Sunday, November 6, 2011

Church Lady Peach Pie

My pie timeline is totally off. 

Since it’s November, I should be telling you about pies made with pecans or sweet potatoes or pumpkins, and hey, all those things have fantastic pie-making potential. But the snowier it gets outside, let me tell you, the more we all miss the fresh fruit pies of summer. 

Luckily, I have a secret.

This fantastic, gorgeous, glorious peach pie is not a fresh fruit pie. It’s a jarred fruit pie. 

Okay, look, I know. I know that our food culture has placed supreme importance on using fresh, seasonal and local produce, and that’s definitely a good philosophy to preach. But if it’s November, and you can’t get the thought of juicy ripe peaches out of your head? Please don’t go to the grocery store and buy those baseballs they’re trying to pass off as fruit. All you need is a jar of sliced peaches packed in light syrup and you are well on your way to fruit pie bliss. 

True to the title, I found this recipe buried in an old church charity collection of recipes that I picked up at a thrift store a while back, and maybe that’s why it’s so shameless in using jarred (or canned) peaches. But just ask a grandma – canning is a way to preserve fruit at the height of its ripeness, and that’s why a lot of our grandmas did it themselves.   

So I made up some sweet, golden peach pie filling (which, trust me, you will have to fight to not just eat warm over ice cream. . . or maybe just with a spoon) and then used it to fill some pate brisee (which is just a fancy French way of saying ‘pie crust made with butter’) and baked it until it was flaky and fantastic. 

It’s not quite the same as biting into a ripe peach and letting the juice run down your chin… But you know what? It may just be the next best thing. 

Go on, put your prejudice against canned fruit aside and check out the recipe after the jump for a taste of summer that’ll brighten any snowy day.

Canned Peach Pie Filling
fills one 9-inch pie or one deep dish 8-inch pie

2 29-oz jars/cans of peaches packed in light syrup
2 cups juice/syrup reserved from the peaches
1/3 cup cornstarch
½ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ tablespoon nutmeg (fresh grated if you’ve got it)
pinch of dried ginger
1 tablespoon cold butter (optional)
1 recipe for a 9-inch double pie crust (see below)

Drain your peaches in a strainer set over a bowl to catch the liquid. 

In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch, salt and sugar. Add 2 cups of the peach liquid and the lemon juice and whisk the mixture vigorously until no lumps of cornstarch remain. Heat this mixture gently over medium heat, whisking constantly, and cook until mixture becomes very thick. Take the mixture off the heat and stir in the nutmeg and the ginger and the cold butter (if using). Let the mixture cool slightly then, in a large bowl toss peach slices with thickened syrup. 

Roll out your pie crust and line your pie plate. Using a fork, poke the bottom of the crust all over and then brush with some melted butter (optional) to help ensure your crust doesn’t get soggy. Add the filling, then cover the pie with the top crust, crimping the edge as you go. Poke slits in the top of the crust to vent, then bake at 375F for 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown. 

If the edges of your crust begin to overbrown, use tin foil to protect the edges for the duration of the cooking process.

Butter Pie Crust
makes a double 9-inch pie crust
Note: Do not be afraid of pie crust. It’s easy. 

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4-8 tablespoons ice water

The idea behind pie crust is that you want to incorporate all the ingredients without letting your butter melt, so it’s important to work quick and with well-chilled butter. 

Here’s an easy trick. Put your sticks of butter in the freezer until well-chilled and then use the largest holes of a box grater to grate your butter into shreds on a plate. Then return the plate to the freezer to stay cold while you prepare your dry ingredients. 

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Then add the cold grated butter and use a pastry cutter, a fork or your fingers (work quickly!) to incorporate. Then, add 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of very cold water and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Add more cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until when you squeeze a handful of the dough, it forms a ball and does not crumble. 

Divide your dough half and press each ball into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour before trying to roll it out. 

** If you’ve got a food processor, you can combine your cold butter and your flour in the processor and pulse it until it resembles cornmeal or coarse crumbs, but make sure you remove this mix to a bowl and add your water with a wooden spoon. Just as before, add 4 tablespoons first, and then add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until your dough comes together. 

1 comment:

  1. I love pate bisee with fresh canned fruit! Pure win! =)


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