Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Peachy Keen

Yum... Peaches are here. I bought this huge box of peaches from a little produce stand on the side of the road right outside of Athens, Alabama. Isom's orchards. They are really well flavored peaches.... rich and succulent. My husband ate 3 right when I got them home. As soon as I got home with them I immediately started searching the cookbooks to find that "perfect" peach recipe. After considering a peach trifle, peach upside down cake and a peach pavola I finally decided to try my h and (again) at a good old fashioned pie. As you may know, I have a serious pie crust handicap...... it's just something that no matter how much I try, I just can't get it right. I have tried several different pie crust recipes, but it always comes out wrong. Never flaky and crisp like promised. Never. And this one was no different.....

The filling, though, certainly made up for the cardboard like crust. Those tasty peaches married beautifully with the sugar and cinnamon.... and smelled oh so delicious as it was baking. I want to make this again but with a ready made pie crust.... I am so tired of ruining perfectly good pie fillings with my horric attempts at crust.


Ahem.... sorry about that... a brief moment of crust induced insanity. Anyhow, as I was saying, this filling is really really good. But you know, I think it has a lot to do with the quality of peaches. So when you try it, make sure you have fresh juicy peaches with a strong flavor. Those pitiful little ones at the local grocery store won't make the cut....

Fresh Peach Pie

5 ½ cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 cup sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan; set aside for syrup to form. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and let cook for 10 minutes or until peaches are tender. Remove from heat and add in butter and vanilla, stirring well.
Roll out half of your pastry and fit inside 9 inch pie plate. Spoon filling in.... Cover with other half of pastry and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 25 to 30 more minutes until crust is lovely and browned.

Comments on "Peachy Keen"


Anonymous shelby said ... (June 12, 2006 9:35 AM) : 

Don't give up on pie crust just yet. Try my no fail method. The secret is that the water & fat must must be ice cold. Mix lightly with a fork and kneed lightly until it just comes together. Good luck!

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBS cold shortening
4 TBS cold butter
1/3 cup ice cold water (approx)

Combine flour and salt and cut in fat until you have pea sized pieces. I use my hands but you should use a pastry blender. Add water gradually and toss with a fork. Add just enough water until it binds together. D-epending on the humidity it could be more or less than 1/3 cup. Form into two balls and chill. Roll out as desired.


Blogger The Cookbook Junkie said ... (June 12, 2006 9:51 AM) : 

I too lack the pie crust-making gene. Fortunately, there is a cure for this genetic abnormality. It's called Pillsbury and it's in a red box in the refrigerated section (do not get store brand!)


Blogger tammiemarie said ... (June 12, 2006 10:35 AM) : 

2005 was the year I set aside to learn pie crust. And many crusts later, I can finally make a decent crust. I was overworking my crust. You barely need to get it together. I recommend the book Pie, by Ken Haedrich. After reading it, I was able to do it. I screwed one up the other day, though, by trying to prebake it for a banana cream pie. My crust shrank down in the pan, to about an inch tall. I still don't know what I did wrong.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (June 12, 2006 12:50 PM) : 

Pie crusts are hard. Mine never want to roll out nicely. The one time I got it perfect, I dropped the whole thing on the floor... Very upsetting.

This still looks great though. I love peaches and I can't wait till we get better looking/tasting ones out here.


Anonymous emily said ... (June 12, 2006 3:13 PM) : 

It looks so good.I haven't made a pie with crust in years.I fear the dough.
When I was on my highschool track team,we ran races in Athens.


Blogger Ben said ... (June 13, 2006 1:02 PM) : 

I think the trick to pie crusts is to make sure your dough is a non homogenous mix of small chunks of fat and small chunks of wet flour. When you roll it, the mix flattens into thin layers of alternating fat and flour. This is what creates the flakes. It helps alot if your house is not too warm because heat will prematurely melt the fat into the flour. That's also why it helps to use icy cold water.


Blogger Elizabeth said ... (June 14, 2006 2:35 PM) : 

I can smell the peaches all the way over here in Ireland...



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (June 14, 2006 5:46 PM) : 

Use my Mom's favorite pie crust recipe...
1 and 1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
combine in bowl.

In glass measuring cup, combine with fork:
1/3 cup Wesson Vegetable Oil
3 Tablespoons milk.

Add wet ingredients to dry and quickly mix with a fork until combined. Roll between two sheets of waxed paper.
Good luck!


Anonymous Molly said ... (June 15, 2006 6:29 AM) : 

My grandmother made the flakiest pie crusts ever, and she used flour, cold butter, ice water and a little salt. I found that I can just put the flour and chunks of butter in my small food processor, adding the the water little by little and using the pulse button until it just comes together. Don't over handle the dough- I think that is one of the keys!! Low humidity also helps..


Blogger Stephenie said ... (June 16, 2006 12:38 PM) : 

Oooo - YUM! I love Isom's peaches! Caleb's mom brought us some last week and they were so divine.

Hey - you should try something with the peaches and the ginger. Something tells me that would turn out quite nice.

Looking forward to Saturday - I'm bringing the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding, Paula's recipe of course.


Blogger Jill said ... (June 16, 2006 9:36 PM) : 

I was also not able to make a piecrust. I used store bought for years. Then I ran across this crazy recipe for making 20 piecrusts at once! I had to make it in my sink!!!! It was a total mess. But, I'll have to agree with those who say not to overmix. This was so undermixed I was really worried about it. I divided up the crusts, wrapped in plastic and froze them. They were the best crusts ever! I can't tell you how many compliments I received on them. So, don't overmix and (whispers) *crisco* sorry to have to say that, but I've always used butter and this time I used the trans fat wonder and the crusts were awesome. My mother in law told me she always uses Crisco (oops sorry) and it's the best.


Blogger Jenn said ... (June 18, 2006 8:17 AM) : 

Hi! I was just checking in to make sure you gotthe candy swap box. I haven't heard anything....


Blogger Fran said ... (June 20, 2006 8:47 AM) : 

Oil crust is the way I finally achieved success. Much like the one by anon. For a 2 crust pie:
2 cups flour
dash of salt
2/3 cup oil(I like canola)
1/3 cup milk, cream whatever you have--

Mix the liquids,add to dry and roll out between waxed paper, platic wrap, or my favorite-- parchment paper (since it is wider). It seems too oily, but bakes absolutely flakey everytime. It is very forgiving & you can patch tears with it. You can even put it in the bottom of the pie plate & mash it into place with your fingers. It also freezes well. Good Luck!


Blogger Lola said ... (June 20, 2006 12:43 PM) : 

Hi! I like your blog and am jealous of your peaches! I just thought I would comment about the piecrusts. There are many recipes and the ones using butter usually taste the best, but I learned how to do it using chilled shortening and the recipie from the Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid Cookbook. I would reccommend that you try this one first because shortning is more forgiving than oil or butter--and it still tastes pretty darn good. Here it is for a single crust:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup shortening (cold from fridge)
4-5 Tablespoons ice water

--Stir togther flour and 1/4 t. salt, plus a few teaspoons of sugar if you feel like it
--cut in shortning with a pastry blender or just by rubbing the flour and fat between your fingers until it is crumbly all over like a very very coarse cornmeal mixed with peas
--sprinkle the water over the flour one T. at a time (amt. needed varies with the humidity) until it is JUST moist. Only use JUST ENOUGH to hold it together. You don't really stir; you kind of toss/push it together one section at a time and then form it into a ball.
--Turn out on a floured surface, slightly flatten with your hands, roll it out to 12" diameter, making sure it isn't sticking.

This is not a fancy crust, but it is pretty foolproof. Keep everything cold and handle it as little as possible (never stir) and I think you will have good results. Seriously. Then once you have mastered this one, you can move on to the more difficult fats, like butter. I really hope you give it a try! Good luck, all you food looks so delicious!


Blogger Lola said ... (June 20, 2006 12:46 PM) : 

PS I always use Crisco shortning, but any brand works. I have managed to make them with half Crisco and half butter but never managed to make a good all-butter pie crust. Still working on that. I really reccommend the shortning. Don't give up!


Blogger geneve said ... (June 23, 2006 6:58 PM) : 

Yum, this looks great. There are lots of peaches at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market these days and this looks like the perfect way to enjoy them! Thanks for sharing the recipe.
I just discovered your site and it's great!


Anonymous Heels said ... (June 26, 2006 9:22 AM) : 

I always use a pastry cutter to keep my grubby hands out of any pie crusts, but I am hot by nature and that's why.

I adore Mark Bitman's recipes, especially as a starting point, and have never baked anything from him that didn't turn out well, but I think for pie crust, I just do flour, butter, ice water/milk/cream. I'm pretty sure that Alton recommends a shortening/butter mix for perfect flakiness and perfect buttery-ness.


Anonymous April Q said ... (July 09, 2006 12:38 PM) : 

It's o.k. to have a tough(er) crust for your bottom layer - it helps to make sure the filling doesn't leak out. Using shortening will help make your top crust crisp, but you lose flavor. I agree that the best crust is undermixed - don't add too much water, and check it by GENTLY PATTING it into a ball in the bowl. Don't ever knead or squeeze. Give the dough 10 minutes to rest before attempting to roll it out, this will let the glutens in the flour relax. When you're ready, pat the dough into a disk on a floury board. Roll from the center to the far edge, stop, and rotate the dough 1/4 turn. Repeat. Occasionally flip it over. If you follow that step with every roll, the dough will be tender and never stuck to the counter. Never try to force it to flatten too quickly, because it will stretch instead of loosen. Tips from my first boss - a funny little old swiss guy!


Blogger Scarlet Tanager said ... (August 03, 2006 5:57 PM) : 

The secret is a mixture of butter (for flavor) and shortening (for flakiness). Martha uses Pate Brisee a butter based dough which has a wonderful flavor, but the texture is somewhat tough. I was disappointed every time I used it and thought that I was doing something wrong. I finally switched to a butter/shortening blend recipe from "Baking with Julia" and have never looked back.
This makes enough for 4 single-crust or 2 double crust pies, just freeze the rest for later.

5 1/4 c. flour
1T. kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks (6oz.)cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 3/4 c. (11oz.) solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1c. ice water

Tip: Once you have everything measured out and ready to go, stick it in the freezer for a bit before starting your dough.


Blogger Rebekka said ... (September 09, 2006 11:57 AM) : 

Sounds so yummy! I'm in Alabama too, and nothing beats those Chilton county peaches!


Anonymous burekaboy said ... (September 09, 2006 2:53 PM) : 

another thing is to put it in the freezer for a couple of hours before baking the pie. this eliminates the top layer from rising during the baking process (due to the steam). it may take a little longer to bake but it works (u can check eGullet for people who have used this method and swear by it). obviously not necessary if you are baking it basket weave style.

great blog, btw.


Anonymous said ... (December 03, 2007 11:27 PM) : 

I have the pie crust problem as well...when you find one that works please post! :)


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Blogger Southern Plate said ... (September 25, 2008 3:15 PM) : 

I love Isoms! Have you had an apple cider slush from there yet?


Blogger Sarah said ... (October 23, 2008 1:51 PM) : 

I agree on the mix of butter for flavor and shortening for flakiness. Cut them into flat pieces and stick them in the freezer for at least half an hour before you start, and refrigerate your pie crust before rolling it out. Getting the quickest change of temperature from really cold to really hot is key to transforming those flakes of fat into flakey goodness.

Definitely use ice-cold water, and add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar (for a double crust recipe) - really!. The vinegar helps keep the flour tender and not cardboard-like. I usually just mix the cider vinegar and water and stick the two in the freezer while I mix the dry ingredients with the fats.

Good luck! And don't overwork it!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (May 29, 2009 9:13 PM) : 

I use Lard and make sure that it and the butter are cold as well as the ice water. I also use a bit of vinegar as well. I think my pie skills come from a)using my MIL's old butcher block and b)I have my great-grandmother's rolling pin. We joke that the spirits still live on!!!


Anonymous Linda said ... (August 28, 2009 5:29 PM) : 

I use the American Pie Dough ingredients list from The Best Recipe (Cook's Illustrated): 2 1/2 c. flour, 1 tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp sugar, 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, 8 Tbsp shortening, 6-8 Tbsp water. Actually I use salted butter and a pinch of salt, just because I never have unsalted butter around. Also I use Earth Balance shortening, not Crisco, and it works just fine.

They recommend using a food processor, which works quite well. Cut the cold fats up into small pieces then pulse everything together until it looks like coarse cornmeal with bigger pea-like bits here and there.

However I hate cleaning my food processor so I usually use my hands. I dice the cold fats, toss them lightly into the flour, then put the whole thing to the frig. When cold, I flatten the little pieces of fats between my fingers, then toss with the four, repeat. If it starts getting melty, it goes back in the frig. You don't want the fat to get completely mixed in because the flakiness is in part due to the melting bits of fats creating pockets between the flour parts while baking, same concept as with making biscuits.

So when all the butter has been flattened and the whole thing mixed but pretty coarse, it goes back in the fridge *again*. When cold, I mix in the water, which is also refrigerated. I stir so the water gets spread throughout as best I can, then I gather the dough up into two balls and press together. DO NOT KNEAD.

I put each ball in a plastic baggy and press it down into a disc about 5-6 inches across. I take special care to keep the edges together when it starts to pull apart. This is when you can really see the pieces of fat scattered throughout the dough.

Then chill again. If you have it in the frig for several hours and it's gotten really cold, let it sit on the counter just to soften a bit -- if it's too cold you have to put too much pressure on it to roll it out and it gets tough.


Blogger Seanna Lea said ... (July 22, 2010 11:21 AM) : 

The method I use comes from the Spice Cookbook. The key is in the "kneeding." Take your cold fat and flour and cut them together and add the appropriate cold liquid. Mix lightly until it is mostly damp and starting to clump.

Dump onto a floured surface and mold lightly into a ball. Cut with a knife and put one half on top of the other half. Continue molding into a ball and cutting in half until it is smooth (I will check when I'm home for the exact language). The result is that you don't abuse the dough in the kneeding process and preserve the layers of fat and flour, creating a flakier crust. Yum.


Anonymous L.Wallis said ... (August 23, 2010 12:43 PM) : 

I love your blog! I wanted to tell you not to give up on pie crust. Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog,has the best and easiest crust I have ever tried! It's even better if you leave it in the freezer for a few days.


Anonymous amy k said ... (March 01, 2011 5:36 PM) : 

try brushing the top of the pie with an egg/water mixture


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