Monday, September 13, 2010

Vanilla Peach #34

Thoughts I have while baking pies:

While I'm putting the pie together:
Really? That much flour? I don't know...hmmm...I think it should be a little more/less.
Ugh, should I follow the recipe as written? Should I put in just a little bit more...?

While the pie is cooking:
Did I put enough flour in? Oh dear, should I have used tapioca flakes? Cornstarch? Ugh, I hate cornstarch, but um maybe I should have used cornstarch...hmmm....

While checking the pie at the end:
Is it bubbling? I wouldn't really call that "thickly bubbling" like the recipe says...but it is bubbling?...hmmm...ten more minutes? ...okay...ten more minutes...

Ten minutes later:
Okay, I see some "thick" bubbles, but why isn't the middle bubbling? hmmm...ten more minutes again???? 

(And on and on and on until I feel like the pie is adequately bubbling and/or the crust won't hold out any longer.)

So I don't want to make a list of the many things I spend time worrying about, but clearly, (from this long train-of-thought account) I'm a big-time worrier about soupy pies. It's probably number two on my list of pie crimes (bad taste being the number one). 

Don't be confused, making pies is not a frustrating activity. I love making crusts, I love cutting fruit,  I love cooking pie, I love the lingering aroma of pie in our apartment, I love sharing pies with people, I love how many people I've met in the last 9 months who LOVE pie and become an insta-friend because of it. I love everything to do with pie...but I admit, there is this looming desperation crowding my thoughts until we reach the crowning moment in any pie's life: when it's finally cut into; the crust breaks; and, hopefully, find out that the filling isn't runny. It's in that moment that all the worrying and work was worth it and, only then, can I let out a sigh of relief.

However, this pie did not result in any such sigh of relief.

It was a mess.

I think I spent too many "ten minutes" worrying about how it hadn't bubbled in the middle, thus cooking it too long (I think a first for me) and making canned peaches in a crust. This--you can imagine--makes it one of the worst pies of the year. 

(Sorry, my dear old roommate and husband who had to suffer through that one.)

It was a bomb and a disgrace to the beautiful peaches that I'd picked from the Farmers Market.
I still have faith that this is a good recipe, though I did not do it justice. So, please, if you do try it, I'd love to hear how it goes for you.
Vanilla Peach Pie
(adapted from Bubby's Pie Book)
All-butter crust recipe (see here)Filling:
1 Vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 pounds peaches, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 lemon, zested and juiced
pinch salt
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom
Tiny pinch ground cloves
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
sugar, for sprinkling on the top crust

Roll out the pastry and line a 9-inch pie tin with the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining dough for the top crust. Rechill the pastry if necessary.

To remove the skin of the peach, first make an 'X' in the base of the peach with a sharp knife so you have a place to start peeling. Gently drop the peach into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, remove from water and plunge the peach into ice water. Once cooled for a minute or two, the skin should easily peel away from the flesh. Slice peaches into 1/2-inch spears and cover with lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 450F

Scrape the fine black seeds from the center of each vanilla bean half by running a knife blade along the cut face of the pod on a cutting board. Be thorough and get all the gummy inside of the vanilla bean on the knife. In a large bowl, combine the vanilla seeds with the peaches, sugar, flour, lemon zest, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Mix the fruit filling lightly, as little as possible, to just get the ingredients dispersed. Scrape the filling into the bottom crust, dot the top of the fruit with the butter, and cover it with the second crust. Trim and crimp the crust; chill the pie for 10 minutes in the freezer. Cut vent slits in the top crust and sprinkle it lightly with sugar.

Bake the pie on a lipped baking sheet for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the crust looks dry, blistered, and blond. Turn the oven down to 375F, and bake 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and visible juices are thickened and bubble slowly through the slits in the top crust.

Cool the pie completely before cutting, at least a few hours. Serve it at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side to enhance the flavor. Store the pie uncovered at room temperature, up to 3 days.

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