That’s right, I had a slice of peach pie for dinner last night. Was it weakness or inspiration? The chocolate chip cookies for dessert… well, maybe that was weakness, but the pie… the pie was inspired. Fresh-baked on Saturday for the fourth of July, I knew the moment I saw the recipe on the pages of Gourmet that I had to have it. Honey Caramel Peach Pie. My precious.
That little scoop of ice cream is not what you’re thinking. Yes, I can read your mind. But no, it’s not vanilla. It’s sour cream ice cream. Crazy, right? More on that tomorrow. Today we are talking about pie.
Peach pie to be exact. Peaches are one of my favorite summer fruits. Being from the Peach state has nothing to do with it. They are just good. Juicy, sweet… there’s even a song about them. Come on, sing it with me…
Movin’ to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches… If I had my little way, I’d eat peaches everyday… Nature’s candy in my hand or can or pie… Millions of peaches, peaches for me… (“Peaches” by Presidents of the United States of America). That’s right, peaches give you the strength to fight ninjas.
Now, I don’t make a lot of pies so the crust was a bit of a patch job. In the end, it was not so bad given all the cracks and holes I started with. One of my patches sprang a leak from the pressure of the hot peach juices pushing their way out. But that just gave me the opportunity to taste a little nibble of the crust with the peachy-goodness before we cut into the pie.
To be honest, making this pie was a little more work than I usually undertake for baked goods. I’ve got my methods down for cookies and cupcakes so they don’t take much effort at all. But sometimes it is nice to stretch out of the comfort zone. Try something more challenging. And for a special occasion, put forth that extra bit of effort. I still find pie crusts to be intimidating. And peeling and slicing three pounds of peaches was a slippery endeavor. But it was well worth it. I enjoyed the process of rolling out the crust, shaping it, and crimping the edges. I think pies take a little more love… and definitely more patience. I mean, we let it cool for hours and hours before tasting the first slice. Cookies and cupcakes you can sneak one or two and no one has to know…
Honey Caramel Peach Pie (adapted from Gourmet, July 2009)
3 pounds ripe peaches
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/4 cup mild honey
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
All-butter pastry dough (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon whole milk
1. Cut an X in the bottom of each peach, then blanch them in boiling water for 15 seconds. (I did batches of 3). Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop the cooking.
2. Peel the peaches and cut into 1-inch thick wedges. * Be careful. These suckers are slippery.
3. In a large bowl, toss the peaches well with cornstarch, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.
4. Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in the lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. ** You or who ever is doing the dishes will be glad you lined it with foil in the end… there will be a lot of juices.
5. Bring 1/2 cup sugar, honey, and water to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from the side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.
6. Boil without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber. About 5 minutes (mine took just under 4 minutes).
7. Remove from the heat and add butter, swirling the pan until butter is melted.
8. Pour over fruit and toss. *The caramel may harden but will melt in the oven.
9. Roll out 1 piece of dough into a 13-inch round, fit it into a 9-inch pie plate. (keep second piece of dough chilled).
10. Roll out 2nd piece of dough into an 11-inch round. (keep pie shell chilled while doing this)
11. Transfer filling to pie shell, mounding it. Cover with 11-inch pastry round. Trim with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang (I didn’t have much to trim, so I just skipped the shears).
12. Press edges together, then crimp decoratively.
13. Brush the top with milk then sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a paring knife.
14. Bake pie on hot baking sheet for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes more.
15. *The hardest step* – Cool pie to room temperature, about 3-4 hours.
All-butter pastry dough (adapted from Gourmet, July 2009)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup plus 1 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1. Put dry ingredients in the food processor. Give it a pulse or two to mix it up.
2. Add butter and pulse until it resembles coarse meal.
3. Drizzle 1/3 cup water over the mixture and pulse until incorporated.
4. Squeeze a small handful of dough. If it doesn’t hold together, add more water (1 tablespoon at a time) and pulse to incorporate. Test another handful. Repeat just until the dough holds together.
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 chunks. With the heel of your hand, smear each piece once or twice in a forward motion (to distribute the fat).
6. Gather dough together and press into a ball. Divide ball in half and shape into 2 discs.
7. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill, at least 1 hour. (I chilled mine overnight and then let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before rolling it out).