Oh, what a glorious time of year peach season is.

A ripe, fresh peach is my favorite summertime treat. There are two peach trees growing in our yard, and although they produced a mere three peaches total this year, I am confident that next year will be a glut (notwithstanding frost and squirrels).

Next to eating them out of hand, a sweet, sticky, nostalgic peach pie is my preferred way of enjoying peaches. Top a warm slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, find the Braves on the radio and your summertime Saturday afternoon is all wrapped up.

Rachel Cowan Webb is a freelance food writer in Anniston. Contact her at rcwebb16@gmail.com. Follow her baking adventures on Instagram @homemade.hip.pies.


PEACH PIE FROM SCRATCH

  • For the crust:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into smaller pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4-8 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sugar to taste
  • For the filling:
  • 4 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick wedges
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces butter, cut into smaller pieces

Start with the crust. Combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse the mixture until it becomes coarse and the pieces of butter are the size of peas.

Slowly, one tablespoon at a time, add in the water and tap the pulse button.

Right when the dough comes together and before it gets sticky, stop adding water and turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead it a few times to bring it all together well, then use a knife or bench scraper to divide the dough in half, equally.

Gently round the dough into spheres, wrap them in plastic wrap, then let them chill in the ’fridge for at least an hour.

While the dough is chilling, start the filling. Peeling and slicing all those peaches is going to take a minute and it’s really sticky, but it’s a fun task to do while listening to a podcast or talking on FaceTime.

The more ripe and soft the peaches, the easier the skin will peel off, but also, the more quickly the fruit will break down under heat and turn into mush. Choose peaches that have enough firmness to go through the cooking process with some integrity, but will still shed their skins without too much fuss.

When you’re done preparing the peaches, combine all the filling ingredients except for the butter in a mixing bowl and set it aside, preferably in the refrigerator.

After the dough has cooled, remove the plastic wrap from one half and, on a well-floured surface, roll it out into a circle roughly 14 inches wide and ⅛-inch thick.

If the dough starts to stick to the surface or the rolling pin, use more flour. I use a bench scraper to help lift the dough off the work surface when it sticks.

Turn the dough a quarter turn every so often to help it keep its circular shape. Try to work quickly so the dough stays cold. The warmer it gets, the more the butter melts and the harder it is to manage.

When it’s all rolled out, gently roll it around the rolling pin, then pick it up and lay it into a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. Press the crust into the deep corners of the plate, but be sure not to stretch it or it may tear. Instead, pick up the outer edge and gently shimmy the excess down into the pie plate. When it’s all nicely tucked in, put the plate in the fridge to chill again and bring out the other half of the dough.

This half will be the top crust. Roll out the dough. For this particular pie, I make a lattice crust (see below), but a simple, one-piece top crust is also fine for a peach pie.

At this point, make sure you won’t have any distractions until the glorious moment when the pie goes in the oven. Also, get your oven preheated to 400 degrees, cut up the 2 ounces of butter, and beat the egg for egg wash.

Working quickly, pour the filling into the bottom crust in the pie plate. Be sure to get all the juicy stuff out of the bottom of the bowl! Add the 2 ounces of butter on top of the filling and gently level it so there’s not a mound in the middle.

Put on the top crust, then take a pair of kitchen shears and cut off the excess dough from around the edges of the pie plate, leaving a 1 ½-inch “skirt” of dough. Fold that “skirt” under and, using a fork dipped in egg wash, crimp and seal the edges all the way around. Use a pastry brush to lightly paint the top of the pie in egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar to taste.

Bake the pie at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes to blast the crust to help it hold its shape, then lower the temperature to around 350 degrees and bake for about 45 minutes.

If the edges start to get too brown before the juices start bubbling, put some tin foil over them to keep them from burning.

Let this pie stand for about an hour after baking. It’s better warm or even slightly cool than piping hot. Serve with vanilla ice cream, a cold glass of sweet white wine and a good baseball game.

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