There’s no perfect peach pie. We just have to keep baking them and keep eating them. Bummer, right? One of the best traditions I’ve created for my adult life is making a peach pie for my birthday. But this year the peaches didn’t obey the will of my calendar so I was waiting… waiting… waiting for them. Finally, the other day my neighbor hollered across the pasture: “COME GET SOME PEACHES!” To which I responded, “Oh, hi. I’m already at your door because I started running as soon as you said peaches.”
And her tree was just exploding with fruit. An abundance of riches! A preponderance of peaches!
I used this pie as an excuse to try out a few new ideas that have been rattling around in my brain lately. (Some of these may be familiar to you if you read our weekly e-mail newsletter, The Fork. What, you don’t get it? Sign up now!) First, I wanted to try out the idea that disposable aluminum pie pans do the best job of browning the bottom crust. Second, I wanted to see if I could make the filling crystal-clear and non-soupy using a modified cornstarch, coveted by pie nerds, called ClearJel. You can buy it online. I happened to find a 1-pound bag for $4.29 at The Specialty Shop in Albuquerque (5823 Lomas Blvd. NE, 266-1212). It comes in instant or regular; either works here.
Last but not least, I really, really wanted to not peel the peaches. Because OMG WTF such a PITA. And I found you can’t even tell the skins are there. I want all those peach-peeling hours of my life back! The pie turned out great. And before adjusting the recipe I had way too much filling and crust, so I assembled two mini pies and put them in the freezer.
- About 2 pounds fresh peaches, pitted and sliced
- 1/4 cup ClearJel (or quick-cooking tapioca)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg white (for egg wash, optional)
- Sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- Prepare the pie crusts and chill the disks of dough for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar and ClearJel, breaking up any lumps.
- De-fuzz the peaches by using a kitchen towel to gently rub off as much fuzz as you can.
- Slice the peaches and add them to the sugar mixture along with the vanilla and cinnamon.
- Roll out one of the disks of dough until it’s a little less than 12 inches in diameter. Gently lift it into the pie plate.
- Fill it with the peach mixture.
- Roll out the second disk and either use it whole or cut it into lattice strips or other shapes. Somehow, get a top crust over that pie, fold the edges of the top crust over the bottom, tuck them in and press them together. Crimp them some way that makes you happy. (I make a C with the thumb and forefinger of my left hand and put it on the outside edge of the crust, then press my right thumb on to the top crust into the opening of the C.)
- Put the pie on a baking sheet that will catch any stray drips.
- Stir the egg white together with a little water, brush it over the surface and sprinkle the pie with sugar.
- Bake the pie about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until it’s golden brown.
- Allow the pie to rest and cool before you slice it. You just worked really hard to not make a soupy pie, so don’t ruin it now. That filling needs a little time to set.
If you’re really using an 8-inch disposable pie plate you’ll have too much dough here; plan to make an extra mini pie or some rugelach with the extra dough. If you have a little extra peach filling you can make a little hand pie or two.
If you don’t have a food processor you can cut the fat into the flour using a dough cutter or two butter knives, or just smear it in with your hands. Use what ya got.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
- 1/2 cup cold lard or Crisco
- 6 tablespoons (more or less) ice water
- Put the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal cutting blade. Cut the butter and Crisco into chunks and toss it in.
- Whir until it looks like wet sand and pea gravel. Dump the mixture into a bowl and add the water a little bit at a time, tossing gently with a spoon between each addition. Stop when you can gather it into a ball and it mostly sticks together.
- Divide the dough into three equal parts and wrap each in waxed paper or plastic wrap.
- Chill 30 minutes.