Friday, November 11, 2011

Epic Peach Pie

I thought this would be a good time to share the first of my very favourite recipes. 

Mmmmm....peach pie....

Epic Peach Pie. 

For my sisters engagement party a couple of months ago, she requested peach pie.  To this point in my life I have never made, let alone attempted, to make peach pie. 

So I did what I do when I don't know something...I walked over to my trusty laptop and I Googled 'Peach Pie'. 
However I did apply a little bit of my own logic (usually I just let Google do it all for me).  I knew that peach pie was a southern thing.  And who better to know about southern cooking then Paula Deen.  In this health conscious society (and yes, sadly because of the prevalence of heart disease and cancer in my family, I am one of the healthy-lemmings too - *most* of the time) it's nice to sit down and watch Paula Deen on the Food Network, knowing that if I were to eat that much butter as she cooks with everyday I'd look like one of the 'two fat ladies.'

And of course, Paula Deen didn't let me down.  She had a recipe for 'Peach Pie'.  Since I had never made peach pie before and it was my sister's engagement party, I decided to make a 'test pie' which turned into 3 separate attempts at the 'test pie'....and luckily all this practice made it 'Epic'.  I had so many compliments on the night of my sister's engagement party. 

The main things I changed were adding cinnamon, vanilla, reducing the amount of sugar and removing the juices that are given off during the 'stewing' process. 

Peach Pie
(yield = one 9" pie)

7 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (can substitute frozen slices) (don't slice them too thick or you'll be stewing forever)
½ lemon, juiced
1 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 prepared pastry for a 9” double crust pie (recipe I used below)
1 egg

(1) Make pastry. (recipe below) Put in fridge for at least 1/2 hour before use. 
(2) Preheat oven to 425º F.
(3) Roll one half of the pie dough out to fit the bottom of your pie pan, allowing a 1/2” over hang and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
(4) In a large sauce pan, add peaches, lemon juice, sugar and flour and stir until coated. Bring fruit mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about an hour or until fruit is just slightly tender. (I call this the 'stewing' phase) When stirring, be careful not to 'mush' the fruit.
Sliced peaches, stewing away...
(5) Remove pan from heat. Stir in almond extract, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and three tablespoons butter. Allow to cool slightly.
The next step will have you removing most of this liquid from the stewed peaches - otherwise you will end up with a soup-y pie...
(6) In a porous strainer, remove almost all liquid (yes, that's right, almost all).

I remove the excess liquid from the stewed peaches in batches through a porous colander (pictured above) that I have.  Try not to mush up the peaches while doing this....just toss them around a bit, gently with a spoon to get the liquid to release. 
(7) Remove pie pan from refrigerator and fill with the cooled mixture. Dot the top of the fruit with the pieces of the remaining two tablespoons butter. Roll out the second crust and decorate the top of the pie with a lattice top or any special way you like. (If covering the top of your pie completely with the top crust, make sure to cut slits in the top to allow the steam to escape) Decoratively crimp the edges.
Ready to bake!
(8) (optional) In a small bowl, whisk the egg together with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the top of your pie lightly with the egg wash.
(9) Bake for 10 minutes @425 then lower heat to 350ºF for an additional 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbly.
(10) Cool slightly before slicing.
Flaky Pastry  (makes 1 double crust 9" pie)

2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups vegetable shortening
4-6 tablespoons ice water

(1) Place flour and salt in a shallow mixing bowl and cut in shortening with dry clean fingers or pastry cutter until mixture resembles a coarse meal (large breadcrumbs). 
(2) Make a well in the middle of the mixture.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon in well and mix in lightly and quickly with fingertips, adding water 1 tablespoon water at a time until pastry just holds together. 
(3)Shape gently into a ball.  Wrap the ball with wax paper and place in fridge to chill for at least 1/2 hour before use.  Continue with step 2 above. 

Happy Cooking!

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