end, I went for the purity of nectarines. There are many recipes out there for nectarine crumbles and cobblers, but I just wasn’t finding any pie recipes I liked. So I did a search to see if my hunch that nectarines could be substituted for peaches was correct, and according to the Interwebs, it was.
I found my Southern Living recipe, omitted peaches and substituted nectarines, and an hour later, I pulled a bubbling, cinnamon-smelling, golden pie from the oven. I didn’t bother peeling them; unlike peaches, nectarines have a smooth skin, and it broke down to a delightful softness during the baking process. This pie should be served warm, probably with ice cream, but let’s be real: this is pie. Eat it cold, eat it warm, eat it with ice cream, whipped cream, for breakfast, in the middle of the night, with your hands, or with a fork. Just eat it. It’s delicious, and now, it’s multi-purpose, and it got rave reviews from my girlfriend and our dinner guests (one of whom attempted to blurb the pie, but since we had each had our fill of Watermelon Bellinis before dinner, neither of us could remember the blurb to recount it here; something about crust and awesomeness). I’m a convert – nectarines make great pie filling. Who knew?
Substitute Teacher Nectarine Pie
This recipe has been adapted and re-worded from Southern Living Magazine
1 box refrigerator pie crust
6-8 large nectarines, firm, ripe, and fresh
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg beaten
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar (for sprinkling)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the first pie crust from its wrapping and unroll it, being careful with the edges. (I usually let the pie crust sit out on the counter, in its wrapper, while I get my other ingredients and materials ready; this gives it time to come to room temperature, which makes it unroll more easily.) Drape the pie crust into a pie place, pressing the dough in to the bottom.
2. Wash and dry your nectarines. Cut them into small-ish slices (I usually cut the nectarines into eight slices, and if any of those seem big, I halve the individual slices).
3. In a large bowl, combine the nectarine slices, brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Toss to coat and then spoon mixture into pie plate. Try to get an even spread of nectarine slices, and if they mound up in the middle, that’s just fine. Dot the filling with your two tablespoons of cold butter, cut into pieces.
4. Unroll your second pie crust. You can lay if over the top and crimp the edges, if you like, or if you want to get fancy, you can cut the dough round into strips and alternate them in a basket-weave pattern across the top of the pie, creating a lattice. Either way, seal the edges with a fork or your fingertips. If you left your top crust whole, cut a few slices in the center so steam can escape.
5. Brush the top crust with beaten egg, and then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
6. Put the pie in the freezer, and put a jellyroll pan in the oven, on a lower rack, for ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove the pie from the freezer and place it in the oven, on the jelly roll pan, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 40 more minutes, checking towards the end to see if it’s browning too much. If it looks like it’s burning, loosely cover with foil. Pie is done when filling begins bubbling through the topping.
7. Remove pie from oven and cool on a wire rack for two hours. Enjoy!