25 July 2007

Peachy Keen

There's something wonderful about a peach picked fresh from a tree, sun kissed and blushing pink; it's summer embodied and package to fit in the palm of your hand. I was spoiled growing up and had three peach trees in my small back yard that would give my family several bushels of fruit each year. But while we ate fresh peaches and canned our peaches, we never did bake any of them. Now flash forward many years later and I just made my first peach pie last weekend.

As desserts go, pies are something wonderfully warm, straightforward, and simply good. There's an elegant to its elements: the crust, a filling, and topping. And I'm very fond of fruit pies in general. I usually make at least one apple pie during the holidays and a couple berry pies in the spring and summer, if there's occasion. But a peach pie was never on my baking radar probably because I never found a recipe I was tempted to make—I've made my fair share of peach cobblers, though.

But that all changed when I grabbed a couple food magazines, Bon Appétit and Gourmet to be precise, from the airport newsstand for light reading on my flight to Washington DC. Bon Appétit's July issue article on "Luscious Fruit Pies" proved too must to resist; I wanted to make every one of their summer pies: Summer Peach Pie, Triple-Cherry Pie, and Wild Blueberry Pie.

Of the three, the peach pie was the most intriguing with its vanilla sugar and cardamom; it didn't seem like an ordinary peach pie—and it wasn't. The spiked sugar and intense spice added a noticeable warmth and pleasant complexity to the peach filling; although if I were to make the pie again, I would cut the cardamom in half, a scant 1/2 teaspoon as oppose to a scant 1-teaspoon. I felt the whole teaspoon created a spicy depth that sacrificed some clean sweet flavor I would have preferred more of. And while the recipe suggested keeping the skins on, I peel them off my peaches—I'm a purist in that way—but I might experiment with leaving them on the next time.


Makes 8 servings.

2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon (scant) ground cardamom
3 3/4 pounds firm but ripe unpeeled peaches, halved, pitted, each half cut into 4 slices (about 10 cups)

2 Best-Ever Pie Crust dough disks
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Whipping cream (for glaze)
Vanilla ice cream

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Combine 2/3 cup sugar and vanilla bean in processor; blend until vanilla bean is very finely minced. Sift vanilla sugar through strainer into large bowl; discard any large bits in strainer. Mix flour and cardamom into vanilla sugar. Add peaches to flour-sugar mixture and toss gently to coat.

Roll out 1 pie crust disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Spoon peach mixture into crust; dot with butter. Roll out second pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Drape dough over peach filling; trim overhang to 1 1/2 inches. Fold top and bottom edges under, pressing together to seal. Crimp edges decoratively. Using small sharp knife, cut 2-inch-long X in center of top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush crust lightly with whipping cream; sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.

Place pie on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, peaches are tender, and juices bubble thickly through cut in top crust, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool until lukewarm, about 2 hours.

Serve pie lukewarm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

Bon Appétit, July 2007
Jeanne Thiel Kelley

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Anonymous Paz said...

You had peach trees in your backyard? Lucky girl! I love your peach pie.


7/27/2007 6:49 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

looks so good!


7/28/2007 4:51 PM  
Blogger Blue Plate said...

thanks paz and jennifer for dropping by and posting comments.

8/05/2007 2:09 AM  

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