To a lot of people, baking is scary. Baking (usually) requires precise measurements using cups (different ones for liquid and dry ingredients) or worse, scales, and leveling off instead of scooping. Unless you’re me and you make a pie without measuring a single thing.
You read that right. For a recent get-together, I made a pie. (We have now dubbed ourselves The Order of Pi, so I should say it was a hit.) Since it was 80 degrees, I shunned the autumnal pumpkin or apple and went with the Golden Child (IMO) of late-summer stone fruit: nectarine. I love nectarines. I love that they have the similar juicy, sweet flavor of peaches without the thick, fuzzy skin. There’s nothing wrong with a peach, but in pies and cocktails, I love its clean-cut cousin.
I took six nectarines and sliced them into thin crescents. I tossed them with the juice of a lemon, a glug of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract, and a handful of flour and two handfuls of granulated sugar. I mixed it all up until the nectarines glistened and there weren’t any more gobs of flour.
Although double-crust pies have their place, I opted for a crumbly streusel topping kissed with a secret ingredient: lemon (zest and juice). This was where I improvised. I have never heard of a lemon streusel before. I didn’t know how to go about making one. But I soldiered on and combined a half a stick of softened butter with about a cup of sugar (eyeballed) and the same amount of flour and a trickle of lemon extract and zested a lemon into it. I squished it between my hands (I’m sorry, it’s the only way to make a crumb topping) until it became almost like a shortbread dough. I could’ve eaten it raw (no eggs, y’all) but I restrained, for the most part.
I mounded the fruit mixture into the unbaked dough-lined pie pan (use your favorite pie crust (visit the link for mine via Fine Cooking) or an easy roll-out one or even one already pressed into a pie plate from the freezer section. Remember, this is supposed to be easy. If you’re not a pie crust whiz, just improvise.) I scattered the streusel all over the top, making sure to cover the pie evenly with goodness. The crust edges I crimped between my thumb and forefinger (not perfectly, as you can see. But it doesn’t matter. This was Easy Pie. There are myriad ways to “fancy up” your pie crust, just ask Food52). It bakes at 350 for about 45 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown. If you have a hot oven, I’d check it at 30 minutes. The one thing you don’t want is burnt pie.
I won’t lie. If you’re looking for the pie that will cut a perfect triangle slice, this one isn’t it. It was crumbly. And a little juicy. But seven people demolished it in about five minutes. So I’d call that a win, wouldn’t you?