Peach pie is one of those irresistible classics of the baking world; the very thought of it gets your salivary glands going! After a recent trip to the St. Lawrence Market, I knew I had to make a peach pie as soon as possible. The abundant peach crop was so seductive, crying out to be transformed into a peach pie. Now, while the crop is at its late summer best.
Butter Shortbread Pastry
Absolutely delicious, this pastry is a must for a special fruit pie. It can be made ahead and frozen unfilled. Yes, you can substitute a frozen pie shell for the bottom and another one for the top but give this recipe a try. Follow the step by step instructions and you can be a star.
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup (50 mL) shortening, cubed
1/3 cup (75 mL) cold water
1 egg yolk
2 tsp (10 mL) lemon juice
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt until well blended. Using a sharp knife, cut the measured butter and shortening into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes. (This makes it easier to get mixed into the flour.) Add butter and shortening cubes and, using a pastry blender or fingers, rub the fat into flour to make fine crumbs.
In measuring cup, whisk together water, egg yolk and lemon juice. Drizzle the liquid over the flour mixture and toss dampened flour with a fork until the mass starts to cling together. Using hands, form this mixture (dough) into a ball. Divide in half. (One half for bottom shell, one half for top shell).
Most recipes tell you to refrigerate at this point. However, I prefer to roll dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper at this point because it is easier to roll out and using 2 pieces of parchment paper reduces mess and minimizes sticking.
Form a circle at least 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) larger than the 9 inch (23 cm) pie plate (about 1/8 inch thick) then refrigerate to rest dough. Refrigerating dough allows it to relax and shape better in the pan. Again, if you are short of time, as I often am, roll dough out and use it immediately.
How to get the dough into the pie plate: Another mystery that scares anyone making pastry (and another good reason to use 2 sheets of parchment paper).
Gently release the one piece of parchment paper from the dough. Replace on dough but lightly. Quickly flip the parchment paper and dough onto reverse side. Remove the top piece of parchment paper gently and set aside. Invert pie plate over the center of the dough and place hand on top of dough invert pie plate to upright position. You did it! Pastry is in pie plate. Gently remove the remaining parchment paper and ease the pastry into pie plate so as not to stretch it. Don’t worry if pastry overhangs the pie plate. Extra pastry is necessary for “crimping” (decorative edge – another pastry word). Refrigerate pie shells until ready to fill the pie plate.
Peach Pie Filling
Peaches or nectarines can be used for this pie filling. Peaches must have skin removed while nectarines can have skin left on. To remove peach skin; place peaches in a bowl; cover with boiling water (boil up a filled kettle of water to do this); let stand 30 seconds in boiling water then cover in ice-cold water. This will kill enzymes under the skin and allow the skin to be removed easily. Cut peaches or nectarines into 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) slices and discard pit.
5 cups (1.25 mL) peach slices
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon rind or ground cinnamon
Pre-heat oven to 425 F (230 C). In mixing bowl, place peach slices. Sprinkle with lemon juice. In separate bowl, stir together sugar, flour, lemon rind and cinnamon. Sprinkle over peaches and combine gently. Spoon filling into prepared pie shell. Cover with remaining rolled out pastry shell and gently remove parchment paper. Using sharp knife trim edges of pastry to match the edge of pie plate. Pinch edges of pastry together with fingertips to make decorative edge or use a fork to press together. If desired, brush pastry lid with a mixture of beaten egg and water to make the pastry glossy, then sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Using a sharp knife cut steam vents into pastry lid. Place pie on baking sheet and place in the center, bottom third of the oven. Bake at 425 F (230 C) for 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Reduce heat to 350 F (180 C) and continue to bake 35 – 45 minutes or until pastry is a deep golden brown. Remove to cooling rack; cool at least 30 minutes before cutting into 6 – 8 wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.
Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer. Reach her at email@example.com.