Summer is short where I live and this year it feels like its gone by so fast. A visit to the farmers market was in order and I came home with fruits and veg. A lot of it. 1o pounds of the last of the last cherries, and 10 pounds of the first peaches. Not quite local fruit but wonderfully fragrant. 20 pounds of fruit is a lot to handle but I wanted the cherries to freeze for later. Which of course meant pitting all the cherries. During a long snowy winter the best thing you can do is to pull out a couple of handfuls of summer cherries. I use them in clafoutis, and for fruit compotes, or I suppose you could make cherry jam or a cherry pie during the winter.
The peaches were for eating fresh out of hand and for a pie. I don’t have a large family so I called up a few friends to enjoy the pie with. Fruit pies are best eaten on the same day, on the second day they become either stale or soggy. Fresh fruit pies are an extravagance to me. There is nothing like a fresh fruit pie and they are as easy as pie to put together. I find it unsettling to hear of people making homemade pies and finding out they use store bought crusts from the freezer case and cans of gloopy pie filling from the shelf.
There is nothing difficult about putting a pie together and fruit pies are some of simplest. There are a few tricks that I’ve discovered over the years that I found really improve a pie. For the pastry make sure to add the minimum amount of water or your dough will be on the tough and chewy side no matter what. Lard (not shortening) will make the crust flaky, butter will give it flavor. I sometimes make the pastry the day before which makes assembling the pie the next day a snap. Keep the pastry cold at all times and rest the dough in the fridge after rolling it out and before the filling is added. I always place the pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips; no one likes cleaning an oven with burnt-on pie juices. Bake your pies in a hot oven to start then turn the temperature down. Bake your pies long enough so that the bottom crust gets browned and the filling is bubbly. If the pie is browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil. Cool for 2-3 hours before slicing so that the juices and filling sets and you get a nice slice.
Peeling peaches is fun, your hands will smell of peaches afterwards. Just score an X on the peach using a sharp knife, drop into boiling water for 20-40 seconds, then plunge into ice water. The skins will just slip off after that. The lattice top crust is also a fun touch, just pretend you are in elementary school doing a basket weave and don’t take it too seriously.
2 1⁄2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1⁄2 tsp salt
10 tbsp lard
8 tbsp butter
6+ tbsp ice water
3 lbs peaches, peeled and sliced
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄4 tsp salt
5 tbsp flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
For the crust:
Blend together dry ingredients and cut in the butter and lard using a pastry blender or fingers or 2 butter knives. Add in the ice water, the minimum amount that will form a dough. Gather up the pastry into a ball. Divide into 2 pieces, one piece slightly larger. Flatten into disks and chill 2 hours. This dough can be made a day ahead or frozen and defrosted in the refrigerator overnight.
Assemble the pie:
Mix the filling ingredients together and let sit 10 – 30 minutes. Roll out the large round of dough to 13″ round and place in a 9″ pie plate. Spoon filling into pie shell and any juices that will fit. Roll out top crust and cut into 1⁄2″ strips using a knife or pastry wheel. Form the lattice on the pie, trim the overhang to a 1⁄2″, fold over the pastry edge and crimp decoratively. If you want, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes on a cookie sheet in the lower third of a preheated 375°F oven until filling bubbles and crust is golden. Cover edge of crust with foil if browning too quickly. Cool to room temperature before serving.