I’ve never found the idea of a sweet potato or a pumpkin pie to be too appealing. Even with the right pumpkin or the perfect orange or purple sweet potato, I know for a fact that I’ll make it once and won’t make it ever again, so really what’s the point? It’s always better to cook the kind of food and recipes that you know you’ll want to make for friends and family again and again. I don’t think I’d be so confident setting down a sweet potato pie before family for dessert, and indeed, I wouldn’t want to. I’m always yearning to present them with food that will etch its way into their memory and they’ll remember to ask for it again later.
This pie is quite simply, a maple custard draped over fabulously crunchy Fuyu (squatter, tomato lookalikes) persimmons that are available in the markets now. I think it’s understood here that Hachiya (the longer, fatter ones) won’t be the best choice as they’re only best when overripe and quite pulpy. That said, I suppose if you tinkered with the custard enough, you could add the Hachiya fruit’s pulp in too, though I take no guarantees for the custard not splitting if you do that. If you have somehow managed to miss my now-monotonous drone about maple syrup after two years, here it is again: Use only good quality maple syrup and none of that corn syrup nonsense that’s sold as Pancake Syrup in bottles. The flavour will never be the same, nor will it be as rich as the real deal. Maple syrup, much like chocolate, should be treated as a splurge ingredient, which it is, and for good reason. It takes 30-50 gallons of maple sap water to make one gallon of concentrated syrup, which is why it’s expensive.
For the pie shell, instead of linking you to another recipe on the blog, I’m simply rewriting my old instructions again here. My pie shell is all-butter with no egg, a timeless classic. The recipe makes 2x 9-inch single crust pie shells. A single crust means without a lattice top. I suggest making the whole batch because the thing with pies and tarts is that especially if you’re not the sorts to roll out pastry frequently, and I understand this because it is too hot where I live at least, you won’t be drawn to making it more frequently, which is a real shame, because why should you miss out? If you have a frozen disc of dough in the freezer, you’re more likely to use it, if only to clear out space in the freezer after some time. It could be as biscuits, a galette, savoury mini pie crusts tucked into a cupcake tin and baked with filling, pie dough is very versatile. Remember that practice makes perfect, and that pie dough is very forgiving. If things go south, it’s nothing a good patchwork job won’t fix.
Salted Maple and Persimmon Pie
Yield 1 9-inch pie
A maple custard draped over firm juicy Fuyu persimmons bakes to a gleaming gold that tasted great by itself or with cream. The added salt just cuts through all the sugar making this a delightful little variation of my favourite crack pie.
Tart shell (makes more than enough to line a long rectangular tart shell (34cm x 11cm) or makes 2 x 9-inch single crust round tarts)
Sugar 1 tbsp
Salt 3/4 tsp
Salted Butter 226g, fridge cold, cut into cubes
Ice-Cold water 120ml
Fuyu Persimmons 2, tops trimmed, cut down the centre, then each halve turned 90 degrees and sliced lengthwise, but not too thinly. I like to keep a bit of bite in there. It is fruit after all, I don’t want it to disintegrate.
Maple syrup 1 cup (use quality Maple syrup and not the imitational stuff sold as Pancake syrup please)
Butter 140g, melted and cooled
Brown sugar 150g
Polenta 1/4 cup
Salt two pinches
Egg Yolk 1
Amul cream 3/4 cup
Vanilla extract 1 1/4 tsp or 1 3/4 tsp essence
Egg white whisked lightly, for brushing the edges
Sea Salt for finishing
I recommend working in an air-conditioned room with pastry especially during the high summers. Keep a wide work surface ready in the air conditioned room and use an ice pack on the surface that you’ll be rolling out your pastry on.
Rub the fridge-cold butter into the flour and salt using your fingers till everything starts to look mealy. Start adding the cold water to the dough bit by bit till it forms a ball using a bear claw hand to stir everything. Once it comes together as a ball, knead it very lightly once or twice, then wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into two after 30 minutes and shape both into circles. Flatten both into discs and transfer one disc back to the freezer and continue with the other disc. If it's not chilled anymore as you do this, chill in the refrigerator or freezer for 15-30 more minutes and continue.
Transfer the one disc of dough to the now-lightly floured cold surface after its 30 minutes of resting time, and roll the dough out with a pin to a 12 to 13-inch rough circle. Mine always looks quite warped, but as long as it’s of even thickness throughout, you’re good. You could do this between two sheets of clingfilm too if you like, which makes it easy to transfer the pastry, but I’ve stopped doing it now.
Flip the rolled out pastry over the pie dish, first ensuring that the base is intact before tucking in any excess overhanging dough into itself. Then work your way around the crust using your left hand’s index and thumb fingers to pinch a bit of dough and the right hand’s thumb to press in from the other side to make an indentation until you have a fancy crimped edge throughout. Refrigerate again for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and place a baking paper in the empty cavity of the pie shell. Add baking beans to the centre to weigh down the pie shell and transfer to the oven to blind bake for 25-30 minutes. You can remove the pie dish as well as the beans after the crimped edges have taken on a bit of colour. Take the pie dish out of the oven and let it cool.
While it cools, get on with the filling. Whisk together the melted cooled butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, polenta and salt. Add the eggs, yolks, cream and vanilla and whisk till everything is combined. Arrange the persimmon slices at the base of the pie and pour over the egg and maple mixture over a little more than halfway up the pie’s sides. Brush the crimped edges with the egg white (this is optional). Bake the pie in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the pie’s centre is just set with a bit of jiggle right at the centre like a cheesecake. Take it out of the oven, sprinkle over lots of flaky sea salt and let it chill in the pie dish. It will continue to cook as it cools.
Cut and serve the pie once it has cooled.