Years back, I found myself in Italy with quite a lot of apricots. In Florence, I bought a very generous kilo of fresh, ripe apricots from a little farm stall on the Piazza Santo Spirito. My daughter and I ate quite a few of them as we strolled around the city. Then we had some for breakfast the next day, then a couple more in the rental car as we made our way down to Chianti, where we would stay another week with friends and where I would finally get my hands into a kitchen.
That left us with over a pound of apricots (a kilo is 2.2 pounds) and by now they were bruised, oozy and brown, and definitely past their prime for munching. The only thing to do was to make pie.
On vacation, I like to break the rules a little, don't you? Wine with lunch every day... pasta twice a day... why not pie for breakfast? I figured the fruit was as sweet as it could possibly be, so we wouldn't have to add much sugar. I also made it with just a top crust to cut back on the crust to fruit ratio. This was a pie fit for breakfast if ever there was one.
Next time you find yourself with a kilo, or a pound, or a handful of fruit past its munching prime, follow this simple formula for a breakfast (or dessert) treat. The only mildly tricky part is figuring out how much sugar to add. Add none if your fruit is especially sweet, but in general with something like apricots or peaches, I like about 2 teaspoons of sugar per cup of very ripe sliced fruit. To thicken the filling, use about 2 teaspoons of flour per cup of fruit.
For a standard 9- or 10-inch pie, you will need about 2 pounds of cut fruit. This is how I've written the recipe below, but you can scale it down to any size pie or amount of fruit that you have — the basic template works with as little as 1/2 cup of fruit baked in a ramekin. I had about 2 1/2 cups fruit when I made my apricot pie, so I used a deep 8-inch round baker. You can also use any pie dish or even a cast-iron skillet.
Apricot Breakfast Pie
Serves 6 to 8
2 pounds apricots (or other fruit), very ripe, cut into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons or more sugar, depending on sweetness of fruit, plus more for top
2 tablespoons flour
Pinches of any spices that would compliment (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, etc.)
Pinch of grated lemon zest
Pie dough to fit top of dish
1 large egg, beaten
1 9-inch pie crust
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the fruit, sugar and flour. Add optional spices and lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a 9- or 10-inch baking dish.
Roll out pie dough to about 1/4-inch thick, more substantial than you would with a normal pie crust. Cut in a circle slightly larger than top of baking dish. Carefully transfer the pastry to the baking dish and press down gently. Tuck the sides down.
With any left-over dough, cut out decorative pieces for top of pie: a message, a clue to the fruit below, or a branch and leaves. Brush the top with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a few pinches of sugar.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until top begins to brown. Then lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the fruit: ripe apricots take about 15 minutes, less-ripe pears or apples can take 30 minutes. You'll know it's done when a syrupy liquid begins to bubble up the sides of the dish. Watch that the crust doesn't burn; if it is getting too brown but the filling isn't bubbly yet, cover the top with foil.
Serve with a spoonful of plain yogurt, whipped cream, crème fraîche, or mascarpone.
This recipe has been updated. Originally published June 2009.
(Image credits: Sara Kate Gillingham)