Peaches are in all over Billings. A local hardware store advertised fruits and vegetables in bulk this weekend for canning, just in time for those who don’t plant gardens or to supplement garden bounty that perhaps wasn’t as bountiful as they’d hoped. Oh, by the way, this hardware store sells canning supplies of all types and sizes. Even late into the season. Last year when I needed to can pepper jelly in October using a bucketful of jalapenos from my garden, other outlets replaced their canning stock with Christmas decorations. But my trusty hardware store had everything I needed.
Twenty bucks for twenty pounds. Since I don’t have peach trees, that sounded like a deal to me. And I was hungry for pie. I love pie – it is my favorite dessert. I don’t make pie as often as I should opting for desserts that, in my mind, are less labor intensive, But every time I do, I think what’s the big deal. This isn’t so hard, especially this recipe for peach crumble pie. You don’t even have to peel the fruit. That’s right – no blanching, no little globes of goodness flying out of your hand just as you’re ready to split the fruit to pit it, no sweet, sugary juice running down your elbow. And what could be easier than a delicious, sweet, crunchy crumble topping? OK – I’m game.
This is such a terrific pie. The filling is slightly sweet. I imagine you could add more sugar (the original calls for only two tablespoons of light brown sugar), but my hubby and I decided the fruit tasted fantastic just the way it was. Your pie filling will also come out darker, because the peaches retain their skin.
First, let’s make the crust. This is my mother’s recipe for pie crust. Hers was always tender and flaky. I’ve tried others, including pate brisee with butter in the food processor. But I have a tendency to over-whir things, so I gave this up. I don’t add vinegar or egg yolk or baking powder. It’s a great crust recipe. My mother used it for sweet as well as savory pies. Just leave out the sugar for a savory pie – well, that’s logical, huh? Mom made a killer hamburger hash pie, with ground meat, onions, carrots and potatoes, but that’s another episode.
Put 1 1/2 cups of unbleached flour into a wide mixing bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar, and one-half teaspoonful of salt. Whisk the dry ingredients together until combined. Add 3/4 cup of shortening (one-half cup for each cup of flour), and cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, until it begins to look like small peas – whatever that means; here’s a picture. Mine never looks like “small peas.”
Please Note: Actually, before I get to this point, I fill a one-cup glass measure with ice and cold water and put it in the refrigerator. I’ve even been known to put the shortening in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to make sure it’s good and cold – remember well-chilled butter? Well, it’s my version.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the ice water over the flour/shortening mix, and stir with a fork until the crust dough begins to come together. Really, a fork is the best tool for this process. If the dough is too dry, you can add another 1-2 teaspoons of water, but keep an eye on it, you don’t want the crust too wet. Try not to over mix the dough. Over mixing causes the crust to become tough. You want to be able to see little pieces of shortening throughout the dough.
Dump the crust onto a well-floured surface. Pat and shape into a circle.
Wrap the crust in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. OK – I know this looks like a lot of steps, but really, Mom used to whip this out in 15 minutes. She didn’t chill anything. All Mom knew was it was Sunday morning and Dad was going to want an early supper with dessert.
Step Two: The Filling
Rinse off 3 pounds of fresh peaches. Cut the fruit in half, remove the pit, and slice the peaches – skins and all – about the size you would for apple pie, into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 half teaspoon almond extract, and a pinch of salt. Mix it all together with a spoon, but I just used my hands, until all the fruit is well coated. Set aside while you make the crumble.
Step Three: Make the Crumble
In the bowl of a food processor, add 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of regular rolled oats. (If you only have quick cooking oats, just use those. After all, Ina does.) Add one teaspoon cinnamon, 6 tablespoons very cold butter cut into pieces, and a pinch of salt. Whir in pulses until blended, and the crumble begins to look like, well crumble.
Preheat your oven to 375° F.
Now the fun begins! Let’s make pie!!
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a very well-floured surface, roll out the pastry crust into a 12″ circle. Don’t be afraid to use more flour than you think you need. I usually do a preliminary roll, then flip the dough over, and flour that side. If your crust sticks to the surface once you’ve finished rolling, don’t despair. Just take an offset spatula, and run it under the crust to release it. Fold the crust in half, or roll it onto your rolling pin, and quickly place the crust into a pie pan. I used a good, old-fashioned Pyrex deep dish pie plate I’ve had for over 30 years. Next, fold over the top of the crust to form a little border, and crimp it into whatever design your little heart desires.
Pour and evenly distribute the peaches and all their lovely, sugary juices into the pie crust. Evenly spread the crumble over the top. I’ve have my fair share of fruit-pie-sticky-juice-oven-spillovers, so I line a sheet pan with foil, and then put the pie on top to bake. Bake at 375° F for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. It’s ready when the filling is bubbling and the crust and topping are browned. Don’t worry if it takes another 15 minutes or so. Let cool completely before serving. Pie goes great with ice cream – hint, hint.
(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.)
- For the Crust:
- 1½ cups unbleached flour
- ¾ cup vegetable shortening, chilled in freezer 15-20 minutes
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons very cold water
- For the Filling:
- 3 pounds of fresh peaches, pitted and sliced, leave skins intact
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- Pinch salt
- For the Crumble
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 6 Tablespoon well-chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- First, make the crust. Whisk together 1½ cups flour with sugar and salt. Add ¾ cup of chilled vegetable shortening. Cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, until the mixture begins to look like small peas. Sprinkle cold water over flour/shortening mixture. Stir together with a fork, until the crust begins to come together, but is still in clumps. Pour the crust onto a well-floured surface. Bring the crust together, patting it into a 6" circle. Cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Second, make the filling. Rinse 3 pounds of peaches. Slice the fruit in half and remove the pits. Slice the peaches into a large mixing bowl. Add the brown, sugar, and salt. Mix with a large spoon or your hands, until all the fruit is well coated. Set the fruit mixture aside.
- Third, make the crumble. Put flour, brown sugar, chilled butter, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10-12 times, or until the crumble begins to form small clumps.
- Assemble the Pie. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator, and roll into a 12" circle. Place the crust into a pie plate. Fold the upper part of the crust over the top of the pie plate forming a thicker border. Crimp the crust.
- Pour the peaches with their juices into the crust, and evenly distribute.
- Sprinkle the crumble of the top of the fruit.
- Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the fruit juices are bubbly, and the crust and crumble are nicely browned - about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Cool completely before serving.