Oh yeah, I went there.
It’s okay. I promise you this is a very, very good thing.
I had pie on my mind when I woke up this morning (perfectly normal) and finally decided upon peach after visiting a roadside farm stand around lunchtime and finding the most beautiful tree ripened peaches that were about the size of my head. Now I’m going to tell you a little secret: I don’t make pies.
No really, I don’t. Before today I’ve only made one in my entire life while in culinary school and it was sort of a flop. The apple filling boiled over the flaky pie crust and the end result was not what they would call a pretty picture. So, like I said, I don’t really make pies.
That should go to show you though that if I can make a pie from scratch, you can too! Peaches are at their absolute peak right now and the end result is a perfectly flaky crust filled with tender slices of sweet peaches tossed with only a little sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and cornstarch. When you use fresh seasonal ingredients you really don’t need to work too hard to make the end result triumphant. Follow my lead and I’ll have you there in no time.
First, let’s start with the dough. And I really don’t want to get into the whole Crisco debate right now. I just washed about thirty dishes by hand and quite frankly, I don’t have the strength. You can think and do whatever you like of course, but the truth is that to achieve perfect flaky pie crust, you’ve gotta hit the shortening. Butter won’t get you there and butter substitutes surely won’t either. Trust me, I’ve messed around with both and have been forced to acknowledge the greasy truth on more than one account.
So here’s what you need for success:
First things first, stick six ounces of water, two cups of Crisco and four and a half cups of flour all in the freezer. This will make enough dough for about two pies but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Now walk away. Come back an hour later. Sorry!!!
When you return to your freezer, your water should appear to look like this:
You want everything really, really, REALLY cold. The colder your ingredients are, the better the crust will be. Freezing your shortening keeps the gluten development low in the flour and that’s what gives you a super flaky crust.
So when you are ready to finally start making the crust, dump your four and a half cups of all purpose flour into a large bowl. Add two teaspoons of salt and one tablespoon of sugar.
Cut in one and three fourths cup shortening (if you buy the stick kind that means two sticks minus two tablespoons) and blend well with your fingers, rubbing the flour and the shortening together.
Work the shortening and the flour together enough so the mixture almost starts to resemble a dough, like this:
Now, pour in your six ounces of ice water
It’s going to feel all wrong and sloppy, but trust me….it will come together. Just mix together the best you can than flip out onto a floured surface.
And now (are you ready for this?), put the big hunk of dough back in the freezer! Chill the pie dough for about thirty minutes, which is just enough time to wash your dishes (a dishwasher? What’s that?) and prepare the filling.
Here’s what you need for the peach filling:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove and gently drop in the peaches for about ten seconds. This will cause the skin to just slip right off.
It’s an easy way to peel a peach!
Just use your fingers to peel back the skin and then rinse the peaches under cold water and pat dry
Slice each peach in half and remove the pit—-
Mmmm I just LOVE peaches in the summer, don’t you?? Slice each peach by turning the halves over to the pit side is facing down and then just use your knife to make even slices.
It’s peachy, baby!
Eat a peach slice or two and then put the slices in a large bowl and sprinkle with one fourth cup sugar
a sprinkle of cinnamon
a teaspoon of vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
And a tablespoon and a half of cornstarch. Mix everything up so it looks just like this:
And set the bowl aside. Time to roll out the pie dough! Sprinkle your work surface with flour and then get your hunka hunka dough back out from the freezer. Slice the big dough ball in two and stick the other half back in.
Most people probably would use a rolling pin in a situation such as this, but I prefer a wine bottle because that’s just how I roll
Humor me. Please.
Anyways, moving on. Roll your out your dough and place your greased pie dish on top
Slowly cut around the dish, leaving about a half inch of dough on the sides
And now gently (GENTLY) pick up the dough and quickly scoop it into the dish. This is the hardest part of the entire thing, I assure you.
Use your fingers to press the extra dough around the edges a little bit…rather have too much hanging over the side than too little! And I’m a crust girl, I’ll tell ya.
Now use a fork to prick the entire bottom of the dough—this is called “docking”
And gently pour in your peach filling, making sure it’s all even and not overflowing (remember the apple pie incident? Learn from my mistakes)
Set the filled pie aside and preheat your oven to 400. Grab the remaining hunk of dough from the freezer.
Roll, drink, repeat and then use a pastry cutter to cut one inch ribbons of dough. I got a pastry cutter for four dollars from a cooking store in town….you can probably find them at Target, too, though.
We clearly aren’t aiming for perfection here. Friends, this is why I don’t do intricate dessert preparation such as wedding cakes….I have no patience for them and prefer rustic baked goods such as breads and pies.
Now, gently weave the dough ribbons on the pie.
This might take some practice but trust me, if you can basket weave you can make a woven lattice top pie. Just dig real far back into your memory of weaving baskets at church camp when you were seven and you’ll be golden. Again, this isn’t a competition….rustic pies need love, too.
When you are finished weaving, let the excess dough just hang off the pie for a moment while you catch your breath and say a quick prayer
And then, ever so gently, cut the remaining dough from around the pie and gently smoosh together the dough ribbons and the crust.
WE ARE SO CLOSE!!!!!!!!!
Make an easy egg wash from one egg yolk and a little warm water:
And carefully brush it all over the top of the pie.
You can use a pastry brush for this step, a meat basting brush or even your fingers. Go hog wild.
Ta-dahhhh! Bake for about thirty four minutes, or until the crust is golden.
Ahhh the fruits of your labor. This pie is best served warm or at room temperature with vanilla bean ice cream or freshly whipped cream. You could also make the filling with canned peaches, if peaches aren’t in season where you are. Or, go crazy with blueberries or apples. The sky’s the limit once you master the crust!
Here’s the recipe:
Fresh Peach Pie
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (COLD)
1 3/4 cup shortening, cubed (COLD)
6 ounces cold, cold water (ICY)
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
about 5 cups sliced peaches (about three large peaches or five small peaches—give or take, I rarely measure)
1/4 cup sugar
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
juice of one lemon
pinch of ground cinnamon
Blend together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and work everything together with your fingers. Pour in the water and mix only until just combined (it will be wet!). Turn out dough on a floured surface and form a ball, then stick in the freezer for at least thirty minutes and up to a few months! While the dough is chilling, start on the filling.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove. Drop in the peaches and simmer for ten seconds. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and peel back the skin. Rinse each peach under cold running water and then pat dry. Slice each peach in half, remove the pit, and then slice. Toss in a bowl with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon and cinnamon. Stir to combine and set aside.
Bring your dough out from the freezer, cut in half and put one half back in. Roll out on a floured surface and carefully place rolled out dough in a greased pie dish, letting extra dough hang off the sides. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork and then pour the peach filling in the dough. Set aside.
Grab your other hunk of dough from the freezer and roll out. Cut into long ribbons with a pastry cutter (or just a knife) and weave on top of the pie. Cut extra dough off the sides and mush together with your fingers. Make an egg wash with one yolk and a little warm water and gently brush all over the top of the pie. Bake at 400 degrees for about 34 minutes or until golden.