When I moved to the South two years ago, I was excited by the promise of wonderful southern peaches. While over the years I had eaten delicious northern-grown peaches from the nearby orchards in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, the lure of the southern peach was undeniable. Two years in the South, and I have had some absolutely succulent peaches. Fragrant and juicy, they were the fulfillment of peach-scented dreams.
Unfortunately, these heady orbs were not the fulfillment of southern-grown peaches: they were trucked in from California. Southern peaches suck.
Georgia, South Carolina, it doesn’t matter. I haven’t eaten one that didn’t remind me of a hard, flavorless apple with hair. When peach season arrives, I have learned my lesson and now choose to pay the extra price-per-pound for the California peaches with flavor.
When I find good peaches, I purchase enough to satisfy my pent-up peach cravings for days and days at a time. If the peaches are still good when I return to the grocery store, bloated with sweet peach juice, I buy enough to make a pie. If you read my post on blueberry pie then you are well aware of my love of fruit pies. Summer is the time for most good fruit pies (except for the autumnal apple and mincemeat pies), so permit me another post on that most fleeting of summertime desserts.
Recipes and step-by-step directions after the jump…
This recipe was adapted from the Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Perfect Peach Pie recipe in The Pie and Pastry Bible (found here).
Peachy Keen Peach Pie
1 recipe Double-crust pie dough, mixed, separated into 2 rounds, wrapped, and chilled (see steps 1 through 3) or use your own pie dough recipe or use a store-bought crust
3 pounds ripe peaches, about 8 medium
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 oz (1/2 cup + 2 TBSP) sugar
Pinch (1/16th tsp) salt
5 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp almond extract
1 TBSP peach schnapps
- Roll out 1 round of the pie dough into a 12-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the dough to about 1/2-inch from the edge of the pan. Refrigerate the pan while you prepare the peaches.
- Peel and pit the peaches. I used a serrated vegetable peeler, but you may want to consider alternative methods. (Be careful! The serrated peeler is very sharp, and the peaches get very slippery once the skins are removed.) Once peeled and pitted, slice the peaches into 12 to 16 roughly equal sections (e.g. quarter each peach and cut each quarter into 3 or 4 pieces.
- Add the peach sections to a large bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Walk away and leave the peaches alone for 1 hour.
- When you come back after 1 hour, the peaches will have released a LOT of liquid.
- Using a colander, strain the juice off the peaches into a saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer the juices until they are thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
- Allow the thickened juices to cool, about 15 minutes. Toss the peaches with the cornstarch, almond extract, and schnapps until the cornstarch is no longer visible. After the juices have cooled, add the juices back to the peaches.
- Remove the pie pan from the refrigerator and add the filling. Return the pie pan to the refrigerator while you prepare the lattice top.
- Remove the second round of dough from the fridge and roll about into a 12-inch circle. I recommend using a sheet of parchment paper in order to avoid adding more flour to the dough.
- Using a roller and a bamboo skewer or toothpick, prick small holes across the top of the rolled dough every 3/4-inch.
- Repeat the marks at the bottom of the dough trying to line-up the dots as closely as you can. Using the ruler, use a rotary pastry cutter (I like a fluted wheel), pizza cutter, or sharp knife to cut the dough into 3/4-inch strips. Do not separate the strips (yet). Place the dough (still on the parchment) on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the freezer and the pie from the refrigerator. Separate the dough strips and place 5 parallel strips across the pie.
- Carefully rollback the 1st, 3rd, and 5th strips on to each other. Lay a dough strip perpendicular to the already placed strips.
- Unfurl those the 3 strips back unto place. Roll back the 2nd and 4th strips and place a second strip equal distance from the first horizontal strip.
- Repeat until the strips are placed as desired. Be sure to not place the strips right up against each other. The lattice pattern allows steam to escape from the pie as it bakes. Placing the strips too close together could allow for the filling to bubble up, overflow and look fugly.
- Trim the strips within 1/2-inch of the edge of the pie. Fold the excess pie over onto the pie pan edge. Crimp the crust with the tines of a fork. Refrigerate the pie for 1 hour to keep the butter cold and maintain the crust’s flakiness.
- Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425°F and place a foil-lined baking sheet on a rack in the second lowest oven position.
- Whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl. After the hour is finished, remove the pie from the refrigerator and brush the crust with the egg wash.
- Bake for 45 until the filling is bubbling in the center. Protect the crust from burning with a pie shield or ring of aluminum foil after 20 minutes.
Allow the pie to cool for at least 4 hours at room temperature. If you cut the pie before it has cooled, you will serve up peach cobbler and not pie. The filling has to cool and set so the pieces can be sliced appropriately. You have been warned.
Also nice with a scoop (or two) or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!