Though I don’t post many pie recipes on the blog, I’ve been a pie lover since early childhood when I’d sit on Grandpa Bisesi’s lap and we’d share hot apple pie for breakfast. My mother wouldn’t let us eat dessert for breakfast, but all bets were off when we’d visit her parents near Baltimore. For years I was a fruit-pie-only patron, turning my nose up at pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan pies. And don’t even get me started on chocolate and lime custard pies. No, thanks. My tastes have changed further as an adult, and while I still enjoy an occasional slice of pie, most pies were so cloyingly sweet that I usually turn down dessert when I saw a pie in rotation around the table.
Since I’ve been writing The Crafty Cook Nook, I’ve made a few one-crust pies (you can find them here, here, here, and here) and a fair amount of sweet and savory galettes (here, here, here, and here), but I’ve avoided two-crust pies, considering them way too much work. In-season and super inexpensive Colorado peaches are the only thing that could convince me to set aside an afternoon to make the recipe featured today. I will always hold a special place in my heart for Alabama’s Chilton County peaches, but I have to work with I’ve got. And ripe, local peaches for a pittance was enough for me to start searching the internet for a stellar peach pie recipe.
I didn’t have to search far. Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen blog, one of my favorites for consistently delicious dessert and bread recipes, included an in-depth post about peach pie. Like me, Deb doesn’t like an overly sweet fruit pie. Ripe peaches are already wonderfully sweet, and for me, dumping a cup of sugar into the filling kills the subtle and all-important flavors that come from fresh baked fruit.
Below you’ll find Smitten Kitchen’s classic peach pie recipe. I didn’t change the ingredient proportions a bit, but I did fiddle with the crust roll-out method because I have good luck when I follow the steps I give below. If you’re worried about the time it will take to make this pie, solicit assistance from a friend or family member. If he or she wants to enjoy this pie’s splendor, the least he or she can do is help with the prep work.
Palisade Peach Pie
(adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe)
Makes 1 standard 9-inch pie
– 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
– 1 TBS granulated sugar
– 1 tsp table salt
– 2 sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
– 1/2 cup water, very cold (I use ice water.)
– About 3 1/2 lbs peaches (approximately 6 large, 7 medium or 8 small)
– 1 TBS fresh lemon juice, from about half a regular lemon
– 1/4 cup granulated sugar (use 1/3 cup for a sweeter pie, though my peaches were ripe and sweet so the 1/4 cup worked great.)
– 1/4 cup light brown sugar (ditto)
– 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
– Few gratings of fresh nutmeg
– 1/8 tsp table salt
– 2 TBS minute tapioca, ground to a powder, or 3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch (I used ground minute tapioca.)
– 1 TBS milk, cream or water (I used 2% milk.)
– 1 TBS coarse or granulated sugar (I used turbinado sugar.)
Make your pie dough:
1. Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. (You’ll want to chop your butter into small bits first, unless you’re using a very strong pastry blender in which case you can throw the sticks in whole, as I do.)
2. Gently stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball.
3. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days. Slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 to 2 months. To defrost, leave in fridge for 1 day.
Meanwhile, prepare your filling:
1. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Prepare an ice bath. Make a small x at the bottom of each peach. Once water is boiling, lower peaches, as many as you can fit at once, into saucepan and poach for two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice bath for one minute to cool.
2. Transfer peaches to cutting board and peel the skins. In most cases, the boiling-then-cold water will loosen the skins, and they’ll slip right off. In the case of some stubborn peaches, they will stay intact and you can peel them with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.
3. Halve and pit the peaches, then into about 1/3-inch thick slices. You’ll want 6 cups; it’s okay if you go a little over. Add to a large bowl and toss with lemon juice.
4. In a small dish, stir together sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cornstarch (or tapioca) until evenly mixed. Add to peaches and toss to evenly coat.
5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Assemble and bake your pie:
1. Flour your counter or pastry board well and cover with wax paper. Lightly flour the wax paper, too. Unwrap your first dough (if the two pieces look uneven, go for the smaller one), and put it in the middle and flour that, too. Be generous, you’ll thank me later. Cover the dough with another sheet of wax paper. This way, even if your dough sticks to the wax paper, you can still move the dough easily on the board as you roll it out, and when it comes time to place the crust in the pie dish, you can carefully peel off the wax paper and have a crust that stays intact.
2. Start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the pin and moving it from the center out. You’re not going to get it all flat in one roll or even twenty; be patient and it will crack less. Roll it a few times in one direction, lift it up (with the wax paper top and bottom) and rotate it a quarter-turn. And that’s what you’re going to continue to do, roll a couple times, lift the dough and rotate it. Re-flour the counter and dough as needed–don’t skimp! If at any point, the dough starts to get sticky or soft, it’s warming up and will only become more difficult to work with. Transfer it back to the fridge for a few minutes (or even the freezer, but for just a minute) to let it cool, then resume your rolling process. If you need to transfer it, just pick it up with top and bottom pieces of wax paper and transfer to fridge or freezer.
3. Once your dough is a 12- to 13-inch circle, transfer pie dough to a standard pie dish and gently place it to fit over the base. (If it’s stuck to the wax paper, then gently peel one side from the dough, place it in the pan and then gently peel the paper from the other stuck side.) Trim the overhang to one inch.
4. Scoop filling into bottom pie dough, including any accumulated juices (they contain the thickener too.).
5. Roll out your top pie dough using the same procedure, until it is 12 to 13 inches in diameter. If you’d like to make a regular lidded pie, use it as is, cutting some decorative vents in the pie lid before baking. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or knife, and then check out Deb’s visual chart here for how to lattice the dough. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim (i.e. no overhang; only the bottom crust will have that.) Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp decoratively.
6. Brush pie with milk, cream or water and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake pie for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is set and beginning to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake pie for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbling all over and the crust is a nice golden brown. If the pie lid browns too quickly at any point in the baking process, you can cover it with foil for the remaining baking time to prevent further browning.
8. Cool pie for three hours at room temperature before serving to allow the pie filling to fully cool so it can fully thicken. Pie can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge; from the fridge, it will be even thicker.