Sunday, July 21, 2013

Perfect Peach Pie

I must apologize for my neglect of this blog lately – I’ve been working feverishly on a new cookbook and find I don’t have as much time to devote to extra-curricular activities as I’d like. But there are occasions when I come across a beautiful ingredient, the look and fragrance of which compels me to make a

dessert and share it with you. Yesterday, I succumbed to a batch of fragrant peaches at the farmers’ market. One sniff and I was committed. Next thing I knew, I was rolling out pie dough, slicing peaches and laying down strips of dough to form a lattice top. Nothing says summer like a home-baked peach pie. Simple

as they are, pies take time to craft, but they are worth every bit of the effort that goes into them. For the pie crust, I chose to add a little whole wheat flour to give it an earthy note that complements the sweet peaches. A bit of white vinegar (undetectable in the finished pastry) make the crust tender, while a sprinkling of

demerara sugar gives it some crunch. For the filling, I decided not to peel the peaches; just sliced them and tossed them together with some lemon juice and zest, ground cinnamon and some finely chopped crystallized ginger. Quick-cooking tapioca thickens the juices in the finished pie. The crust gets a jump on

browning when it’s put in a 425 degree F oven for the first 15 minutes of baking. If you find it’s browning too quickly, simply tent some foil over the top for the remainder of baking. After it’s cooled, serve a slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato. Perfection.

Lattice-Topped Peach Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

2 1/3 cups (309 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (62 g) whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons (25 g) granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and frozen for 15 minutes
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons ice-cold water

Peach Filling:
3 lbs (1.36 kg) fresh ripe peaches, halved, pitted and cut into 3/4-inch wedges
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes

1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water for eggwash
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Make the pie dough:
1. Place the flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until blended. Add the butter cubes and, using a spoon, toss to coat them in flour. Pulse the machine on and off just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar with 2 tablespoons of the cold water. With the processor on, add the mixture through the feed tube and process until the mixture just starts to come together. If the dough seems dry, add the remaining 1 tablespoon water as necessary. Do not allow the dough to form a ball on the blade, or the resulting crust will be tough.
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it in two, and shape each half into a thick disk. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Make the filling:
3. In a large bowl, toss the peaches with the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, tapioca, cinnamon and crystallized ginger. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the peach juices to be released and absorbed by the tapioca.

Assemble the pie:
4. Lightly flour a large work surface. Place one of the chilled dough disks on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour over it. Roll the dough from the center out in every direction, flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. You want a round about 1/8 inch or slightly less thick and about 12 inches in diameter.
5. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it carefully over the pan. Press the dough first into the bottom of the pan and then against the sides. Patch any holes or cracks with dough scraps. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors, leaving about 3/4 inch of overhang. Tuck the overhand underneath itself and, using your thumb and index finger, crimp the edge. Refrigerate the pie shell while you roll out the lattice top.
6. Remove the second round of pastry from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured work surface, roll it into another 12-inch round. Using a pastry wheel or chef’s knife, cut the round into ½-inch wide strips.
7. Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator and pile the peach filling into it. Dot the top of the filling with the butter. Lay half of the pastry strips on top of the filling in one direction, spacing them 1 inch apart and leaving a small overhang at the edges. Lay the remaining strips on top, crossing the other strips diagonally and creating a lattice pattern (I don’t bother to weave them), leaving an overhang. Tuck the edges of the dough under itself. Refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes, until firm.
8. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Brush the lattice pastry with the eggwash, then sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake until the pastry is golden and the pie is bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes (cover the pie with tented foil during baking if it is browning too quickly). Cool the pie before serving with vanilla ice cream.

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