The Whatchamacallit: An End to Pie Anxiety

by paige on August 18, 2010

RETURNING READERS MAY remember last summer as the time of pie anxiety. After a cataclysmic conflict over crust, my mother and I foolishly faced off in a local pie contest and, well, let’s just say that neither of us felt like much of a winner by the end. Ever since, I seem to have been avoiding pie entirely, at least in my own kitchen.

My husband, fully aware of both the pie drama and the ensuing Year Of No Pie, was grateful when I came up with my latest favorite dessert. Not quite pie, not quite crumble, it remains nameless, and delicious. It is easy to make, foolproof, crowd pleasing. What more do you need in the waning days of summer?

I still have berries to pick (blackberries are just ripening in my secret patch down by the barn) so I’ve been combining them with peaches. It’s a perfect mix of bright sour flavors with succulent sweetness, but you could use any stone fruit, alone or in combination, with or without berries. (If you still have rhubarb, that’s good, too!) I prefer my desserts on the less-sugary side, but if you warm to a sweeter taste, increase the sugar to suit your fruit, and your liking.

Summer Fruit Whatchamacallit
Serves 8

6 cups mixed stone fruit and/or berries, stone fruit peeled if desired (I never bother) and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch wide slices, according to preference
1/3 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of one orange
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 T cornstarch
1 c unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/8 t fine sea salt
3/8 c sugar
1/8 c light brown sugar
1/2 c blanched, slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Toss fruit with sugar, orange zest and corn starch. If using vanilla bean, cut it in half lengthwise and carefully scrape out the tiny black seeds into the bowl of fruit. (If using vanilla extract, add it to the fruit along with the orange zest and corn starch.) Toss the mixture gently to combine. Cover and macerate at room temperature for up to an hour.

Combine butter, flour, salt and sugars in a bowl. Work the mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers until you have a clumpy dough. (This is not sophisticated stuff. It will not be pretty, not uniform, not pea-sized pieces, but great walnut-scale lumps.) Add the almonds, and work them in with your fingers until they are distributed evenly throughout.

Turn the fruit out into a 10 inch pie plate or tart pan (I like to use one with pretty fluted sides, but not with a removable bottom. This mixture, even with the corn starch to thicken the juices, could leak during baking.) Top with spoonfuls of the dough, covering the top thoroughly. (It’s ok if the fruit peeks through a bit, but mostly, you want it covered.)

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve hot, warm or cold. This is wonderful on its own, but decadent with vanilla ice cream, or a mixture of half creme fraiche and half whipped cream, stirred together and ever-so-slightly sweetened.

So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting today, for the next five Wednesdays,  you can contribute in various ways, big or small.

Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:

Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites).


• Wednesday, July 28: That’s today. CUKES ‘N ZUKES, baby.
• Wednesday, August 4: CORN. Not corny. Sweet…
• Wednesday, August 11: HERBS, GREENS & GREEN BEANS. That’s a whole lot of chlorophyll to play with.

• Wednesday, August 18: STONE FRUIT. I said “stone”, not “stoned”.
• Wednesday, August 25: TOMATOES. Assuming, unlike last summer, we are blight-free. Fingers and toes all crossed.

And in case I forget what week it is, won’t somebody remind me on Twitter? Thanks. We’ll be talking it up there, too.

That’s how a Summer Fest works.

Who’s coming to this party?
Glad you asked. An incredible line up of bloggers-extraordinaire:

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Purple Cook August 18, 2010 at 7:44 am

For Summer Fest: The peaches from our CSA just seem to get eaten – they are so good. No opportunities to cook with them.

Since blackberries and stone fruits are both members of the rose family, I thought I would share my blackberry recipes.

I have two pies made by different methods.
No. 1 is good for making and eating right away.

No. 2 is good for freezing.

I also made blackberry ice cream.

Alison August 18, 2010 at 9:11 am
Ranjani August 18, 2010 at 9:14 am

Sounds great, and “foolproof” is always good to hear!
This week, I made peaches baked with blue cheese:

Kim August 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

As the Flexitarian Foodie, I’ve been going crazy with peaches this summer! If you visit and do a search, you’ll find lots of great examples, but here are my two favorite recipes to share:

Strawberry-Peach Butter

Avocado-Tomato-Peach Salad (crazy good)

Stacey Ballis August 18, 2010 at 11:53 am

Dead easy and delicious Nectarine (or Peach) Souffle Pie

Barbara | Vino Luci Style August 18, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Was intrigued by tweet that did not mention your post had PEACHES and now as I look at a counter full of them, I know I HAVE to make something. Unaware of your post but just made a fabulous peach crisp with toffee bits in the crust (can you say caramel?) and just a bit of spice in the mix (and I’m not talking cinnamon…booze baby!).

But what really inspired this comment is our sisterhood that was unbeknown to us before right now. YOU don’t peel either? Oh yah! I somehow think I’m sinful for perpetrating that horror on my unsuspecting eaters but so far, no one is the wiser and I’m getting away with it. Well, til now.

Can’t wait to made this today…Thank YOU!

Melissa August 18, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Love your Whatchamacallit!

I cooked up some Brandied Vanilla Apricots at It’s The Way She

marla {family fresh cooking} August 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

This yummy sweet berry bliss does not need a name…just needs to be cooked and eaten. Sounds wonderful!

Here is my contribution to this weeks Summer Fest:

Peach Pie Enchiladas

Stephanie @ Dollop of Cream August 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Isn’t Summer Fest wonderful? If only I could eat more than 2 or 3 desserts a day!

Here is my contribution: Peach Crisp. It’s lovely served hot out of the oven with a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Sarah August 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

This sounds like something I’d whip up in the kitchen!

My entry into Summer Fest this week is my newest favorite cold dessert

Nectarine Sorbetto, my version is made with raw honey

and a favorite I’m saving up for cold wintry mornings,

Ginger Peach Pineapple Fruit Butter

Thank you for hosting! I can’t wait to dig into all the other recipes posted!


Ott, A August 19, 2010 at 8:48 am

This looks delish! I enjoy canning and have been amazed at how many woman have “Canning Anxiety” so I am hosting a “Canning Week Blog Party” on my blog next week (Aug. 23-27). We will be posting lots of tips, recipes and have liny parties and give-a-ways all related to canning in hopes of encouraging and educating other bloggers about it. I would love for you to stop by, it should be a lot of fun!!!

Leah August 19, 2010 at 12:48 pm

My first time joining the fun for Summer Fest! Took some liberties, though. My contribution is Key Lime Cheesecake Bars, that uses almonds, blueberries (are they in the same Rose Family as the other berries?) and limes (we only have citrus trees growing in our yard). These bars are unbelievably good!

Liam O'Malley August 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Peach and blackberries are always such a great combination… I made a sangria recently with the two that turned out great.

My contribution for summer fest this week is peach and pecan pie:

alana August 20, 2010 at 7:34 am

Oh, but your pie anxiety makes such lovely stories! But this one sounds like a good addition to the repertoire….

Naseer @ GreenThumbGeeks August 20, 2010 at 11:57 am

This sounds delicious. I’ve never thought to use an actual vanilla bean instead of just vanilla bean extract–I’ll have to try that!

Here’s my contribution to Summer Fest for the week:

Kathleen August 24, 2010 at 9:21 am

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