Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Peach Blackberry Pie

I used to claim my peach pie was the best I ever had.  In fact, I think the recipe may be called Best Peach Pie, I was so confident.    This year though, when I started to make The Pie, something seemed lacking.  It didn't have that WOW factor I thought it once I had.  I felt like it was undercooked.  I didn't like how hard the top of the pie was.  I searched for a new recipe.

It took me last than 10 minutes to decide to try a this recipe.  Since then, we've made it no fewer than 4 times this summer.  We loved it that much.  I made a few tweaks after the first time to get the crust not to get so dark, but other than that, it's been good to us.  Curtis tried his hand with it one day, thinking he could improve on it.  The only thing he thought that really improved it, was slicing the peaches more thinly and more carefully arranging them in the pie crust (instead of my dump and clean out with a spatula method).

Now I feel like once again I can claim my peach pie is the best I've ever had.  It's perfect this time.  Really.  At least until one or two or five summers from now when I decide it isn't.

This does take a chunk of time to make, mostly because the crust is so fussy.  It's a wonderfully rich butter crust, but it does have to chill twice and blind bake before filling it with fruit and baking it again.

Peach Nectarine Pie
adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 c butter (20 T)
4 - 10 T water (I know that's a big range---I've used between 5 - 6 usually, sometimes more)
2 1/2 lbs (6 c) peaches, sliced thinly (we leave the peel on, but we're just like that)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/2 T cornstarch
1 T vanilla
2 c blackberries
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
coarse sugar (Demera or "raw" or decorators's sugar)

For the crust:  Pulse together the flour and salt in a food processor.  Add the butter and very briefly pulse---just until butter breaks up into chickpea sized chunks.  Add the water, 1 T at a time and pulse just until the mixture holds together (you do not want the mixture forming a ball and spinning around the sides of the food processor bowl).  Form the dough into a two balls, set each on a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk.  Firmly cover/seal the dough with the plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least an hour before rolling out and baking.

If you've refrigerated the dough for significantly more than an hour let rest on the counter a minute or two before rolling out.  You can tell if you need to do this if the dough is too hard to roll and immediately breaks apart when you are rolling it.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of pie crust to fit a 9" pan (the dough should maybe be 13 - 14 inches in diameter).  Place in 9" pan and flute the edges.  Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.  With the second ball, roll out thinly and cut out 10 - 15 shapes using a cookie cutter.  I choose flower shapes---both big and small (mostly because I didn't want Christmas or Halloween themed shapes on my summer pie).  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the filling:
Combine the peaches in a large bowl with lemon juice.  Gently stir in the sugar, brown sugar, and salt, and allow to macerate (sit unattended) on the counter for 30 minutes.  While the peaches macerate, prebake the crust in a preheated 375 degrees oven.  Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges of the crust begin to crisp.  Remove the weights and foil and bake an additional 5 minutes to crisp the bottom of the crust.

Once the peaches have finished macerating (I just like using that word!), add the cornstarch and vanilla to the fruit and stir until the cornstarch dissolves.  Add the blackberries and very gently toss.  Scrape the fruit into the pre-baked pie shell.  Arrange the pie crust cutouts on the tope, touching at places but not totally covering it.  Brush the cutouts with the egg white glaze and sprinkle lightly with the coarse sugar.  Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven (yes, this is higher than before) for 40 minutes.

Around 30 minutes into baking time, check the edges of the crust.  If it appears to be browning to quickly or getting to dark, very, very lightly tent a piece of foil over top.  After the initial 40 minutes of baking at 400 degrees, lower the oven temp to 350 and bake an additional 15 - 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling.   You want to leave the pie in the oven as long as possible so the cornstarch activates and thickens the filling.  However, if you are concerned that the crust just won't taste good because it's so dark, take it out of the oven.  It will be more edible with a runny filling than with burnt crust.

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