It’s not exactly plum season, but it’s certainly chai season.
The traditional Indian tea has become popular the world over, where it’s often erroneously referred to as “chai tea,” which is repetitive. Chai is the name for tea, and everyone has an opinion about the best way to make and enjoy it.
Some cooks insist on making it from scratch with whole cardamom pods and fresh ginger, while others like the addition of cloves and cinnamon. Of course, there are plenty of tea lovers who are perfectly happy sipping on chai that you can make from what’s in a tea bag.
If you’re looking for a chai to make in your slow cooker this weekend, you’ll find a recipe from the American Heart Association below, but for a real chai treat this weekend, check out the following plum chai pie recipe from Jerrelle Guy’s “Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing” (Page Street Publishing, $21.99).
Guy grew up in Florida learning how to cook from her Southern grandmother. She now lives in Boston, where she writes the blog Chocolate for Basil, and her debut baking book is filled with decadent, nostalgic desserts and even some savory crackers, dips, pizzas and flatbreads.
For this flavorful pie, Guy takes several notable ingredients found in chai and pulverizes them into a powder. (You’ll need a spice grinder or a powerful food processor for this task.) Note that Guy’s pie recipe calls for starting with whole ingredients and the American Heart Association’s uses already-ground spices and ginger. If you don’t want to grind your own spices for the plum chai pie, please feel free to use estimated quantities of ground spices.
Plum Chai Pie
From “Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing” by Jerrelle Guy (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)
• For the crust:
2¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes, or very cold virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ cup ice cold water, plus more if needed
• For the chai spice mix:
2 sticks cinnamon
20 cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
1 teaspoons fennel seeds
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
• For the filling:
5 to 6 plums, pitted and sliced
1-inch thumb fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ cup pure cane sugar
Juice of 1 lemon and zest of ½ lemon
¼ cup flour
Nut or grain milk or cream, for brushing
Raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, and then toss in the cubes of butter. Cut the butter into the flour using your hands or a pastry cutter until the flour is a little crumbly, but there are still pieces of butter the size of flattened chickpeas. Add the vinegar and the cold water, 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring gently and compressing with your hands just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in half, shape the halves into disks, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
To make the chai spice, grind the spices in a food processor into a powder. To make the filling, combine sliced plums, grated ginger, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour and the chai spice blend. Toss everything together to coat and let it sit and marinate for a few minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees and have a 9-inch pie plate nearby.
Remove one of the chilled disks of dough from the fridge. Using a lightly dusted rolling pin, roll it into a ¼ inch-thick round on a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough over the rolling pin to help ease it into the pie dish, making sure to fill out all the corners of the dish. Leave a 1-inch overhang, and trim off excess. Fill the pan with the plums and all their juices.
Remove the other disk of dough from the fridge, roll it out into a ¼ inch-thick round and drape it on top of the fruit, also trimming off all but a 1-inch overhang from the dough. Pinch the edges of the crusts together to seal. Cut a few slits in the middle of the top crust so steam can release when it bakes. Place the pie in the freezer for another 10 minutes to chill the butter in the crust.
Remove the pie from the freezer, and brush the crust with milk. Sprinkle with the raw sugar and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Slow Cooker Chai
From “Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook” by the American Heart Association
You can strain the tea through a fine-mesh sieve to remove most of them or through a coffee filter to remove even more.
4 cups water
2 cups milk
2 cups half and half
¼ cup sugar (optional)
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
8 single-serving bags of black tea
In the slow cooker, stir together all the ingredients except the tea bags. Add the tea bags, letting the tags hang over the side of the slow cooker. Cook, covered, on high for 3 to 3½ hours. Discard the tea bags. For hot tea, serve immediately. For cold tea, ladle the tea into a pitcher and refrigerate, covered for up to three days. Serve the tea hot or over ice.