It’s one of those unfair life situations: just when the best, sweetest, juiciest fruit is ripe, it’s too damn hot to turn the oven on to bake a pie. I mean, it was over 122 F/50C in parts of Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona yesterday and they’re not expecting that to change soon. You just go into survival mode when it’s that hot. Pie doesn’t even cross your mind. You are just trying to not cook to death.
I almost never turn the oven on from June through mid-September. But summer pies are legendary. Jesse Colin Young sang about them in “Ridgetop.”
I’ve got hundred foot pine trees
That just love to dance in the wind
And a yard full of bushes
That turn into pie in July
So what’s a piemaker to do when the summer fruit is plentiful but you don’t dare heat the house up any more than it already is? Turn to the barbecue. Instead of making a two-crust fruit pie, make one giant crust and use it like a hobo pack to envelope all the filling.
This is called a gallette in French – a flat, round(ish) pastry filled with fruit.
PIE ON THE BARBECUE
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons very cold butter
- ice water
Directions for making pie crust are here.
When you’ve made the crust, wrap it in waxed paper and store in the fridge for at least 20 minutes – an hour or two is better – until very cold.
- 2-4 cups fresh summer fruit (slice fruit like peaches or apricots thinly as well as oversized berries; leave small berries whole)
- sugar to taste (I use two or three tablespoons, depending on how sweet the fruit is)
Combine fruit, sugar, and tapioca, and let sit until ready to make the pie. If you use the larger BB-sized tapioca like I do here, let the mixture sit an hour or two to allow the tapioca to soften and start absorbing moisture.
(If you really feel you can’t bear to make a crust, buy one of those refrigerated pie crusts in a box and roll it out really thin on a floured board.)
Roll out the crust on a floured board. Do not worry if the crust isn’t perfectly round. It’s fine if it looks like a map of France. Roll it thinly to get a very large crust.
Patch any holes with dough from the edges and a dab of water.
Using a dough scraper or spatula if necessary, fold the crust in half and then in quarters, and transfer it to an aluminum pie plate. Unfold and let the edges flop over the sides.
Spoon the filling into the center. Here I used plums and peaches.
Then flop the edges over the filling.
If not baking right away, refrigerate the pie. Do not set the pie near the barbecue because you want the crust to stay cold and not allow the butter bits in it to soften.
When ready to bake, preheat gas grill to 350 (charcoal BBQ, use this guide to determine temperature.)
Invert an empty aluminum pie plate or other aluminum pan on the grill.
Set the pie on top on that, and close the lid.
Monitor the temperature to keep it between 350 to 375.
A smaller pie with about 2 cups filling will take about 25 minutes. This larger pie with four cups filling took about 40 minutes. It’s done when the filling is bubbling and the crust feels crisp instead of soft.
At this point you can remove the pie, or you can set it directly on the grill for about five minutes to let the bottom crust brown. Watch it carefully (lift a section of the pie up gently with a spatula) because it can go from golden brown to burned fast.
Cut into fat wedges to serve. Makes about four servings.