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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

It’s PEACH SEASON! I’m not sure which season I love more: peach, corn, apple, berry, asparagus, or winter squash. We were invited to dinner at the home of B’s coworkers for whom we would be house-sitting for the following week and I, of course, volunteered to bring dessert. Since it is peach season, peaches are a favorite of mine, and pies are a bit fancy, I decided to make peach pie. The first place I turned to for a recipe was Smitten Kitchen, my kitchen heroine. I also looked at Gourmet for a change as well, and they didn’t have much for peach pie, but what they did have looked interesting. I sent the 2 frontrunners to B, and he chose the Gourmet pie because it, “seems more difficult. Therefore you should do it. Experiment. :)” He knows my issues with cooking sugar (they’re usually not pretty), plus I really thought he’d pick the crème fraîche (being French and all).

Hypothesis:

I hope this effort is worth it, and please let me not burn the sugar!!

Materials:

Pie recipe from Gourmet.com. Crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Crust:

Filling:

  • 3lbs local ripe peaches
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp AP flour
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Honey Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup local honey
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter

Topping:

  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp demerara sugar
Tools:
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Pastry cutter
  • Rolling pin
  • Plastic wrap
  • Pie plate (9 or 9.5 inches)
  • Large and medium pot
  • Paring knife and cutting board
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cookie sheet (rimmed is best)

Method:

First step is the crust, because it has to chill. Deb’s tutorial is pretty flawless, but the one thing I do differently is to remove whatever dough is wet enough after adding the fist bit of water, then adding more water to the dry part left in the bowl. I had my dough in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but had to let them warm up a bit before I could roll them out.

Second step is the filling, which starts with the peaches. I had slightly less than 3lbs of peaches, all from local farms. They were not free-stone, at least I don’t think they were, but I imagine the whole peach-dissection process would have been much easier if I had been using free-stone peaches. I’ve never blanched, peeled, and sliced peaches, so this was new to me. Blanching the peaches makes them easier to peel, and the first step is to make an X in the bottom of each peach with a small paring knife, cutting through the skin but not a lot of the flesh. Next, add 3-4 peaches to a pot of boiling water for about 15 seconds, and then move them to an ice bath.

After cooled, it’s time to peel and slice, which is easiest if you have truly ripe free-stone peaches. Peeling the peaches was a bit tricky because they become very slippery without the fuzzy skin, and the riper the fruit, the easier they are to peel (some of mine weren’t completely ripe).  I tried to cut around each peach then twist the halves apart, but even that was difficult, so I cut them into quarters and rip the peach flesh from the pit with my fingers. I did not have pretty slices as the recipe shows, but that didn’t effect the finished pie at all.

All my peach chunks went into my biggest bowl, along with all the juice I made as I was man-handling them. In a smaller bowl, I combined the cornstarch, flour, cinnamon, and salt, then added the lemon juice. This didn’t mix very well, and I think that pre-mixing them probably wasn’t necessary – just add everything to the peaches. The clumps I had did disappear with mixing because of the peach juice.

Now it’s time to take ½ the crust out of the fridge to let it warm up a bit. I also turned the oven on to 425°F, and did take a minute to line a cookie sheet (with a lip is best) with foil – fruit pies mean there’s a big chance of oven-ruining leakage. And now we’ve come to the crossing of my threshold on this journey, which is cooking sugar. In my medium saucepan (2 Qt) I mixed the sugar, honey, and water over medium heat. I stirred the sugar in for a few minutes, brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush after everything dissolved. Now comes the really scary part, which is to let the mixture boil until the color deepens to dark amber. I find this difficult because it was hard to tell the color with all the bubbles, plus sugar can go from caramel colored to burnt in an instant, so I’m weary to cook it too long. After cooking for a few minutes and becoming darker, I removed the sugar from the heat and swirled in the butter. The sugar is poured over the peaches and mixed, then set aside.

The third step is pie assembly, which starts with rolling out the bottom of the pie, and removing the 2nd piece of dough from the fridge to warm up. On a floured surface, roll out half the dough to at least a13-inch circle, more if your pie plate is 9.5 inches (which mine is). Carefully transfer dough to the plate, trimming excess to about ½ an inch. Put the plate in the fridge so the dough doesn’t warm up too much. Now repeat with the 2nd half of the dough, making a slightly smaller circle. Once the top crust is ready, remove the pie plate from the fridge and pour in the peach filling. I had a lot of extra juice that I didn’t add to the pie for fear that it would be too wet.

Carefully place the top crust, seal the edges and trim crust to the pie plate. I scallop the edge of my pie using my fingers, placing the middle and pointer fingertips of my left hand on the edge of the dough and using my right pointer finger to pull up the dough between my left fingers. I cut a few fun steam vents in the center of the crust, brushed with milk, then sprinkled with demerara sugar. The pie went in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduced the heat to 375°F and let it bake for another 55 minutes until the crust was golden. My pie overflowed, proving that I made a good choice by using the foil-lined cookie sheet. Cool the pie completely before serving, or until you’re ready to serve. Mine cooled for about 4 hours and was still warm, but we were ready to eat before it was room temperature. We served the pie with JP Licks vanilla ice cream.

Observations:

  • Too much peach juice diluted the caramel and I couldn’t really taste it
  • The caramel could have been darker, and therefore more tasty
  • Next time: ripe free-stone peaches

Conclusions:

I liked this pie, certainly, as did everyone else who ate it. I couldn’t, however, taste the honey caramel, so I don’t think I’d repeat this step in the future. For me the crust was the show-stealer and not the peaches. It took me about 6 hours (including time to cool the dough) from start to hot out of the oven, so this is a weekend/day off project.

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