Jean Hewitt’s Cream Plum Pie

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Three reasons I love Jean Hewitt’s 1968 NYTimes Large Type Cookbook? Great typography, whimsical woodcuts and sophisticated recipes that work. This cognac-laced custard pie with orange/plum/nut topping is an adult-palate-pleasing example. Hewitt put this book together seven years after joining NYTimes as an assistant to Craig Claiborne. I can’t help but think that this pie reflects Jean’s tastes and English roots. It’s reprinted here with permission from Jean’s son, Gordon Hewitt.

Makes one 9- or 10-inch pie

Plum conserve topping Ingredients

  • 4 cups pitted sliced purple (or red) plums
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 cup sliverd, blanched almonds
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk, scalded
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp cognac
  • ½ cup heavy cream, whipped


  1. Baked 9 or 10-inch pie shell, cooled
  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix plums with sugar and place in a roasting pan with lid, or cover with aluminum foil. Bake about 1 hour until plums are cooked and mixture starts to thicken. Stir in marmalade, almonds and lemon juice. Chill
  3. Make filling: Soften gelatin in cold water. Mix together sugar, flour and salt; gradually stir in milk. Pour mixture into top of double boiler and beat, stirring over direct heat until mixture thickens. Cook, covered, over boiling water 10 minutes more. Stir some of the hot mixture into egg yolks to temper them. Return egg yolk mixture to pan and cook until thickened—about five minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Add butter and gelatin and mix well. Cool. Add cognac. Fold in whipped cream and pour into pie shell. Chill. Use plum topping as a border, or spread all over pie before serving.

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