Blog

Well-crafted stories and expert culinary insights

06
Aug 2015

Peachy Peach Peach

So many peaches! I was gifted a flat of the luxuriant organic peaches from Frog Hollow Farm a couple of weeks ago. The farm’s east of San Francisco, but their peaches are–thankfully–made available at Metropolitan Markets  in the Seattle area each summer. When that box landed in my kitchen, the first and most automatic impulse was to make peachpiepie. Summer fruit pies are one of the most delicious hallmarks of the season, this one timed perfectly to share with friends on a weekend get-away. Next came the batch of ice cream, made with luscious Twin Brooks Creamery half & half, which I infused with a generous handful of lemon verbena from the garden. Oh so very good (even better with a tiny splash of dark rum drizzled over!). And my morning ritual of fruit-yogurt-granola was made a little extra special with the chopped up juicy peaches.

I have consumed the last of the fruit from that box, thought happy to have the ice cream still tucked away in the freezer. It’s a delightful challenge to have some culinary fun with the peak-season fruits during their all too brief appearance in stores. Creating recipes for my Stone Fruit cookbook a decade ago was particularly enjoyable, working peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines and apricots into all types of recipes, from breakfast through soups, salads, main courses and, certainly dessert. After all–as versatile as the fruits may be, sometimes a simple, classic pie is what you really want.

Deep-Dish Peach Pie

This recipe was first published in the Stone Fruit cookbook from my Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series. The original recommends a classic lattice topping with its distinctive woven effect. But time was tight when I made this most recent pie, so I simply used kitchen shears to snip slits in the top crust, a very time-friendly option!

4 pounds peaches
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground or grated nutmeg
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Pie Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For the pie crust, combine the flour, sugar, orange zest (if using), and salt in a food processor and pulse once to mix. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse until the butter is finely chopped and the flour mixture has a coarse sandy texture. Add the egg yolk and lemon juice, pulse once, and then add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition. It’s important not to overmix the dough or it will be tough rather than flaky. The dough will not form a ball in the machine, but has the proper amount of liquid if squeezing some of the dough between your fingers feels neither dusty dry nor sticky. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and form it into a ball. Cut the dough in 2 pieces, one a bit larger than the other (about 2/3 to 1/3), form each into discs about 1 inch thick, and wrap them in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bring a large pan of water to a boil. When the water boils, add a few peaches and boil until the skin begins to split, about 30 seconds. Scoop out the peaches with a slotted spoon and let cool while blanching the remaining peaches.

Put the orange juice and vanilla in a large bowl. Working with one peach at a time, peel away the skin, pit the peach, and then cut it into 1-inch slices. Add the slices to the bowl, tossing gently to coat with the orange juice, which will help keep the peaches from discoloring. Continue with the remaining peaches, tossing each gently into the others in the bowl. When all the peaches have been sliced, sprinkle the cornstarch, sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the peaches and quickly toss to evenly coat them. Set aside while preparing the crust.

Remove the larger dough portion from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured board to a circle about 15 inches across (let the dough sit for a few minutes to soften just a bit if it’s too firm to roll out). Line a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan with the dough so that the overhang is more or less even all around and pressing the dough well down into the corners. Gently toss the peach mixture one last time, and then spoon it into the crust, mounding it slightly in the center.

Roll out the remaining dough to a circle about 12 inches across. Using a fluted pastry cutter, a pizza cutter, or a sharp knife and a clean straight-edge as a guide, cut the dough into strips about 3/4 inch wide. Lay some of the strips across the peach filling horizontally, leaving about a 1 inch gap between each. Fold every-other strip back on top of itself just to the mid-point of the filling. Lay another long strip perpendicularly across the remaining strips and up against those folded strips. Unfold the folded strips over that new strip, and fold back the alternate strips, folding them back to the point where the perpendicular strip is covering them. Again, lay a new strip across the remaining strips. Repeat this process, folding back the alternating halves of strips until you reach the outer edge of the crust. Do the same from the center out to the other edge of the crust.

Combine the egg and water in a small bowl and beat with a fork to blend, making an egg wash for the pie crust. Using kitchen shears or a small knife, trim the lattice strip ends to lay about 1/2-inch over the bottom crust edge. Brush the crust edge and the lattice topping lightly with the egg wash. Trim the bottom crust overhang to about 1 inch and fold it up over the lattice ends to fully enclose them. Using the tines of a fork or your fingers, crimp the edges of the crust to firmly seal and make a decorative finish. Brush the crust rim again with egg wash.

Bake the pie until the crust is well browned and the filling is bubbling up through the lattice, about 1 hour. In case the filling bubbles over the edge of the pan, you might want to add a baking sheet on the rack below the pie to catch drips. Lay a piece of foil loosely over the pie if the crust is well-browned before the pie is fully cooked. Let the pie sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

Makes 8 to 12 servings