The one good thing about having a backlog of recipes to write about is that it lets me pretend that it's still summer, and not cold and rainy out like it actually is.
I made this recipe* to bring to a pot-luck picnic at a co-worker's farm back in August. It came out pretty well, and that's not just me boasting. Someone at the picnic, who didn't know what I brought, told me that I should save some room for dessert because "someone brought a great-looking peach pie." I just smiled.
A lot of pies in The Book call for the standard Basic Pastry Dough for the crust. This recipe, however, has its own special crust recipe. What's so special about it, you ask? Well, that would be the lard, which makes the crust extra tender and flaky. It really makes a difference compared to a butter or vegetable shortening crust.
To make the crust, I blended together (using my fingertips) some flour, a little bit of salt and a half-pound of cold lard cut into bits until it started to look like beach sand. Then I mixed in a little bit of lemon juice and some cold water. I turned the dough out onto a floured pastry mat and did a little firsage action to fully incorporate the fat into the dough. I divided up the dough into two pieces (one slightly larger than the other), wrapped them in wax paper and put them in the 'fridge.
Meanwhile I peeled some fresh peaches by cutting a small "x" in the bottom of each peach and plunging them in boiling water for a few seconds and then into ice water. That loosens the peels just enough that they come off pretty easily. I pitted and sliced the peaches and tossed them with some lemon juice, flour, sugar, salt and a pinch of ground mace. What is mace, anyway? It turns out that it's the lacy, outer covering of the nutmeg seed. It's removed, dried and turned into a powder and used a lot like nutmeg, but some say that it's flavor more delicate and less sweet.
To assemble the pie, I rolled out the larger piece of dough into a 12-inch circle, and put it into a 10-inch disposable pie plate (since I was bringing it to a pot luck picnic, I didn't want to have to worry about getting my pie plate back). I put the shell in the 'fridge while I worked on the dough strips for the pie top. I rolled out the smaller piece of dough into an 11-inch circle. By the way, my flexible, non-stick pastry mat (from Target of all places!) is printed with a handy one-inch grid that makes it easy to roll dough out to any size you want. I put the dough circle on a wax-paper-lined baking sheet and put it in the 'fridge for a few minutes to firm up a bit. Meanwhile, I took the shell out of the 'fridge, filled it up with the peach mixture and dotted it with some butter. I took out the dough circle and cut it into strips (about 3/4 inch wide. Then I arranged half of the strips on top of the pie in one direction and then I arranged the remaining strips in the other direction. I interlaced them in a basketweave pattern. Not as hard as it sounds. The Book says to crimp the edges of the crust "decoratively." I used the end of a wooden spoon to create a fluted edge. Finally, I brushed the top of the pie with an egg wash made from an egg beaten with a tablespoon of water.
I baked the pie at a high temperature for about twenty minutes, and then lowered the heat and baked it for another forty-five minutes or so. When the edges of the crust started to brown a bit too much, I put my foil pie shields on the pie to keep the edges from burning.
Not only was the pie beautiful (the picture doesn't really do it justice, it was state-fair-blue-ribbon pretty), but it was really delicious. As I said, the crust was tender and flaky. The filling was sweet and tart, and just thick enough so that it wasn't runny or gelatinous.
The picnic at the farm was one of the best days we had this past summer. It was my son's first time seeing horses and cows. I didn't know how he'd react to big animals. He wasn't a bit afraid. He petted the horses, and called out to the cows until they came over to see him. Lots of fun.
Date Cooked: August 29, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
* This recipe isn't on epicurious.com.
2 years ago