There are a couple of signs summer’s upon us: the temperature gauge in your car, the lack of clothing on the people around you, old folks waving magazines and newspapers hoping to catch a breeze, and peaches hitting the farmers stand. Of all these signs, I like the peaches the best! They’re subtly soft, sugary-sweet and delicious, sliced over yogurt in the morning and again over ice cream at night.
I ALWAYS buy too many peaches. I share them with everyone and still have a bunch that are screaming for me to use them up. Often, I bake them into crumbles. In my recent book, Canvas and Cuisine, I used them in a homemade ice cream recipe.
This season, I’ve done the unthinkable. I opted to use the last handful of peaches and make a good old-fashioned peach pie. Caveat here. I’m not the best baker in the world. I often leave desserts to my best pals to bring to my group dinners. But, I’m older…. bolder …. and have more time on my hands, so I thought I would give it (yet another) try. And, guess what! We have SUCCESS!
I used Ina’s pie crust recipe. Why not stick with the expert? And, I did two things I had not tried before. First, I peeled the peaches using the same method that I use to peel tomatoes. Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Drop a couple of peaches into the boiling water for just about 10 to 12 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peaches to a bowl filled with ice water. Use a sharp paring knife to peel off the soft skin. It works!
The second thing I did was to drain the seasoned, sliced peaches through a colander before pouring them into the crust. In the past, my fruit pies are often so juicy, the bottom crust becomes soggy. Since I drained most of the juice away, the crust remained firm and the peaches still produced plenty of juicy liquid.
Caveat number two. If it is just too hot to bake a pie, here’s is a simple way to use those peaches (and summer pitted cherries!).
Feel like a Tart?
Roll out a thawed puff pastry crust. Place it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon-sugar and roll up the edges to form a fluted border. Pierce the bottom of the dough with the tines of a fork. Arrange slices of peaches over the dough, and dot with halved pitted cherries. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar. Bake until the crust is golden, about 10 to 15 minutes at 400°. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Super easy and super sweet.
Mine and Ina’s Peach Pie
1 hr and 15 minute cuisine
Serves 4 to 6 for dessert
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup very cold vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
½ cup ice water
8 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
Juice of ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons butter (egg wash)
Cut the butter into tiny pieces and return it to the refrigerator. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out onto a floured board and roll into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the peaches into a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the peaches with the dry ingredients and gently toss.
Roll each disk on a well-floured board into a circle at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough so it doesn’t stick to the board. (You should see bits of butter in the dough.) Fold one circle of dough in half, ease it into the pie pan without stretching at all, and unfold to fit the pan. Brush the bottom of the crust with some of the egg wash, and pierce with the tines of a fork. Use a colander to drain the peaches. Pour the drained peaches into the crust. Gently place the second circle of dough onto the top of the pie. Fold the edges under and crimp together using your fingers or the tines of a fork. Pierce the top crust with the tip of a paring knife making small slits and brush with some of the egg wash. Place the pie pan onto a baking sheet and bake until the top crust is golden, and the filling is bubbling, about 45 to 50 minutes.