Mother Nature has changed direction. After the balmy summer nights of July and August, September has arrived. The crisp, damp mornings. Even though now it is accompanied by the sound of tractors heading off to the vineyards and the smell of wine fermenting in the town’s cooperative, it still vividly reminds me of pulling up my knee-length red socks and going off to school.
Right now, it’s only a subtle shift. We’re not even halfway through September yet but already you can spot a change in hue. The piercing sunshine of the summer months has been painted over with a wide brushstroke of grey. Even last night, on the way home from the pizzeria (did you read about my recent kitchen woes?) the fog phenomenon found in northern Italy, la nebbia, made its first appearance of the season. It’s remarkably early.
Just before the oven broke down, I was in the kitchen and in a very autumnal mood. Sunday mid-morning and it was raining outside; the kind of constant rain which makes you want to stay inside and get baking. My kitchen shelves are bursting with plums and apples, from which I can’t wait to make pies, compotes and crumbles.
I made a new batch of Scottish shortbread biscuits (because it turns out that the all-Italian boy has a soft spot for a cup of tea and a biscuit!) The roast chicken is all ready to go and the potatoes are already prepped. Right now, I’m making a plum pie.
I very much recommend Nigel Slater’s recipe in the Guardian (link here) especially for the pastry.
I’m making a pie for 3 people so I’ve taken 600g plums, washed, quartered and sprinkled them with demerara sugar and cinnamon.
I like to quarter the plums because I can fit more in the dish. There is nothing sadder than a pie which is not completely bursting with fruit. After coating the fruit with sugar, I left it for half an hour or so and meanwhile made the pastry crust.
I used Nigel Slater’s recipe which turned out perfectly. Just the right thickness, level of crumbliness, sweetness – all important considerations when making pie crust!
golden caster sugar, 100g
an egg, lightly beaten
plain flour, 175g
baking powder, ½ tsp
I’m copying and pasting directly from the Guardian website (it’s already available for free so I hope I’m not infringing on any copyrights.)
“Cream the butter and caster sugar in a food mixer till light and fluffy. Mix in the lightly beaten egg, then gently add the flour and baking powder. Remove dough from the mixing bowl and roll into a ball on a heavily floured work surface. Knead the dough for a minute or two until smooth and soft. Wrap in greaseproof or waxed paper and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.”
Served with rich, vanilla ice cream…. let’s just say, it was a fabulous way to blow out the oven!!
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