Best of the Season Week: Peach Pie - Sweet Potato Chronicles

Best of the Season Week: Peach Pie

I really don't think of myself as a baker. I'm not one of those Moms who's always got a jar of home­made cook­ies on the counter. Luck­ily for me, our babysit­ter Stacey is a great baker and she and Esme reg­u­larly whip up some treats. In fact, a post of their famous banana choco­late chip mini muffins is com­ing soon. But I've been spend­ing a lot of time with Kim Boyce's fab­u­lous book, Good to the Grain which looks at bak­ing with bar­ley, oat, rye, quinoa and teff flours, among oth­ers, and get­ting inspired to branch out. Many of our read­ers would rather dial back the amount of white flour they cook with, so Laura and I have been hav­ing fun exper­i­ment­ing with alter­na­tives. Which means my cup­boards are a dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen — all those bags of exotic flours pre­car­i­ously wedged in there. These are things I do for you, lovely readers!

Okay, back to my point: I'm not really a baker. Until I made this pie. I mean, look at it! I won't lie to you, it was more work than I'm typ­i­cally pre­pared to put into a dessert. But you know how some­times you pour all of your angst into some­thing arbi­trary? That. Julian is start­ing day­care and I find any change to our child­care wildly stress­ful. Every time we have any kind of change in that arena I'm sure it's all going to hell and I had bet­ter just give up try­ing to work at all. And then it all works out and every­one is fine. At today's drop off, the first day I was really leav­ing and not just hang­ing out there with him, he barely looked up from the train he was clutch­ing and gave me a cheery, " Bye-bye Mama!" He was cry­ing on the inside, right? You'd think four and half years into this whole par­ent­ing  deal I'd have learned to skip the stress. But no. While it may seem like a ridicu­lous leap in logic, this lat­tice topped pie became a bit of a fix­a­tion for me. I had to get it right. I was sure it wasn't going to work. It worked!  Are you not­ing a pat­tern here?

This recipe is a mash up of two Kim Boyce recipes — one from her cook­book and one from a pie fea­ture she pro­duced in the lat­est issue of Bon Appetit. The results were great. It's one of the best look­ing things I've ever made but it was deli­cious, too. I love the nutty flavour you get from spelt flour and if you make this while peaches are in sea­son — right now! hurry! — it's pretty much heaven.

pho­tos by Maya Visnyei

Spelt Pie Dough

1 1/3 cups spelt flour
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 stick of unsalted but­ter, cold
1/4 cup veg­etable short­en­ing (such as Crisco)
1/2 cup ice water

Pie Fill­ing

4 lbs peaches (about 12 peaches)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp corn­starch
1/4 tsp nut­meg
1 egg

Method

To make the pie dough, sift the dry ingre­di­ents together in a bowl. Cut the cold but­ter into small 1/4 inch pieces and toss them into the flour mix­ture. Add the short­en­ing to the flour as well. Using your fin­gers, rub and pinch the but­ter and short­en­ing, break­ing them into pea size pieces. Keep toss­ing the flour around as you do it so each piece of but­ter and short­en­ing gets coated. Work quickly so that the but­ter and short­en­ing don't get too warm and soft.

Add the 1/4 cup of ice water to the flour and but­ter combo. Use your hands to bring the dough together. If it's too dry to come together, add more ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time.

Sprin­kle your work sur­face with a bit of flour. Pinch off about 2 Tbsp's of dough at a time, put that piece on your floured work sur­face and push the heel of your hand on and it push it away from your­self. This fancy tech­nique is called frais­age and you're flat­ten­ing and smear­ing the but­ter pieces within the dough cre­at­ing a flaky crumb for your even­tual crust. Keep work­ing until you've frais­aged every bit of the dough. Put it all back together into two equal balls. Wrap each one in plas­tic wrap  and pop it in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 3 days.

To make the fill­ing you can start by blanch­ing the peaches. I know, I know, it's feel­ing like a lot of steps here, right? Strictly speak­ing, this pie would be the bomb if you didn't add this extra step but it's really not that hard and does take it to another level. With a small knife, make an X a the end (not the stem end) of each peach. Put a big pot of water on to boil. Pop 3 or 4 peaches in the boil­ing water at a time. They only need to be in there for about 15 sec­onds. Scoop them out with a slot­ted spoon and put them in a colan­der in the sink. Keep blanch­ing until you've done all of your peaches. The skins will be very easy to slip off because of the X but you can use a small knife to pull away any skin that doesn't come away with a gen­tle tug.

Take the pie out of the fridge and place it on the counter so it has a chance to warm up and become pliable.

Now pit and slice your peaches into 1/2 inch pieces. Place all of your peach pieces into a gen­er­ous bowl. Sprin­kle 1/2 cup of sugar over the fruit and stir it together gen­tly. Let that sit on the counter for an hour, giv­ing it a lit­tle stir every once in awhile. Strain the fruit with a sieve over another bowl. Reserve a cup of that liq­uid in a small bowl. Put your peaches back into the big­ger bowl. Whisk corn­starch, nut­meg and the fruit liq­uid in the small bowl. Stir that liq­uid into the fruit.

Pre­heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out one of your balls of dough on a lightly floured sur­face into a 13 to 14 inch round. Roll over your rolling pin and and gen­tly trans­fer to your bak­ing pan. Don't worry if the edges are torn or uneven — you're going to be crimp­ing the edges at the end. Gen­tly press the dough into the pan, mak­ing sure its snug into the edges. Leave about an inch of over hang.

Roll out your sec­ond ball of dough into a 14 inch round. Cut the dough into 3/4 inch wide strips. You want at least ten of them.

Pour the fruit mix­ture into the unbaked pie crust. Okay, here's the tricky part. It would have been really smart to take pic­tures of this, right? But Maya and I were so engrossed with cre­at­ing the lat­tice we for­got — sorry! Place half of your strips, arrange par­al­lel rows across the pie, spac­ing evenly. Fold every other strip back on itself to just beyond the mid­way point of the pie. Lay one long strip of dough over the mid­dle of the pie per­pen­dic­u­lar (the other direc­tion!) to the rest. Lift your folded ends up and unfold them back into posi­tion. Keep those lines straight! Are you with me? Now take the strips that are under the perpendicular/cross strip and fold them back on them­selves. Now place another strip par­al­lel to your first per­pen­dic­u­lar strip and lay it across the pie, leav­ing a lit­tle space between them. Unfold the folded back strips. Fold back the first strips again and place a third per­pen­dic­u­lar strip across the pie. Unfold those strips. Now turn the pie around and work back in the same way on the other side. Phew. Trim excess and pinch together the lat­tice edges with the over hang of the bot­tom crust. Don't worry to much about mak­ing a beau­ti­ful crimp.

Beat an egg and brush the egg over the pie. Now sprin­kle that 1 Tbsp of sugar over the top. Place the pie on a bak­ing sheet and pop it in the hot oven. Bake for 40 min­utes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for about another 40 min­utes until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bub­bling. Allow to cool really well before slic­ing in!

  

10 Comments

  1. This looks like sun­shine in a pie plate.

  2. Julia says:

    For not being a baker, you did a GREAT job. Looks amazing!

  3. This is GORGEOUS and im sure tastes so fab­u­lous. Theres few things more sum­mery than a juicy ripe peach and this pie recipe looks per­fect. Def­i­nitely sav­ing this one for if i can resist eat­ing the next lot of peaches that come my way for long enough to make them into some­thing scrummy like this :)

  4. Ceri Marsh says:

    Let me know if you try it!

  5. Ceri Marsh says:

    Well, thank you, Miss!

  6. Ceri Marsh says:

    Thanks, Mary! There's some­thing about a home made pie that makes peo­ple feel happy, huh?

  7. Looks like a tasty woven jamaican mat­tress. A won­der­ful creativity!

  8. Lisa says:

    This looks fan­tas­tic! the crust sounds inter­est­ing.
    Try­ing to fig­ure out how I can find time to make it this week.
    I am seven years into par­ent­ing and still get that same feel­ing you men­tion — that it can never work, and then it does! maybe that's the life lesson

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