When there are raspberries and then blueberries, you can tell yourself you’ve got all kinds of time. You can go for a swim tomorrow. Or read a book. You have a whole summer ahead of you. But now, it’s figs and plums, and we all know what that means. There is one more summer pie to make before apples come along and elbow out the last of the summer fruits.
Don’t tell yourself you’ll make Italian plum pie for some dinner party once Covid lightens up. Just do what you have to do to get some prune plums right now. They’ll be in local markets for only a few weeks. You need a pound of them for this pie, so better get at least two.
These are the oval, blue-purple plums with a dusty-looking bloom on their skins — that’s a natural protection from soaking rain and dry wind. They have a denser, less juicy texture than summer plums, and when you cut into them the greenish-gold interior seems a little serious for plain eating. They’re not the kind of thing you’d stand over the sink to devour.
But baked into a pie, they turn gold and bright cherry-colored, and the juices emerge, with honeyed flavors. They don’t need anything — sugar, yes, but no Armagnac, no nutmeg — except to lean up against the plainest buttery crust.
One other good thing about this pie is that it comes together fast. You’re rolling out just one large crust and then flapping the edges of it up and over the top of the pie. You really do have time to make this one, even though all those extra hours of summer are gone.
Italian Plum Pie
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. (one stick) butter
About 5 Tbsp. ice water
1 lb. Italian prune plums
2/3 cup sugar
1½ Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. sugar
Heat the oven to 375 F while you make the crust.
Put the flour in a bowl and stir in the salt. Cut cold butter into the flour mixture using a fork (or, if you use a food processor, just go easy on the pulsing) until you have a lumpy, sandy mixture.
Add the ice water, cutting it in lightly (or pulsing briefly). Don’t overmix or let the dough get warm. When the pastry holds together, pat it into a disk, wrap it, and chill it in the freezer while you prepare the plums.
Quarter the plums into a bowl. Squeeze on the two tablespoons of lemon juice. Stir in the sugar and corn starch.
Roll out the dough, making a circle at least 3 inches larger than your pie plate. Set the crust in the pan and allow the edges to drape over the sides. Pile in the plum mixture and fold the edges of the crust up and over the pie.
Brush the top with the milk and sprinkle on a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Bake about 45 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.