The taste of a fresh peach in the summertime is truly an inimitable experience: a sun-warmed, fuzzy exterior yielding to reveal a juicy and subtly sweet flavor. During their peak season (July and August), peaches proliferate in stores and on roadside stands, beckoning us to snack...or better yet, to bake.
Did you know August is National Peach Month? Let's celebrate with this mouthwatering recipe for juicy, fresh peach pie!
Baking peaches allows their unique sweetness to shine. This recipe is made with minimal sugar, instead allowing the naturally sweetness of the ripe fruit. It tastes like concentrated bite of summer, encased in a rich, buttery pie crust.
What type of peaches should I use?
You can use white or yellow peaches for this recipe. You just want to make sure that they are ripe, but still firm.
What should I look for in my peaches?
Fruits should be fragrant and soft but not mushy. Skin near the stem should be yellow or cream colored; if it’s green, the peach was picked too early.
Do I have to peel the peaches?
Sorry for the added work, but yes. Even if you like the texture of peach skin, that fuzziness doesn't quite translate once the peaches are baked. It is distracting at best, gluey and gummy at worst. Regarding the red bits near the pit, some say these should be removed as well, as they are the least sweet part of the peach. This is up to you, however. If you prefer very sweet to lightly sweet, you may want to remove this part of the peach slices.
How can I store peaches if they're not ripe yet or I'm not quite ready to bake the pie?
First off, handle them gently. Let them ripen in a cool, dry place, stem end down. Also, you can refrigerate peaches up to five days in the crisper.
What if I have leftover peaches?
That's easy. Make jam, eat them out of hand, or use them as a cake filling or topping.
Does this pie taste good with ice cream?
You bet your bottom dollar it does. In fact, it's highly suggested.
Regarding the crust:
This recipe calls for a double pie crust. However, you do have some freedom regarding the crust. You can use your favorite recipe, or even a store-bought pie crust mix (a frozen crust is fine for the bottom, but not the top). If desired, you could even use a cookie crumb crust for this pie. If desired, you could substitute a crumb topping for the top crust, too.
The top crust can be simply laid on top of the pie and punctured with the tines of a fork to allow steam to vent, or you can make a decorative pie crust pattern like in the photographs. Details can be found in the recipe below.
Putting foil around the edges of the pie crust will keep the edges from burning. They tend to bake faster than the middle of the pie, so this ensures that the browning is even.
To sharpen your skills in creating the perfect pie crust, be sure to take a look at Evan Kleiman's new Craftsy class, The Art of the Pie Crust. Evan will walk you through a variety of ingredients, tools and techniques that go into creating an excellent crust.
Regarding the peaches:
When cutting the peaches, the slices shouldn't be too thick, but you don't want them sliver-thin, either. Shoot for getting 8-10 slices from each peach for a good consistency for this pie.
This recipe calls for brown sugar, but whether you use light or dark brown sugar is up to you. The taste will be different depending on which type you use: light brown sugar will have a more mellow, caramel-like flavor, and dark brown sugar will have a more rich, slightly molasses-like taste.
The egg wash is not strictly necessary, but it does lend a pretty, polished look to your finished product.
Makes one 9-inch pie
- Dough for two 9-inch pie crusts
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 4 1/2 cups sliced peeled peaches (6-8 whole peaches, depending on the size)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 egg, lightly beaten (for an egg wash)
Prepare your pie crust so that the bottom crust is in the pan and in the refrigerator. The top crust can be resting in the refrigerator too, but don't roll it out quite yet.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar and the sliced peaches. Toss gently. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for one hour.
After an hour, place the peaches in a strainer over a saucepan, so that the juices can drain into the pan. Give them a gentle stir to ensure you've gotten as much of the liquid out of the mixture as possible. Place the peaches back in the large bowl and set to the side for the moment.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add this mixture to the peach juice in the saucepan. Heat on medium-low on the stovetop, stirring constantly to keep the mixture from scorching or caramelizing. Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue stirring constantly for one minute. It should start to become rather thick. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and butter; the butter should melt very rapidly.
Pour the hot mixture on top of the peaches and gently mix, so that the peaches are evenly coated with the mixture. It will be quite thick. Remove the bottom crust from the refrigerator. Spoon this mixture into the crust.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven preheats, roll out the remaining pastry. At this point, you can simply roll it into a circle and place it on top of the pie for a traditional double crust, adding several pricks with a fork to allow steam to vent.
Or, if you would like to make a decorative pie crust, roll the pastry as you would to make a top crust. Cut out as many circles as you can from the pastry. Slice each of the circles into fourths, so that they form wedge-like triangles.
Place the wedges in concentric circles, starting from the outside in, of the pie. There is no need to poke these with holes as there are gaps which will allow steam to vent.
Lightly brush the crust with the egg wash. (optional)
Cover the edges loosely with foil.
Place the pie in the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Remove foil. Cool on a wire rack for several hours before serving.