Summer is winding down, the long hot days filled with light are starting to cool, and they are noticeably shorter as well. The sights, scents and flavors of summer are coming to an end as farmers, gardeners and homesteaders alike are starting to harvest the bounty they carefully tended all spring and summer. Deep orange pumpkins are beginning to make an appearance right alongside brightly colored mums as little by little the leaves are starting to turn color in their annual display of finery. And while I'm all for cooler weather that marshals in soup season, I am not ready to give into autumn full bore, not at least until I've made a peach pie.
There is something about a peach pie -how the flavor of sun ripened peaches dance over your tongue, their sweetness almost like wild honey, that is a conduit to the joy of long, light filled, languorous days as we savor each bite. They are a reminder of the sweetness of summer even as they give us memories to cling to during long, cold winter months and those memories help hold us over as they tantalize us with the promise of next summer.
And I find a satisfaction in my soul as my hands go through the familiar routine of putting together the ingredients for a flakey crust, then as the dough rests in my fridge, sitting on my front porch, peeling and slicing peaches their juice running down my hand and arm, as bees buzz around, drawn by their sweetness.
I love that my boys were raised on homemade pies and that they too have the same fond memories, memories that bring joy and a closeness from shared experiences, and because of those memories, they are looking forward to this peach pie as well -what a blessing.
Yes, the feeling of fall is in the air, but I refuse to give in to it and all its pleasures until my peach pie is done. Bon Appétit, Life is Good...
Ingredients for Crust: Yields 2 full crusts (a top and a bottom)
2 cups flour
1⁄2 cup shortening/lard
51⁄2 tablespoons salted butter 1⁄2 cup water, VERY COLD
Instructions for Making the Dough:
-Put flour in a large bowl and whisk it up.
-Add the fat (shortening, lard, and/or butter), and using a hand-held pastry blender, cut it into the flour. By pastry blender, I am referring to a simple tool with a wooden, metal, or plastic handle on one side and 4–6 metal strips or wires on the other side that curve at the bottom, making the tool look something like a capital “D.” These simple tools are incredibly efficient for cutting ingredients like butter or lard into flour. If you want to be a pie maker, you need one.
-Add the cold water and, using a wooden spoon, mix it into the flour mixture as best as you can. Use your hands to finish incorporating it.
-Transfer the dough into a small bowl or container, cover it, put it in the fridge, and LET IT REST for at least 30 minutes. Letting the dough cool and rest might just be the most important step of all for the pie crust. The reason this is important is that by letting it cool and rest, it relaxes the gluten strands, which helps to make the dough easier to work with.
Instructions for Rolling Out the Crust:
-Generously flour a large board, piece of marble, or clean countertop. Also, on the side, make a pile of flour for your rolling pin—to keep the dough from sticking to it.
-Using a heavy, well-floured rolling pin, start in the middle of the dough and roll it in one direction. Then start again and roll in another direction. Keep going around until you have a flat, even circle that is at least 10 inches in diameter or at least 2 inches bigger than your pie plate.
Note: You risk having the crust tear if 1) You don’t keep your pin very well-floured, and 2) You roll the pin back and forth over the dough rather than rolling out from the center out in one direction.
Peach Pie Filling:
*4 lbs. fresh Peaches, ripened
1/4 cup Sugar
1/8 cup Flour
A pinch Citric Acid
Optional: 1/2 tspn Vanilla, or 1/4 tspn, Cinnamon, or 1/4 tspn Nutmeg
-Preheat the oven to 350º and place the racks on the bottom two spots in the oven.
-Peel the peaches -either but putting them in boiling water for a minute, quartering the skin and peeling it back, or by using a knife or peeler, then halve them, then make varying size slices off of each half.
-In a large bowl, add the peach slices, sugar, flour citric acid and, if you're interested in using any of them, either the vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg, and mix it gently until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
-Roll out approximately 1/3 of the crust and put it in the pie plate and put it aside.
- Roll out at least another 1/3 of the crust -keeping it kind of thick, so it doesn't disappear into the fruit of the pie, and cut it into strips (your choice of thickness) for the lattice.
-Add the peaches to the bottom crust, then, starting in the middle of the pie, start weaving the lattice, until the pie is covered.
-Put it in the oven and let it bake for about an hour and fifteen minutes.
-Take it out, put it on a rack and let it cool.
-Serve warm by it's self or with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
*Note -The amount of peaches you need will be determined by the size and depth of the pie you want to make. This is a standard 8" pie plate.