Nothing says summer like a good peach pie. I got two pounds of peaches last week in my farmers’ market delivery, and then I realized I was a pound short to make pie, so my boyfriend saved the day and went and got more from the actual grocery store (a place I still do not go because of PTSD associated with zero social distancing at the start of the pandemic and other horror stories that I won’t repeat here).
ANYWAY. The point is that if you have a lot of semi-ripe peaches laying around (and you probably should…it’s summer), this is the pie to make. Notice I said semi-ripe. It’s okay if you use ripe peaches in a pie, but they’re going to be very mushy by the end. If you use semi-ripe peaches, they will still retain some of their original shape and consistency, which improves the pie’s overall consistency. Think about the difference between pureed berries and whole ones. They both have their time and place, but generally speaking, you don’t want to be eating soupy pie.
The real secret to this pie’s success is the crust. Once again, I used the crust recipe from Nicole Rucker’s Dappled cookbook. If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly suggest purchasing a copy, especially if you’re serious about baking. Rucker’s technique involves mixing pie dough by hand, which might scare a lot of people but trust me, it’s crucial. By using your hands, you get to spread the butter more evenly through the dough and create little flaky pockets that show up once you bake the crust. It’s flakier, crunchier, and all around better.
Plus, it’s not that hard. By now I sound like a Dappled acolyte, but maybe that’s because I am. As long as you have a good pastry cutter for when the butter is really cold, you’ll be fine. Trust me; your hands can do more than you think they can.
I’ve included my recipe for the filling below. It has a bunch of spices to compliment the sweet peaches, plus a little vanilla bean paste to seal the deal. It really highlights the fresh fruit, which is the star of this dessert.
Here’s a song to get you started on your peach pie journey.
Peach Pie Filling
3 pounds semi-ripe peaches (yellow are best)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground cardamom
Toss the peaches with the rest of the ingredients and let sit for five minutes. Put the filling in your prepared crust, top with another crust, and freeze the whole pie for 15 minutes before baking. Enjoy!