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Plum & Sage Pie

Plum and Sage Pie

Renée Robinson

A Little Grape Jelly is a Surprise Ingredient that Highlights the Plums’ Flavor.

When it comes to desserts, pies reign supreme in my home. It may have something to do with coming from the south and watching my mother and grandmother make pies when I was growing up, but a well made pie is at the very top of the dessert food chain, as far as I’m concerned. And it’s not only about the eating, but the process requires you to slow down and take your time. I love everything about making a pie, from beginning to end. I always start the day before by making my pie dough and giving it an overnight rest and chill before rolling it out and finishing it up the next day.

The crust I put together for this recipe is made in a stand mixer and is only mixed for a matter of seconds before turning it out onto the counter and then using a technique called fraisage, which is simply a French word for using the heel of your hand to rub the dough into layers. It couldn’t be simpler and takes only a couple of minutes at the most. I like using a stand mixer more than a food processor because the pieces of butter remain larger and there’s no chance of overworking the dough. The end result is a beautifully flaky pie crust. 

After rolling out both the top and bottom crusts, and putting them in the fridge to chill, I put together the filling ingredients. I’ve used plums, combined with other fruit in pies, but this is the first time I’ve made one that is exclusively plums. Well, almost exclusively, because I used a mix of black plums, red plums, and pluots. You want the plums to be fairly firm, not soft and overripe. Fresh sage is lovely with plums, so I thought I’d add a little to the this pie.

Fresh Plums and Sage

I also took a tip from Cheryl Day and added a surprise ingredient – grape jelly. She said it brings out the flavor of plums and I was intrigued. 

The thickening agent that’s become my favorite for using in fruit pies is Instant Clear Gel, but you can also use cornstarch. I like the Gel because as its name implies, it is perfectly clear and has a natural mouth feel. I mix it with sugar and a little salt, add the plums, sage, jelly, and lemon juice, and stir it up thoroughly. 

After mounding the filling into the pie shell, I drape on the top crust, seal it, cut a few air vents into the top crust and pop it into the freezer for about 20 minutes. I want the pie crust to be nice and chilled before baking. Right before it goes into the oven I spray it lightly with water and sprinkle on approximately 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. This gives you almost another distinct crispy layer on the top crust. I’m not a fan of egg washes on my pies for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it browns too quickly, giving the illusion that the crust is fully baked, when in fact, it is not. And I don’t like the glossy mouth feel. I like my crust to be crunchy and crackly. 

Prepared Pie Ready to Bake

Finally, a word on how long to bake a pie. I can’t stress more strongly the importance of fully baking a pie. The pie needs to bake long enough to completely brown the bottom and top crust, along with making sure the filling bubbles and the fruit is tender. In this case the plums soften easily, so there’s not a big chance of them ending up hard. If your pie crust is pale, then the crust is not cooked. You will have a soggy bottom crust and the top will not have cooked long enough to develop the proper flavor and texture. To put in the time and effort to make a pie, and to then remove it from the oven too soon is just sad. What could have been a great result is instead a mouthful of doughy mush. Please keep it in the oven long enough. Let the edges get really good and brown. That’s when the magic happens.

As to the final result of this particular pie? It may be my favorite fruit pie of all time. That quarter cup of grape jelly really does bring out the brilliant flavor of the plums. And the sage is beautifully fragrant, but subtle. I’m going to be baking another one before plums go out of season. 

Slice of Plum and Sage Pie

As I mentioned earlier, baking a pie takes time and I enjoy every bit of it. But when pie is on the menu, dinner will be light, simple, and easy. I’ve spent time on the pie and let’s face it, no one is really concerned about what comes first because it’s all about getting to that glorious pie.

Muscadine Pie

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Muscadine grapes make a gorgeous pie. Their sweet/tart flavor makes for one of the best pie fillings I've ever tasted. And a dab of crème fraîche on top doesn't hurt either.

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  • Double Crust Pie Pastry
  • 3 sticks of salted butter, each stick cut into 10 slices, well chilled

  • 3 cups flour (390 grams) all purpose unbleached flour, such as Gold Medal

  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • 6 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water

  • Muscadine Pie
  • 2 quarts Muscadine grapes, at least one of the quarts should be the purple colored variety in order for the color of the pie to be purple.

  • 1/4 cup grape jelly

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

  • 5 tablespoons Instant Clear Gel or cornstarch

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • Sparkling finishing sugar

  • Crème fraîche for topping each serving


  • Double Crust Pie Pastry
  • Combine the cider vinegar and ice water and place in the refrigerator to chill.
  • In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder on the lowest speed for about 30 seconds in order to mix well. Turn it off, add the well chilled butter slices, and mix on the same low speed for only a few seconds. You only want the slices to be coated in flour and perhaps bashed up a little. You don’t want the pieces of butter to be broken up at this point.
  • Turn on the mixer once again to the lowest speed and slowly add the water/vinegar. After it’s all been added you will only run the mixer for a few seconds. The dough should be shaggy and the butter should be in different sized pieces. Some will still be large. There will still be some dry flour. That’s fine. It’s what you want.
  • Dump the contents onto a clean counter and using your hands, bring it lightly together into a mound. It will not all be sticking together.
  • Using the heel of your hand, begin pressing down and pushing a small amount of the dough away from you. This technique is called fraisage. Continue with the rest of the dough. Using a bench scraper, fold the dough over on top of itself and continue pressing and pushing the dough in the same manner until it has all come together in a cohesive dough. This may take 3 or 4 folds. You are building layers.
  • Cut the dough in half, shape each half into a disc, and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap. When you cut the dough in half, you should be able to see all the layers you have developed. Chill for at least a couple of hours. The dough will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, but can also be frozen for a couple of months. If using from the frozen stage, let it thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours before rolling out. Let the chilled dough sit at room temperature for 10 t0 15 minutes before rolling out on a floured surface.
  • Muscadine Pie
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of pastry into a 12 inch circle and place into a 9 inch pie dish, trimming the edges to 1 1/2 inches beyond the rim of the pie dish. Roll the remaining disc of pastry, which will be the top of the pie, into a 12 inch circle, cut into lattice strips and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Chill both the pie shell and the lattice top for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425° with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  • Squeeze the hulls off the grapes and place the pulp in a medium saucepan, reserving the hulls in a bowl. Cook the pulp over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pulp turns translucent and the seeds start separating from the pulp. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  • Place the pulp in a blender and blend on the LOWEST speed for about one minute. You don’t want the seeds to break up. No need to wash the blender as you’ll be using it again in a few minutes. Strain the cooked pulp back into the same saucepan and add the hulls. Cook over medium heat until the hulls have softened - about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the grape jelly. Let cool for a few minutes. Place in the blender and blitz until the hulls are pulverized.
  • Pour into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice, vanilla extract, cardamom, and salt. In a small bowl stir together the sugar and Instant Clear Gel or cornstarch. Stir the sugar mixture into the grape filling. Set aside.
  • Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator and add the filling. Top with the lattice strips. Fold under and crimp. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. Remove from the freezer and lightly spray the top of the pie with water. Sprinkle on the finishing sugar of your choice. I used sparkling sugar for this pie. Bake the pie on the lower rack for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375° for another 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and the grape filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven, place on a rack and let cool before slicing. A spoonful of crème fraîche on each serving is lovely. Enjoy!


  • 9 inch Pie Dish
  • Blender

6 Responses

  1. My husband loves fruit pies. Sour cherry has long been his number 1, followed by blueberry and apple. This Plum and sage pie fits right in there! Outstanding. Thank you.

    1. Diane, I love this so much. Wow. To be included in your husband’s top 4 best pies is quite the honor. Thank you so much!

  2. I’m curious, do you prefer a glass pie pan or a metal one? And why.
    I’ve avoided making pies, actually, it’s the crust I can’t make, so I buy the prepared crusts in the dairy case. And, my hubby says his mother made the best apple pies so I know I can’t compete.

    I really need help!

    1. Karen, I fully understand, but I highly encourage you to bite the bullet and start making your own pie crusts. There isn’t the slightest bit of comparison between a store bought crust and a homemade one. Your first one probably won’t be perfect, but who cares? You will learn so much from the process. Remember to keep your ingredients cold. I even chill my flour. But I live in South Florida where it is always warm. Sometimes when I’m rolling out my dough it will start getting too soft and I pop it in the fridge for 10 or 15 minutes and then keep on going. As to the type of pie dish I use, I use glass Pyrex pie plates. I read recently that a metal pie dish actually works best for crisping up the crust, but I like to be able to see the bottom of my crust and know if it’s baked well or not. As to your husband’s mother’s apple pies, well, all I can say to that is how wonderful! But he hasn’t tasted your plum pie yet. Right? I’m here to help if you have any questions. Anytime.

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