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Peach Pie: Two Ways

When the cool chill of October rolls in, there’s no question that I start craving the warm spiciness of apples and cinnamon. Perhaps you’re more of a pumpkin person, and thoughts of pumpkin pie or any of the umpteen dozen things you can consume of the “pumpkin spice” variety begin to permeate your mind once the September calendar page has been discarded.

But when the welcome-yet-debilitating heat of Summer finally wafts in, bringing sunshine and flowers and birds, high heels and pretty dresses, for me, there’s one thing I look forward to most of all: Peaches.

Ripe, juicy, fuzzy peaches.

Okay, living in Northern Ontario, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually even seen much less tasted an actual “ripe” peach, but if you put enough sugar on anything, it usually tastes pretty good!

I love the smell of peaches, the taste of peaches… I even love the colour peach. And two weeks ago, when I ventured out for my now-monthly grocery run, I saw that peaches were on sale and quickly snagged myself a bag.

My mom was known for her perfect peach pies, and there’s no doubt about what I would ask her to make me right now if she was here among the living – a peach pie.

So in the spirit of glorious summer, and in the middle of a heat wave here in the North, today I’m going to share with you a recipe for peach pie, but not my mom’s. I never had much luck using her recipe, and once I found the absolute easiest, most perfect, fool-proof pie crust recipe ever… there was never a reason to try to do anything else ever again.

I’m actually going to provide two different peach pie filling options for my readers to try. One is the traditional way, with most of the ingredients my mom used to use, including sour cream and vanilla, though not quite the same amounts. The other was actually the result of a mistake I made last week when I got far too excited to make a peach pie and neglected to turn my recipe page over to see that the filling called for more than just sugar and peaches. But that is one of the most wonderful things about life: Sometimes a “mistake” turns out to be something even better. “Happy accidents”, as Bob Ross would say.

I made two pies, back-to-back, so I could see once and for all which recipe is “better”. Both are excellent, and a perfect, sweetly refreshing dessert for the warm summer months. But in the end, both my dad and I agreed: The “mistake” pie was a little bit better because it provided such a pure, unadulterated “peach” taste. Whereas the traditional filling, which has more ingredients, dulled down the intensity of the peaches themselves, and created a different sort of “tang”.

But since everyone’s taste varies, and considering that both of these pies are truly divine and you can’t go wrong with either, I’ll let you choose for yourself which one you’d like to try – or maybe you’ll try both. If you do, I would love to hear which one you preferred: The clean, refreshing, purely peachy flavour of Version 1 (my favourite), or the classic creamy taste of Version 2.

Happy Summer, and enjoy!  🍑🍑🍑

Peach Pie Version 1: Purely Peachy

4-5 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
4 tbsp sugar (+ 2 tbsp after cooking)
1/2 cup water

In a pot, bring water, peaches and 4 tbsp of sugar to a boil and cook over medium heat for 7 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tbsp sugar. Set aside and prepare the dough.

Peach Pie Version 2: Classically Creamy

4-5 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
4 tbsp sugar (+ 2 tbsp after cooking)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup (8 tbsp) sour cream

Bring water, peaches, and 4 tbsp sugar to a boil and cook over medium heat for 7 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tbsp sugar, salt, vanilla, flour, and then fold in the sour cream. Set aside and prepare the dough.

The Only Pie Crust Recipe You’ll Ever Need

2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup Tenderflake Lard
6 tbsp ice water
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar

Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 3-5 ice cubes and set aside.

In a large metal bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Using a fork, cut in the lard until small pea-size lumps form.

Put the vinegar into a measuring cup and add 6 tbsp of ice water to it, stirring to mix. Pour this vinegar/water mixture into your dough. Use the fork to combine. With the fork, you should be able to mix this enough that there’s no dry bits of flour left loose in the bowl. Then using your hand, finish mixing the dough until it can hold its shape in a ball.

Cut a large sheet of parchment paper (works better than waxed paper), and tape it down securely to the counter top. Flour the paper and work your dough until it’s smooth and can be rolled. This dough is amazing – it shouldn’t take very long to get your dough to the perfect roll-able stage. Don’t worry that you’re over-mixing it – over-mixing pie dough is an overrated idea, in my opinion. Just concern yourself with making the dough the perfect consistency to roll. This crust is flaky, yet somehow holds its shape beautifully. Flour it as is necessary.

The best thing about this pie dough recipe is that there is absolutely no wait time. This is why you want to go ahead and make your filling first — once your dough has been prepared, you don’t need to set it aside to ‘rest’, and you don’t need to chill it. Mix it, knead it, roll it. And you’re done!

Divide the dough into two balls, one slightly smaller than the other. Set aside the small portion, this will make the top of your pie.

Flour a rolling pin and roll out the larger ball of dough, making it big enough that it overhangs your pie plate about an inch all the way around.

You should be able to just pick up your rolled dough and lay it in your pie plate. You can also drape it over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie plate that way. Or you can even lay the pie plate upside down on top of the dough, then pull up the parchment and invert the whole works. Once you get it in the pie plate, adjust the crust so it’s centered.

Add your filling of choice to the pie crust.

Now roll out the smaller reserved ball of dough. Try to make it also slightly larger than the pie plate. Cover the filling with the top crust.

Different people have different methods for sealing their pies, so if you prefer to do it your own way instead of mine, go right ahead! I like to carefully go around the entire perimeter of the pie, slowly pinching the overhanging edge of the bottom crust to the edge of the top crust. Dough is very workable, don’t be afraid to mold it and squeeze it together to make it do what you want. We’re basically sealing the filling in between the top and bottom layer of crust so it can’t leak out. Then take that over-hanging dough and fold it under itself, again pressing it together to seal it, slowly working your way around the entire pie, and making a nice ring of crust for your pie.

Flute the edge however you prefer. I have long nails and crimping the pie crust perfectly can be challenging. I found an excellent method here using the side of your thumb, pressing it down on a diagonal all the way around — works and looks fantastic!

Once the pie is completely sealed and your crust complete, take a knife and poke a few holes in the top crust. You can do slits if you prefer, but doing so may result in some of the filling bubbling out the top. Holes get the job done without any leakage.

Lightly sprinkle the top of the pie with white sugar.

Cut a large piece of tin foil and place it on a rack in the oven. Fold the back side up to act as a shield for the pie.*

Preheat the oven and the tin foil to 325º. Sit the pie on top of the foil and bake at 315º for 28 minutes. Cool on a wire rack straight out of the oven.

I always serve pie à la mode with vanilla ice cream. I like to eat my pie cold or at room temperature, but you can always pop it into the microwave for a few seconds if you prefer it warmed up.

*A friend commented on how white my pie crusts always look after baking, instead of the more common golden brown. That’s because I have a very hot oven and I don’t like scorched crust. My crust stays light because I’m cooking with low heat and I’m shielding the pie a little bit. If you like a darker crust, you can always brush it with some oil, or an egg wash, or even some water. Or don’t shield it, and increase the temperature you’re cooking at. But keep in mind that to get a brown crust, you are scorching it, and a darker crust will taste different than a lighter one.

Kitchen Tips: This pie crust really is everything I said it is and more. And it can easily be used and adapted for other kinds of pies. In the fall, I use it to make apple pie, and it’s perfect. 

If you wish to make something more savory, like chicken pot pie, you can absolutely use this recipe with one small adjustment: Just decrease the amount of sugar from 2 tbsp to 1 tbsp.

You can also use a pastry cutter when cutting the lard into your dough, but honestly, just a regular ol’ fork is so much easier and will give quicker, better results, in my opinion.

And if you want a super easy way to peel your peaches, boil ’em first! I do mine for about 2 minutes, then immediately dowse them with cold water — the skins will peel right off! And as a bonus, boiling also seems to help the flesh release from the pit just a little bit better. But fair warning, I have had some small peaches that this method simply didn’t work with. Not sure why, but if boiling your peaches doesn’t help the skin come off, it’s not you, it’s the peach!

My recipe specifies 4-5 peaches — this depends on the size of the fruit and how full you want your pie to be. The minimum you need is four small-size peaches, but that will make for a thinner pie. If you want a thicker, fuller pie (which will raise the risk of some of the filling bubbling out though), use four large peaches, or add an extra small-size peach!

One final tip: If you live in a place that’s teeming with wildlife, don’t just throw your peach scraps in the trash — baby bear, Wilma, found what I put out straight away and happily gobbled the skins right up — she even chewed up the pits!