Earlier this week I made a fresh peach salsa and grilled peaches to serve with a pork tenderloin. As I prepared the peaches I was impressed by their sweet fragrance and juicy texture. “These would make a great dessert”, I said to myself. Back to the supermarket I went to find another few pounds of those perfect peaches. The lattice-top pastry is a great choice for juicy fruit fillings. It allows the fruit to bubble up and the juices to reduce so the pie is not flooded with juice when sliced for serving. And contrary to my usual habit, I made an all-butter pie crust. The fragrance of this pie as it baked was amazing; buttery pastry, peaches seasoned with vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It made the requisite two hour wait to cut into the pie seem much longer. But it was worth it! There is plenty of flakiness and the unmistakable flavor of butter in the crust; it’s crisp on the bottom, and the peach filling is moist and juicy. This one is a winner and a valuable addition to my summer pie recipe collection. With a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, you have peach pie perfection.
Lattice-Top Peach Pie
(makes one 9-inch pie , about 8 servings)
1 recipe all-butter double-crust pie dough (see below)
2 1/2 pounds ripe peaches (6 to 7 medium), peeled, pitted, and sliced 1/3 inch thick*
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (you can adjust the sugar in proportion to the ripeness of your fruit)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
milk or cream, for brushing the pastry before baking
Roll one half of the pastry into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured work surface, then fit it into a 9-inch pie plate, letting the excess dough hang over the edge. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll the other half of the dough into a 13 1/2 by 10 1/2 inch rectangle, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Trim the dough to a 13 by 10-inch rectangle with straight edges and slice it lengthwise into eight 13-inch long strips. Separate the strips slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until very firm, about 30 minutes. Toss the peaches and 3/4 cup of sugar together in a large bowl and let sit, tossing occasionally, until the peaches release their juice, about 30 minutes. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 425F. Drain the peaches thoroughly in a colander, reserving 1/4 cup of juice. In a large bowl toss the drained fruit, the reserved juice, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla together until well combined. Spread the peaches into the dough-lined pie plate and weave the chilled strips of dough over the top into a lattice. Let the strips soften for 5 to 10 minutes, then trim, fold, and crimp the edges of the pastry. Lightly brush the lattice with milk or cream and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375F, rotate the baking sheet, and continue to bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes longer. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for about 2 hours (until the filling has set). Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, if you wish.
*You can peel peaches with a serrated-edge peeler and avoid all the blanching and cooling usually involved with the process.
All-Butter Double-Crust Pie Dough
(makes enough for one 9-inch pie)
1/3 cup ice water, plus extra as needed
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, and extra for the work surface
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and frozen for 10 to 15 minutes.
Whisk together 1/3 cup of the ice water and the sour cream in a small bowl. Process the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor until combined. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of peas, about 10 pulses. Pour half of the sour cream mixture over the flour mixture and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Repeat with the remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch the dough with your fingers; if the dough feels dry and does not hold together, sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons more ice water over the mixture and pulse until the dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, 3 to 5 pulses. Divide the dough into two even pieces. Turn each piece of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Before rolling the dough out, let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
(minimally adapted from “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010”)