Friday Pie-Day {Peach}

I’m still a bit ruffled from my quarrel with peach pie this past week.  Turns out Little Miss Peach Pie doesn’t like to cooperate and make things easy.  She prefers to shake things up a bit, start a fight, not turn out the way you expect her too.  But I did not surrender.  I figured out her secrets, learned the ins and out of how she works, and then I baked her into submission.  I will not be bossed around by a pie.

The only time I’ve made peach pie before this week was several years ago for a Marmalade family event.  I brought two desserts, one of which was a caramel peach pie.  It was delicious, but took forever to make, and was one of the more complicated desserts I have baked in my lifetime.  For the Summer of Pies, I wanted a classic well-behaved easy-to-replicate peach pie.  So I found a recipe called Piled High Peach Pie, and decided to give it a try.  Let me show you what happened…

The first step in any peach pie is peeling the peaches.  It has to be done, there is no way around it, and experts agree, there is only one efficient way to peel peaches.  You have to boil them.

Start by cutting an X into the bottom of each peach, and bring a pot of water to a boil.

This is an ice bath…a really large bowl filled with ice and water.  This will be used to shock the peaches when you remove them from the boiling water and will stop them from cooking any further.

Make sure you set the ice bath very close to the pot of boiling water.

Use a strainer to lower the peaches into the boiling water.

Boil the peaches for 30 to 45 seconds.

Use the strainer to remove them from the boiling water and place them immediately into the ice bath.

See how the skins are starting to peel back?  At this point it takes very little effort to slip the peach flesh away from the outer skin.

Once the peaches are peeled, they are ready to be pitted and sliced for the filling.

So I followed my recipe for peach pie.

Let me pause here and say that just because a recipe has a nice title does not mean it has nice results.  Piled High Peach Pie…who wouldn’t want to try that deliciousness?  I mean, it’s got a nice name, surely it’s a nice pie, right?

Wrong.

It should have been called Soggy Bottom Stupid Peach Pie.  After all that work, this is what I ended up with…

Gross.  Watery.  Soupy.  And it tasted like baby food.  I’m not kidding.  It was so bad we threw it out.  But not before I left it out on the counter for a day giving it the evil eye while trying to decide what to do next.  Should I just choose a new pie and forget peach?  Should I try the recipe again?  I got kind of angry at the pile of peach mess in my pie plate, and I decided I didn’t feel like being beaten by a pastry.  I’m not a quitter.  I’m not giving up.  It’s the Summer of Pies for goodness sake.  How can you have the Summer of Pies without a peach pie?

I called in the experts.  There is only one place I go when I want to know the science and scoop behind a recipe…Cook’s Illustrated.  These people know their stuff.  When they present you with a recipe, you can rest assured that they have tried every possible variation, tested every possible ingredient, and spent hours working out the kinks to provide the best recipe possible.  Sure enough, they had a lot to say about peach pie.

I started over.  Back to the drawing board, or rather, the cutting board.  I showed up armed with a new recipe, confident that the people at Cooks Illustrated weren’t going to let me down.  I put on my best baking face and got to work.  {Spoiler alert…this story has a happy ending!}

The new recipe {Ginger Peach Pie} included ingredients like fresh lemon juice and zest, two kinds of sugar, crystalized ginger, and tapioca.

This is crystalized ginger.  It is sort of like candied ginger…sweet yet spicy.

This is tapioca.  It is used as a thickening agent.

It comes in a box like this and can be found on the baking aisle.  I have no prior experience with this stuff, but apparently it’s one of the secrets to successful peach pie.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl.

Let the filling sit for 15 minutes.  All the juices started to make me nervous, but I pressed on.  I also noticed that you can see the small white pellets of tapioca.  As I learned, this is normal.  They are supposed to be there.

Pour the filling and all the juices {still nervous} into the pie crust…

…dot with butter…

…and top with a second pie crust.  Don’t forget to cut four to six slits in the top to allow the steam to escape.  {How do you like my square pie?  It takes a lot of talent to make a square pie.}

Bake the pie for 25 minutes at 400, then 40 minutes at 350.

It came out looking lovely, despite it’s ridiculous shape {what in the world?}.  But, I wasn’t yet convinced.  The Soggy Bottom Stupid Peach Pie had looked fine when I took her out of the oven, but she turned out to be nothing but a mess.  First impressions could not be trusted.  The truth could only be revealed upon slicing and serving.  Would this one let me down?

No she would not.  She sliced up into perfect little wedges with all her fruit filling staying put.  There was not a single bit of drippy watery peach filling anywhere.  And the flavor?  Off the charts.  This pie was more than just sweet peaches in flaky crust.  The ginger, lemon, and brown sugar really took the flavor to the next level without overshadowing the peaches.

In the battle of home cook vs. peach pie, I left victorious.  Try it for yourself and see!

Click below for printable copies of the recipes.

{Perfect Pie Crust}

{Ginger Peach Pie}

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4 Responses to Friday Pie-Day {Peach}

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  2. Pingback: Friday Pie-Day {Tomato and Cheddar} | katherine sasser

  3. Nuria Gómez says:

    LOL! Can´t believe you kept on with your try! Hope, someday, I´ll have time to try cooking a pie. . . just don´t expect me to start with such a high level tech recipe like this! :D

  4. kellie b. says:

    i totally laughed at your first pie! when you told me how bad it was i still didn’t have a picture in my mind what it looked like and you filled in the blank perfectly & well done w/ the square pie…impressive! :)

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