Tag Archives: peaches

Peach Blackberry Pie, Version 1.0

9 Aug

Peaches and blackberries have pretty much the same season around here. Which sounds to me like they ought to experience some of the same desserts together. We already did a crisp, so when I asked Ben what to do with the other half of the peaches: work on perfecting the crisp or do a pie, he was pretty quick to answer pie.

I cut up four small peaches last week as part of the ends of our basket of seconds, but then put them in the fridge to keep until I made pie. Which is a week later. Which means they have started to ferment. I think that’s a good thing, actually.

What happens when the fetus inside starts kicking at the flour-covered counter. Also, pie.

Also, since it took a week to get to this pie, there were a lot fewer blackberries to add to it. I can proudly say we lost very few to mold. Most of them were lost to ice cream. So instead of little dots of cooked blackberry, I pureed them with the tablespoon of sugar, strained out the seedy bits, and used it as more of a sauce. I had figured since the first half of the peaches had fermented, I would skip the bourbon, but the blackberries were stubbornly not blending without more liquid, so a hint did show up in the sauce. Not even a full splash — let’s call it a “splish”. I think I’ve made my position on cooked peaches pretty clear: they require bourbon, as does banana bread, Southern grandmothers, and largely pregnant women who have just discovered the third-trimester back ache. (Sadly, thanks to the hormones, my tolerance is down to that of five year old, and since I think an intoxicated fetus is a poor choice, I’ve limited myself to quantities that won’t even get me buzzed, which means I have to get my bourbon fix through baking, and satisfy myself with the very occasional miniature glass of wine or half a beer. You cannot pick crabs without beer. It’s just Not Right.)

When I’m looking for a baking recipe, this is the crazy that I go through: Open my binder of print-outs to see if I’ve already got a recipe I like. Check ALL THREE OF THESE BOOKS to compare recipes. Search online for additional options. Eventually settle on an amalgam of about fifteen recipes. Throw in a hefty dash of “winging it.”

I’ve struggled with finding a good pie crust recipe. I kept trying these “no fail” recipes, like one from Alton Brown, or Cooks Illustrated, or even Bakewise, but their easy “no fail” techniques to adapt the traditional crust always left me with sticky, messy dough. Oh sure, it baked up tasty, but in our humid kitchen, I couldn’t get a sticky pie dough to transform into a pretty pie crust. It’s summer time in Maryland. The humidity is about 138%, unless it’s raining or you turn your air conditioning down to 50.

I did learn a lot from all those recipes, however. Shirley Corriher’s technique of adding a little vinegar gave the crust a flavor I liked a lot (she says it helps with “tenderness”). So when I went back to the super-traditional crust recipe, I threw a splash of vinegar into the ice water. Alton’s advice about chilling the dough is helpful, although mine never stays as cold as he recommends, and CI’s admonishments about over-handling the dough… well, okay, I completely ignore those. But when it comes to my baking, I’m a handsy kind of girl.

We made a double recipe of the crust, which turned into a Peach Blackberry Pie and Welsh Pasties.

A pocket full of delicious dinner. Crust by Megan, pork filling by Ben.

DAIRY SUBSTITUTIONS:

If you use shortening in your pie crust, then the answer is NONE. If you use butter, then you want a good butter-alternative. I like Earth Balance for baking.

THE RECIPE:

Filling:

  • 4-6 medium sized peaches, fresh and in season

Peel using your favorite method. I like to wash them, cut them into wedges, and pull the skin off with a paring knife. If they’re ripe enough, I can almost use my fingers to get just the skin, leaving all the fruit intact. Then, cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces.

  • a handful of blackberries
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Small splash of bourbon

Combine in small food processor, with a stick blender (if yours hasn’t mysteriously DIED FOR NO REASON), or mash up by hand. Strain into a bowl (or directly over the cut peaches) to remove all the stems and seeds. Add:

  • 1 Tbsp flour

Stir the whole mess together to get a pinkish peach gooey loveliness. If your pie crust isn’t ready yet, toss the bowl in the fridge while you finish it.

Roll out the crust into your pie plate, add the filling, then roll out the top crust. Don’t forget to cut vents so the top doesn’t explode. Bake according to the crust recipe instructions, which in our case was 45 minutes at 450°F.

I would include a picture of the inside, but we may have eaten it all.

What To Make When You Buy A Thousand Peaches: Peach Crisp

21 Jul

Simultaneously a simple and complicated dessert.

I went to the farmer’s market this week. Since we’ve been out of town, it’s felt like ages since I had myself a good peach (okay, it was eleven days). Also, it was my birthday and I felt indulgent. So not only did I buy a week’s supply of perfect peaches (both white and yellow), I also picked up a quarter-bushel of seconds. Well, I think it was a quarter-bushel. Look, I don’t actually know how much a bushel is, but it was one of those pretty wooden baskets that’s the smaller size but not the smallest size. And it was four dollars, and one of them is the size of Nimitz’s head.

I figured if I had two thousand peaches, I would feel okay about cooking some instead of greedily slicing them and stuffing them into my mouth. (I slice them first because I get organic produce, and I like to see the bugs before I bite into them, thanks.) So that’s what I did. Well, first a couple got sacrificed to the Beast Within, but then I figured I’d better bake some of them. I found a suitable recipe in Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food (a lovely gift from the cast of Barack Stars, which gets broken out whenever I have a super-simple thing I want to make but am not quite sure how), and made the crisp topping yesterday.

DAIRY ADJUSTMENTS:

The only dairy adjustment I had to make was swapping out Earth Balance for butter, which at this point I consider to be not an adjustment at all. If you’re dealing with nut allergies, you should adjust the crisp topping accordingly — maybe add some oats instead to help absorb moisture. And if you’re dealing with a gluten issue, I’d say go with a cobbler instead and use your favorite gluten-free biscuit recipe on top.

I also added oats to the topping because oats make me think I’m eating healthy, although I forgot to add them while mixing and instead just sprinkled them on top. And bourbon, because you can’t have cooked peaches without bourbon.

Served elegantly in… a bowl. Look, I’m working on the whole presentation thing, but plating is an entirely different matter. Besides, we were ready to just veg in front of Netflix by that point, so don’t judge me.

RECIPE:

Topping (makes 3 cups):

  • 1 cup nuts (I used walnuts and almonds)

Chop in food processor. Then add:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 6 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Process until mixed, maybe one or two pulses. Add:

  • 12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter (or butter substitute, aka Earth Balance), chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup oats (optional)

Pulse a few more times to combine, so that it’s still grainy, not a thick dough. Toss in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Can be refrigerated for a week-ish, frozen much longer.

Filling:

  • 4 ripe peaches, or however many it takes till it looks like it’ll fill your dish.
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp (-ish) brown sugar
  • splash of bourbon (I just used Jim Beam)

Pit and peel the peaches (She recommends a quick dip in boiling water to get the skins off more easily. I don’t know what’s wrong with her California peaches, but my Maryland peaches peel with absolutely no trouble), then cut into bite-sized chunks.

Toss the peaches with flour, brown sugar, and bourbon, and put them in your baking dish. Top with the crisp mixture (you don’t have to use all of it), and sprinkle a few more oats on top just to be thorough. Bake for 40-45 min at 375°F (See Notes), or until the crust starts to turn golden and you just can’t stand it anymore.

NOTES:

I forgot to add oats while mixing the crisp topping, so I just threw a ton on top. We liked it, but wanted more oats (thus the adaptation to add 1/4 cup in with the crisp topping).

Next time, I would also change the crisp to peaches ratio. This one turned out about one to one, but the peach juices also bubbled over, which means the dish really couldn’t handle any more. If I had a deeper dish, I might use more peaches and match it to the full crisp recipe.

Our oven is notoriously unreliable — the knob has almost no relationship to the temperature inside the oven. So throughout baking, I check every 15 minutes or so to make sure the thermometer inside the oven is near where we want it. For instance, for this recipe we wanted a temperature around 375°F, so we set the dial between 250 and 300 (yes, I purposely omitted the degree symbol, since those numbers clearly have nothing to do with temperature).