Pacific Northwest summers are famous for an abundance of fruits. The Northwest’s early settlers brought the rootstocks for cultivating our fruit celebrities: berries, apricots, plums, cherries, apples, and pears, to name a few. The season starts with strawberries, rhubarb, and cherries in spring, then apricots and an assortment of plums become available. The mid-summer brings us raspberries, blueberries, Marionberries, and blackberries with various apple varieties starting to roll into the mix. Late summer delivers huckleberries, and then comes more apple varieties, pears, and the progression of fruits for the fall. Pies, crisps, buckles, and slumps are a fun and easy way to take advantage of our summer fruits. Many of these desserts just need a few simple ingredients, such as flour, butter, and sugar. As a kid growing up in the Northwest, no summer was complete without multiple blackberry pies and the stains to go with it!
Cruising in the summer often means entertaining and what better way to show your love and hospitality than with a beautiful pie or crisp? Storing flour and sugar in airtight containers is an easy task. Then all you need are a few other ingredients for a pie or a crisp (butter, salt, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, etc.) that can be stored in a single large airtight container for easy access. If you have the luxury of a larger boat, you may have an on-board freezer, and in that case, I would keep pre-rolled packages of pie dough or pre-mixed streusel dough in the freezer for the building of a quick dessert. All that is left to gather is the fruit and so many cruising destinations have farmers markets, fruit stands, or patches of wild berries ready to collect for dessert.
The easiest dessert to prepare is the crisp, which is fruit sweetened and dotted with butter in a baking dish, then topped with a mixture of flour, sugar, butter, salt, and the optional oats, nuts, or spices. Crisps take about an hour to bake to a deep golden color and are great with ice cream. Pies require a bit more work with the creation of the crust which, if made by hand, requires blending, chilling, rolling, then building and baking. Slumps are a biscuit or cake-like batter poured over berries or wet fruit and baked in the oven; easy and very delicious! My friend Janet’s family recipe has been handed down through several generations and they use peaches or blueberries. Her family calls their recipe a “buckle” which is the reaction you have eating her dessert! Other folks call the same dessert a slump, which is what happens as you enjoy the dessert sitting in a chair. Whether sitting on a boat chaise or in a chair, any of these desserts would be a great way to end a beautiful Northwest evening on the water. I’ll bring the vanilla ice cream!
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl blend the fruit with the sugar, salt and cinnamon, then pour into the baking dish. In the same bowl, blend dry ingredients with the butter, rubbing through your fingers to break up the butter, then pour the mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake for about one hour, or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbly. Top with whipped cream after serving, if desired.
Flaky Pie Dough:
Blend the dry ingredients together in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold butter and blend in, taking care to pulse with the food processor or blend with your fingers until the butter is pea-sized. Chill again if necessary then add in the cold water, combining the dough until it comes together into a ball. Press into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the dough is cold and rested.
For a berry pie, use 10 cups of berries and add 4 tablespoons flour or 1/2 cup of tapioca instead of flour.
To build the pie, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the diced apples in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and set aside. Divide the pie dough into two-thirds and a third, and use the two-third piece for the bottom, roll into one-eighth-inch thick disk and line your pan, then roll the top and set aside. Fill the pan with the fruit filling, top with the final pie dough, using your cream or egg wash to brush on the seam of the two crusts, trimming all excess dough to 1” of the pan’s edge. Fold up the edges and crimp to seal the dough. Brush the top of the pie with the cream or the egg wash and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake immediately for one hour or until the top of the pie is a deep golden brown.
For an 8×8 baking pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put peaches and first addition of sugar into a saucepan and cook until the sugar melts and the remove from heat. Combine milk, flour, sugar and baking powder. Pour melted butter into an 8×8 baking pan. Pour batter into pan. Pour peaches on top of batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. You may add additional fruit, or substitute raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown. After serving, top with Raspberries or other fruit if desired.