Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Peach Pie

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Peach season is winding down in our part of the world, and my peach tree has given all it will give this year. My husband and I spent a good chunk of his weekend processing peaches. Our dining room table was just full of them, and more hands make lighter work. So, he peeled and I sliced, tossed with lemon juice and packed three big zip-lock freezer bags up to use in the winter. But, we also had some that we left fresh. I made peach cobbler, peach and blueberry pies and also just a plain peach pie. That is the recipe I am sharing with you today. (I actually made the pies to freeze and then bake in the winter, so that is why the picture above is uncooked. I just put it in the freezer as is to get rock hard. Then, I wrapped it a few times in plastic wrap, and put it in a labeled zip-lock freezer bag. When the dead of winter hits and I want some warm, sweet peach pie, I can go to the freezer and have this waiting for me. I love it when I plan ahead!)
   If you don't happen to have fresh peaches on sale, you can use the frozen, or even the canned in a pinch, but you will need to taste your peaches for sweetness. My peaches are really sweet off my tree, so I didn't use as much sugar as I would have if I were using less desirable peaches from the store.  The sugar in this recipe is "to taste" so make sure the filling tastes good before you put it in your pie.

This is how it starts:

The peaches go into a large mixing bowl with some cornstarch. (I'm using 6 cups of peaches to fill a deep dish 9 inch pie). The more cornstarch you use, the thicker the filling will be. I recommend using 1/3 cup. (My peaches are really juicy.)

Next comes the cinnamon. I like a little warmth in the background, so that is why I like the cinnamon in this recipe. If you want just a straight, old fashioned peach pie, you can leave this out. I like it, though.

The sugar is next (remember it's to taste).

And a dash of salt gets added as well.  This just brings out the flavors of everything.

About 1 tsp of vanilla goes in,

and it all gets stirred together to combine well.

Now, I have a recipe for pie crust that I love, but I don't always have the time or patience to make it. So, on days like today I go for the frozen pie crust. I love the deep dish Marie Callender's pie shells for the bottom crust, but use what you'd like.  Since my pie is going in the freezer, I don't even thaw the pie shell out. Just take it from the freezer and fill it.

For the top crust, to make the pretty lattice top, I use a rolled Pillsbury crust. I use my pizza cutter and cut it into 1 inch strips. (This does have to be thawed out so it's pliable enough to roll out nicely.)

The filling gets poured into the pie shell - and don't forget all the juice in the bottom of the bowl. This has most of the cornstarch in it, and without this liquid your pie won't set up.

Even out the filling with your mixing spoon, and get ready to make it pretty.

I start by laying one strip across the bottom of the pie.

Then I lay down a strip across the right side of the pie.

I pull back the bottom strip over the side strip and place another strip going vertically - leaving about 1 inch in between.

I place the bottom strip back and then I do the same thing with the strip I just just placed vertically. (I fold back the vertical strip and lay down a second horizontal strip.) I love pictures right now. It's so much easier to show you what I'm doing instead of just trying to explain it with words!

Repeat the process, alternating vertical and horizontal strips of dough, keeping the basket weave pattern.

When I have 4 or 5 horizontal strips down, the work goes much faster.

Now I just fold back every other horizontal strip, and lay down a new vertical strip.

Then I fold back the other horizontal strips, that I left flat last time, and place yet another vertical strip down.

When all is said and done it should look something like this.

Just trim around the edges with a sharp knife,

and press the top crust to the bottom crust with your finger. (Follow the previously crimped edge of the bottom crust to keep it looking pretty.)

And this is the finished product. Ta-da! Now, if you want to freeze it like I did, just put it in the freezer as is and let it get hard. Then wrap it up tight with plastic wrap a few times and place it into a labeled gallon sized zip-lock bag and store it in your freezer to use at another date. You can cook it from frozen, it just takes longer and you need to cover it with foil for a little while to prevent burning.
   If, on the other hand, you want to bake it right away, set your oven to 350F. Brush the top with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the pie for about 45 minutes (until the crust is golden and the filling is boiling. Turn the oven off, slightly open the door and allow the pie to cool in the oven until able to touch with bare hands (this allows the filling to continue to thicken without the crust burning). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Basic Peach Pie

1 9 inch deep dish pie shell
1 9 inch pie crust, cut into 1 inch strips
6 full cups sliced peaches (I used 12 fresh peaches to get 6 cups)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt (about 1/4 tsp)
1/3 cup sugar (this will depend on how sweet your peaches are)
egg wash (1 egg with 1 Tbsp water)
sugar for sprinkling over the top 

Combine the peeled and sliced peaches in a large mixing bowl with the cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly, and pour filling into the 9 inch pie shell. Use the strips of pie crust to create a lattice top (see pictures). At this point the pie can be frozen for later use. If baking right away, brush the top crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake @ 350F for about 45 minutes (until the crust is brown and the filling is boiling). Turn the oven off and open the door slightly. Allow the pie to cool in the warm oven until you are able to touch it with your bare hands. Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream.

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