A spicy-sweet, fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth, no-guilt treat! Sharon fruit is a honey-tasting variant of persimmon which is in season in late autumn to winter. This pie is gluten-free and dairy-free, but full of flavour.
For the pie crust:
- 100g gluten-free plain flour
- 40g porridge oats
- 65g ground almonds
- 65g very finely chopped pecans; plus additional whole nuts for decoration
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or regular veg oil)
- 4 tablespoons maple, agave, or golden syrup; runny honey will do as well
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the pie filling:
- 3 Sharon fruit (will yield approx. 375g when pureed)
- 2 large eggs, separated (they should total 135 – 140g when weighed in their shells)
- 2 tablespoons maple, agave, or golden syrup
- 2 tablespoons runny honey
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- A deep-sided, round, loose-based pie or flan tin (at least 5cm deep and 23-24cm in diameter)
- 2 large mixing bowls
- Stick blender or food processor
- Electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
- Spatula, or large metal spoon, for folding
- A cooling rack
- Preheat oven to 190 C (170 C fan-assisted).
- Mix the crust ingredients together in a bowl with a fork until fully moistened and combined. Press the mixture into the pie/flan tin with your hands, ensuring the crust goes at least 3/4 up the sides. Use your knuckles around the bottom edge to ensure it isn’t too thick there. Prick the bottom and sides all over lightly with a fork (it will puff up if you don’t), and bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the crust is baking, prepare the Sharon fruit (see Footnote), and puree in a food processor or in a bowl with a stick blender. Add all of the remaining filling ingredients except the egg whites, and whizz together until frothy and fully combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed as the colour and texture change. Using a spatula or metal spoon, fold 1/3 of the whites briskly into the fruit mixture to loosen. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold carefully until no white lumps or streaks remain.
- Pour the filling into the crust, and smooth the top. Lay out the reserved whole pecans, using 1 or 2 to mark each serving.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the pie/flan dish for even baking, then turn the oven down to 170 C (150 C fan-assisted) and bake for a further 15 minutes. The filling should be golden brown, and the visible edging of crust not too dark.
- Remove the pie from the oven to a cooling rack and leave for 10 minutes, then remove the side. Let the pie fully cool before sliding off the tin bottom, and serve.
Preparing Sharon Fruit
Scrub each fruit well in running water. Pull off the ‘flower’ around the top, then slice each fruit in half lengthwise. Make a V-cut and remove any hard white center core from each half, similar to removing the white core from a tomato. (Riper fruits may not have any hard core at all.)
Sharon fruit peel is edible; when very ripe, the peel is quite thin, similar to apples or pears. In less ripe fruit it will be thicker – in which case you want to peel it, or rub the flesh from it, so you don’t have hard lumps in your finished pie.
Non Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free Version
I’ve made this pie using a 250g packet of Ginger Nuts, crushed with 75g melted butter for the crumb crust. Although I’m old-skool with my mortar & pestle, you could crush the biscuits by bashing them with a rolling pin or meat tenderiser mallet in a sealed plastic bag. The ginger taste really complemented the Sharon fruit filling, but you could use any biscuits you like. Just pre-bake the crust for no more than 8-10 minutes when doing so.