It has been a few summers since I last made a peach pie, but from past experience I know that I am a peach pie purist. Sweet-honeyed fruit encased in a buttery crust needs no adornment, no spices, and no additional flavorings: just perfect peaches sweetened with a bit of sugar, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt to enhance their natural flavor. So, when I set out to make my ideal peach pie the only decision I had to make was whether to peel the fruit. I took a little informal survey on Instagram and Facebook to see how you all feel about peeling peaches and I got a lot of impassioned responses on both sides, but in the end sided with my pro-peeling pal Elizabeth and carefully peeled mine with a vegetable peeler (a great method she suggested I can't believe I hadn't done before). You can also blanch and peel the peaches, which I have done in the past, but using a peeler was so much easier.
Go forth and pie, Summer's not over yet guys!
p.s. if you live near NYC, Fishkill Farms still has a lot of lovely and tasty peaches and nectarines in their PYO fields, which is where these field photos were taken. Don't forget to wear a hat and sunscreen if you decide to venture out to the orchards!
Straight-Up Peach Pie
Most peach pie recipes call for 3/4-1 cup of sugar, which I think is waaay too much for in-season, sweet fruit so I have reduced it to 1/2 cup for this recipe. Feel free to use light brown sugar here in place of the granulated for a richer flavor. I like my peach pies super simple, so there are no spices at all in this pie, but sometimes a tiny bit of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon is nice.
12 ounces all purpose flour
1 teaspoons salt
9 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 ounces ice cold water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
7 medium peaches (about 3 1/2 lbs), ripe but firm
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
juice from 1/2 lemon
egg, for egg wash
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
To make the crust:
To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut in half of the butter until it is the size of peas, then cut in the other half until it is the size lima beans. Some of the butter will be completely worked into the flour, but you should have lots of visible pieces of butter in the dough too. Add the apple cider vinegar to the water. Sprinkle about 1/2 of the water over the dough. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to mix the water into the flour until just combined. If the dough seems very dry, add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it together without it falling apart. Press the dough together, then split it in half, form into discs and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least one hour before using, or overnight.
To Assemble and Bake
Preheat oven to 425º and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into a 12-inch circle about 1/4-1/8-inch thick and place it into a 9-inch pie pan. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the pie.
Roll out the other piece of dough into a 12-inch circle about 1/4-1/8-inch thick and place it in the fridge on a sheet pan to chill while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling: use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel the peaches. Cut them into 1/2-inch wedges and add them to a bowl. Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt and lemon juice. Stir gently to combine. If the peaches seem especially juicy, add a bit more cornstarch.
Fill the prepared pie shell with the peaches and top with the second crust. Crimp the edges and cut a few vents in the top.
Alternately, you can top the pie with a lattice-style crust as I've done in the photos above. Here is a link to a great photo tutorial on Simply Recipes. When I make a lattice topped pie, I like to use nice thick strips of dough, so the ones pictured above are about 2-inches wide.
Slide the whole pie into the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes or until the crust is nice and firm before you bake it. When you are ready to bake, brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a healthy dose of coarse sugar.
Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of your oven, then lower the oven temp to 400º and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble. Cool before serving.