Turn Peaches, Other Summer Fruits into Pies, Tarts, Cobblers

Does the thought of a homemade peach pie with melt-in-your mouth crust make you weak in the knees?

I love making pies and tarts all year, but during the summer when stone fruits such as peaches, plums, and nectarines are juicy and fragrant, I can’t resist encasing these stars of summer in buttery pastry. Warm from the oven, and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a swirl of whipped cream, it’s hard to beat the flavor of a homemade peach pie, cherry tart, or deep-dish plum cobbler.

I started making my own pie pastry while I was in high school. My grandmother Henrietta was a gifted baker, but it was her pie crusts that particularly intrigued me. They were always light and flaky, and she had a well-practiced knack for fluting the edges. Eager to learn her secrets and techniques, I asked my grandmother to teach me the art of pie pastry.

It doesn’t matter how good a pie filling is, if the pastry is dry or tough. The secrets to making great pie pastry are ice water, cold butter, and a minimum of handling. Tiny bits of ice-cold butter in the pastry make a crust tender and flaky. When butter is fully mixed into the flour, the result is a tough piecrust, so keeping the butter cold is essential. I use a food processor, and in less than 10 minutes, the result is pastry that’s easy to handle and doesn’t split when I roll it. Another valuable tip from my grandmother – use a pastry cloth to roll out piecrust. Once a pastry cloth is dusted with flour, the days of pie dough sticking to the kitchen counter are over.

This month’s All-American Peach Pie combines juicy peaches, a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a buttery top and bottom piecrust no one can resist. It’s easy to make, so get out the flour, chill the butter, and prepare to become the best pie baker on your block.

For more recipes and entertaining tips from PBS chef Christy Rost, visit christyrost.com.


Pastry Ingredients:
• 2 cups flour
• ½ cup sifted cake flour
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 6 tablespoons ice water

Filling Ingredients:
• 7 large, ripe peaches, about 2 ½ pounds
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 egg, for egg wash
• 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
• Sparkling or granulated sugar, for garnish

Directions
Combine flours, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Add butter and pulse until the butter is pea-size. Add 5 tablespoons of water and process at low speed until the pastry forms a meal. If the mixture feels dry, add the remaining ice water and process just until the pastry begins to form a ball. Remove pastry, divide it in half, wrap each half in plastic and chill 30 minutes.
While the pastry chills, bring a large pot of water to a boil. A few at a time, drop peaches into boiling water for 45 seconds to soften the skins, transfer them to a bowl of ice water, and set them aside. Peel and slice them into a large bowl, discarding the pits. In a small bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; pour the mixture over the peaches and toss gently to mix.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Unwrap one of the pastries, roll it out on a floured pastry cloth or counter, and transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate. Spoon the peach filling into the crust. Roll out the remaining pastry, place it on top of the filling, trim the edges of both crusts, and crimp them to seal in the peaches. Cut vent holes in the top crust with a sharp knife.

In a small bowl, whisk egg and water together with a fork to form an egg wash. Lightly brush this over the pastry and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

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