My good friend, next-door neighbor, and sometime cooking student, Mike (below), knows that if you really don’t want to make pie dough, it’s fine with me that you use purchased refrigerator case pie dough (not frozen). I’d love for you to bake pie however it happens. Hopefully next time –or sometime–you’ll try to make dough; practice definitely improves the product. Take it from me.
above: Mike and me
Even veteran pie bakers make big mistakes and messes (occasionally throwing out a piece of dough and beginning over, for instance). Luckily, we can still eat most of them:
Read all about this mess here: Helen’s Cherry Pie, Constructed and Deconstructed
Pie making is a tasty skill well worth learning and you’ll be amazed at the friends you’ll make once folks figure out you make pie–even if you do drop one or two along the way.
Of course I like Colorado peaches best for peach pie, but I hope you can find delicious peaches wherever you live. When it’s time for peaches at your market or from your trees, should you be so very, very blessed, do try this:
SHE’S A PEACH! BROWN SUGAR AND SPICE PIE
makes one 10-inch pie serves 8
These are fairly detailed directions. If you’re a veteran pie maker, make your own dough, mix the filling, fill, top, and bake! By the way, to keep the bottom crust crisper, I sprinkle a little flour onto it right before I add the peach mixture. Should you only have a 9-inch pie plate, scale the filling ingredients down by 25% or so. Leave the pie dough as is and make pie dough cookies.
PIE DOUGH INGREDIENTS
You might have dough leftover for pie dough cookies.*
- 2 2/3 cups unbleached white flour–plus a teaspoon for the bottom of the crust
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup (8 ounces or two sticks), very cold or frozen butter—cut into pieces about 1 tablespoon (1 ounce) each I like salted butter, but you can use unsalted if you prefer.
- ½ cup (4 ounces) ice water or a bit more if needed (I measure 1/2 cup into a liquid measuring cup, add 2 ice cubes, use that, and add more if I need it as I live at altitude where everything is dry as sticks.)
- 6 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced thickly
- 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 5 tablespoons all purpose, unbleached flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- Tiniest pinch ground cayenne pepper
- Grated rind of one orange
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 egg, well-beaten mixed with 1 teaspoon of water (egg wash for top of pie before baking)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar for top of pie before baking
FOR THE TOP OF THE CRUST RIGHT BEFORE BAKING:
- 1 egg beaten well with a teaspoon of water
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar to sprinkle
Make the dough–
1. Place flour, salt, cinnamon, sugar (if using), and cold butter in a food processor or regular bowl. Using the steel blade, two knives, a pastry cutter, or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour and salt until dough is peppered with several different size pieces of fat and flour.
2. With machine running, or while stirring, pour ice water into dough in a steady stream. Process or stir (you can use your hands, but the warmth isn’t the best thing for pie dough) until the dough just barely comes together. Remove carefully from bowl or food processor, if using, and knead a bit, to bring dough together.
3. Form into a large ball quickly and cut into two even halves. Wrap each well and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (See Baker’s Note below for immediate rolling.)
Make the filling–
4. In a medium bowl, gently mix peaches with orange juice. Set aside. In a small bowl, using a fork or whisk, stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange rind. Tip flour mixture on top of the peach mixture and carefully mix until thoroughly combined.
5. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator and roll out evenly between two sheets of waxed paper on a damp counter. Or roll out on floured counter with floured rolling pin, lifting and turning dough a few times (spreading a bit more flour meanwhile) while rolling to keep dough from sticking. Place the pie pan upside down on the dough to measure and make sure you’ve rolled the dough large enough; it should be at least an inch larger than the pie plate.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Position rack at center of oven.**
6. Flip dough over, roll pin over once, and carefully, steadily lift paper off circle of dough. Turn dough over again and carefully place in pie plate. Peel off paper gently. Pinch together the edges of the dough evenly around perimeter of pie to make a solid edge.
7. Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with a teaspoon of flour. Spoon the peach mixture smoothly into the bottom crust. Add tiny pieces of butter evenly over the filling. The butter melts into the pie and melds with the flour or other binder to help thicken the filling. Butter is also a main flavor in pie–especially in the crust.
8. Repeat above (#5) with the other piece of dough and place it on top of the pie filling. Again, carefully peel off the paper and by working quickly and gently with your fingers, center the dough over the filling and butter. Don’t stretch the dough. Leave the excess hanging, patch holes, torn “corners” (if necessary) with extra dough if needed, smoothing with a few drops of water. Trim dough so that you have about one inch of overhang. Pinch bottom and top edges together and crimp as desired with fingers or by pressing the tines of a dinner fork along edge until sealed.
TIP: I crimp the edges once with my fingers and then again exactly in the same spots to make sure I have grooves that will have staying power through the heat of the oven. (I promise I’ll try to take some improved crimping photos soon. These are quite old!)
With a small sharp knife, cut several slits at equal intervals into the top crust to vent the pie–a decorative pattern is fun here: P for Peach Pie, T for Tom (if it’s Tom’s birthday), outline of a cherry for Cherry Pie, etc. I always slice a few extra arrows or similar, too.
Scroll down to MORE INFO for a link to a video about crimping.
Brush the top crust lightly with a little of the beaten egg mixture and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. (Cook the rest of the egg for the dog.)
BAKER’S NOTE (Easier rolling): You can also roll out the dough while it’s soft before it’s refrigerated. Put each piece in a pie plate (or one in the plate and one on a sheetpan), wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. You can also wrap each in a big sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate up to overnight–which might mean you’ll need to let it warm up a few minutes on the counter before filling and crimping so it doesn’t crack. You can also freeze this dough, well-wrapped–for up to 2 months.
BAKE THE PIE AND SERVE:
9. Place the filled pie on a baking sheet and put the baking sheet on the center rack of the preheated oven (425F). Bake 15 minutes.
10. Lower temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake perhaps another 40 minutes OR until pie is bubbling through slits and crust is golden brown. Check after 20 minutes and cover loosely with foil if the pie is browning too quickly. It is hard to over bake this pie…it should look as golden or brown and bubbly as you’d like it to look.
11. Remove from oven to cooling rack and cool nearly completely–at least two hours– before cutting or you’ll have a weeping mess.
STORAGE: Store a fruit pie in cool weather 2-3 days, well-wrapped, on the counter. Refrigerate, well-wrapped, in hot or humid weather after cooling. Fruit pie keeps well-wrapped in the refrigerator 4-5 days. Freeze, well and tightly wrapped in foil or in double freezer bags for 6-8 months. To thaw: remove from freezer, let sit several hours wrapped before unwrapping and cutting to serve.
*Extra dough can be cut into strips, fried in a little hot oil in a small skillet, removed to a plate and sprinkled with lots of cinnamon sugar for Pie Dough Cookies.
**Some pie bakers like to begin baking their pies on the bottom shelf of the oven and then move them up to the middle later–to ensure a quite browned crust. As I don’t like jiggling hot pie around in the oven, I don’t do this. Try it if you like and are quite strong!
For pie info on the blog, type Pie 101 or just Pie or even Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie into the search box. There are lots of posts on pie. (Above pie: Kathy’s Apple Pie 101)
BOOKS YOU MIGHT LIKE:
Many basic, all-around cookbooks (JOY OF COOKING, GOURMET COOKBOOK, BETTY CROCKER, BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS etc.) contain an excellent pie section. If you haven’t one of those books on your shelf, start by visiting a bookstore and choosing the basic cookbook that attracts you the most. Bake a few pies–and other things!– and then spread out to a specialty book like:
THE PIE AND PASTRY BIBLE by Rose Levy Beranbaum
BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS by Dorie Greenspan (more than pies)
THE ART OF THE PIE by Kate McDermott (includes excellent GF info)
PIE IN THE SKY by Susan Purdy (high altitude)
THE FANNIE FARMER BAKING BOOK by Marion Cunningham (Out of print, but used copies are often available. Well worth seeking out.)
above: my Pumpkin Pie 101
What I’m reading:
Saveur (magazine) sponsors a sort of “cook the book” each month– currently the delectable and addictive HONEY FROM A WEED, a book that takes the cake for both prose and food. Join up, read, cook something, post a photo if you can, and enjoy the summertime food. August, 2018 is moderated by well-known cooking teacher and writer Kate Hill.
Here’s my first choice to cook — La Frittata, page 91–as we needed breakfast Saturday morning. From the fridge ratatouille and green beans graced the eggs and I topped it all with fresh garden basil. Not a great photo, but just a quick shot from my phone before we dug in–