But I would be proud to partake of your pecan peach pie...

As a kid, I was really lucky to grow up in a large, close extended family. My mom's parents lived in the next town over; my dad's parents lived less than ten minutes away in our town. My aunts and uncles were, with a couple of exceptions, all in the Boston area. My parents were each the eldest of their siblings, and they were pretty young when they married and had me, so I had a gift that's pretty rare these days -- four young, relatively healthy, happily involved grandparents with whom I spent time regularly. I had all four grandparents well into my high school years, and only lost my mom's parents in late college/grad school. (We still have my wee grandma, thank god -- 88 years and 88 lbs. of pure dogged determination, that one.)

Anyway, as a result, I have so, so many memories of my grandparents, including this one that makes me chuckle every summer. I was probably 10 or 12 at the time, and my mom had made a late summer peach pie. We brought it over to my grandparents' house to share, and all through dessert, my grandpa couldn't stop proclaiming, "I LOVE peach pie!" He was so effusive that even my grandmother, who has never said an unkind word in her life, was rolling her eyes by the time we were done. I can't eat peach pie without thinking of him, and oh what I would give to hear that exuberant fruit-inspired joy again. I can't though, so once a year-ish, I venture into the terrifying world of pastry (GAH) and make one hell of a peach pie just because.

This year, I was inspired by Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. She posted about a super basic, no frills peach pie, and I was on board after the first photo. Well, sort of. I had some serious agita (we are talking about my Italian grandpa here) about the crust. You see, I SUCK at pie crust. I always over work it, or let it get too warm, and I end up with a tough mess, despite using absurd amounts of butter. My crust is never, ever flaky. I RUIN FLOUR AND BUTTER, YOU GUYS. I have used the frozen stuff before, but it has a distinct Not Good Taste to it. It's a conundrum, no? I talked to one of the chefs at work, and she suggested using booze in place of water when making the crust, because you have the liquid to work with when you're making the dough, but where the booze has alcohol, more of your liquid is going to evaporate in cooking, thereby leaving your pastry flakier. This sounds like a very plausible theory, and I was all set to try it (um, hello -- peach pie in a smoky bourbon crust?).


I can't remember who suggested it, but I would like to kiss their face. Trader Joe's! They make frozen crust, and it is DELIGHTFUL. Flaky, lightly sweet, almost reminiscent of a shortbread flavor in the best of buttery ways, and 100% lacking in the Not Good Taste. I still need to figure out pie crust for myself (Grandma's dogged determination lives on!), but in the meantime? Man, is this good.

Here's what I did:

1.) I bought some lovely smelling, but not quite ripe, peaches and stuck them in a brown paper bag for two days. They were perfect and ready to bake with after that. I used seven, which was fine, but next time I would use a few more.
2.) I peeled the peaches by hand, because I have never trusted the "drop in boiling water" method. Do not as I did; I tried the boiling water method with tomatoes, and HOO BOY, is that easier. Regardless, peel your peaches, slice them thinly, and give them a nice squirt of lemon.
3.) Add the rest of the filling ingredients. I used 1/4 c white sugar, 1/3 c brown sugar, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon (nutmeg is an abomination), 1/8 tsp table salt, and cornstarch to thicken. For the cornstarch, I started with 2 tbsps, and kept adding until it felt right. I think I ended up between 3-4 tbsps total.
4.) Once the filling was ready to go, I placed the defrosted crust into my pie plate, pricking the bottom for no reason other than it's what I remember my mom doing. I have no idea if this is actually necessary. I scooped the filling in and flopped the other piece of crust on top, looping the top crust around the edge of the bottom and squeezing them together. I cut little slits in the top of the crust, then gave it a swipe of cream I had in the fridge. The final touch was a sprinkling of turbinado sugar. It did not look so hot at this point...
5.) I set the oven to 425 (although it desperately needs to be calibrated, so who the hell knows what it actually baked at), popped the pie on a foil lined sheet, and into the oven it went for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, I dropped the temperature to 375 (or whatever my oven considers 375 to be) and covered the edges with foil to keep them from getting too brown. It baked for another 30 minutes, at which point I removed the foil edge wrappers, and let it brown up for another 10 minutes or so. I called it done once it was all golden and gorgeous looking.

I probably should have held off a bit longer before digging in, but I simply do not possess that kind of willpower. I knew it was going to be a big puddle of mess, but I went for it anyway, and OH. MY. GOD. Even Mark, who claimed to dislike pie (I know, right? INSANITY ABOUNDS), is a convert. After inhaling a healthy slice worth right from the pan, he was all, "Huh, I guess I like pie!" You think?



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