On Monday, I shared a peach pie recipe collection that was inspired by my friend Zach (remember meeting him over merit badges & s’mores?!). Zach and I have been friends for over a decade and I’m forever thinking of new reasons why he’s even more amazing. For instance, the recipe collection was inspired by the fact that he had just baked his Mom a gluten-free Peach Pie!! Adorable to the Max!
Speaking of adorable: meet Zach!! Serendipitously, I found a picture of the two of us attending a pie social in Brooklyn in September of 2012. The pie pictured is not one he baked, but I remember it being delicious. So apropos, right?!
Here’s another reason I love Zach: a few of you left comments that you would like Zach’s recipe. I quickly emailed to see if he’d be interested in sharing and he wrote back, “I’d love to write a blog for you!” Reason #8,672 why I love him! And he wrote a blog with 2 recipes: a pie crust and peach filling (reason #8,673)!!
Reason #8,674 that I love him: he also gave the gluten & dairy free alternative recipes, as well!
Without further ado: Zach’s Pie Crust & Peach Filling (in his own words, obviously):
I love pie. It is one of those versatile desserts, as it can accommodate almost any dietary restriction while still being delicious. It is so versatile that it can even become a main course (Chicken Pot Pie or Quiche anyone?). The trouble with pie is that many people struggle to make a great crust, which is the literal and metaphoric base of the pie. Without a solid crust, the pie just isn’t worth eating no matter how yummy the filling is. And for those of you out there that just go to the store and buy a frozen crust, please stop! Those are not pie crusts, as they usually contain no butter and are not flakey at all. I am going to teach you how to make a butter and shortening crust (complete with dairy free and gluten free alternatives that are still surprisingly delicious).
There are a few tricks that I have picked up while failing to make pie crusts when I first started. I will share these with you so that you can avoid the embarrassment of promising a pie and showing up with a crumble when your pie crust fails miserably.
The first trick is that you need to take the amount of ice water in a recipe as a suggestion. The only real way to tell if you have enough water is that the pie dough can come together nicely into a ball. It should still look like it will crumble a little bit, but it should not fall apart. You also do not want to add so much water that the dough becomes gummy because it will lose the light flaky texture that you are looking for.
Next, you should use recipes that call for both butter and shortening. Shortening makes dough much easier to work with, but does not add a lot of flavour or texture. Butter, which should always be used cold, is difficult to work with, but makes for a much better tasting crust. Using both gives you the best of both worlds – a crust that tastes and looks great and was relatively easy to make.
This is my favourite trick: Roll the dough between two pieces of floured wax paper. I started doing this when working with a gluten free crust because the gluten free flour does not stick together as nicely, but now I do it will all of my crusts. The dough is much easier to roll out and you have the wax paper as a tool to help you move the rolled dough into your pie pan – amazing!
Also, if your recipe calls for a blind bake (baking the crust before you fill it) – don’t bother buying expensive pie weights. Just use some dry beans. They cost way less and will last you for years of pie making.
Now, onto the recipe:
This recipe makes enough dough for a covered pie. If you only want a base, you can freeze the second half of the dough for a later use.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (for gluten free – use Bob’s Redmill gluten free flour and just under 1/2 tsp xanthan gum – both can be found in a health food store or the health food section of a larger grocery store)
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar (replace with the fresh herb of your choice for a savoury pie e.g. rosemary or thyme)
In a food processor add:
The flour mixture
3/4 cup COLD shortening (frozen is best) in small pieces
3 tbsp unsalted COLD butter in small pieces (if you are cooking dairy free – use Earth Balance vegan butter – this is the only product I have found that actually tastes and bakes like real butter – avoid margarine, as it is gross).
Pulse the food processor until the flour resembles coarse sand – do not over mix as this will warm the butter. You need the butter to stay cold and in small pieces because the pockets of butter are what make the pie crust flaky.
Once the mixture is coarse add:
6 tbsp ice water
Pulse the processor until the water is mixed in. The dough should hold together at this point. If it does not come together easily, add:
1/2 tbsp ice water
Pulse again. If the dough still does not come together, repeat the previous step. I have had to add between 1 and 3 tbsp of water in the past. It depends on humidity in your kitchen or how the pie gods are feeling that day. Don’t stress if you need to add a bit more, but also do not go crazy. If the dough becomes gummy looking, you have gone too far.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Put the dough in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour to get cold again before rolling out and then follow your favourite pie recipe.
I hear that some of you want the full Peach Pie treatment from one of Stacey’s previous blogs. So here is what to do with this amazing pie crust to make a stellar peach pie:
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Roll out half of the pie dough from the fridge and line a 9 inch pie pan
Peel and pit
2 1/2 lbs fresh peaches and cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch (you can use flour, but I find this makes for the best filling texture)
3 tbsp FRESH lemon juice (the bottles stuff does not taste as good)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. This will let the juices flow and create a nice base for the filling. You need to mix so that the corn starch combines with the peach juice.
Fill the rolled pie crust with the peach filling. Dot a few pieces of butter (about 2 – 3 tbsp) around the top of the filling.
Roll out the second half of the pie crust and cover the pie. Pinch the ends to seal the pie and use a knife around the outside of the pie crust to remove excess crust. Cut a few decorative vents in the middle of the pie – this is more than just esthetics. The pie will explode if you do not let air out and that is a crazy mess.
Beat 1 egg and paint it onto the top of the crust and then sprinkle a few tsp of sugar on top (for browning purposes)
Put the pie pan on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to avoid a dripping mess (which will also burn on the bottom of your oven and set off the smoke detector).
Here is the trick for baking any pie where you have a raw crust and raw filling: Bake at 425 for 30 minutes (this will set the crust) and then turn the oven down with the pie still in the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes at 350 (this will cook the filling fully). The pie is only finished cooking when the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling. If the filly is not bubbling, it is still raw! Also, you may find that your pie crust is browning too fast. If it is already brown when you turn down the oven, cover it in aluminum foil to avoid burning.
Now enjoy your fresh summer pie!
Also, you may want to add that this is adapted from the Joy of Cooking. It is a different recipe now, but the base of the recipe came from there (with additions from my head).
Stacey here: Love, Zach!! Obviously, I love him lots! And I want to thank him for sharing his recipes and all those tips!! I think he’s masterful in the kitchen. And I so appreciate a non-blogger taking the time to write out a blog for my readers.
And you? What pie making tips do you have to share? Do you also have a friend that you keep finding new reasons to adore?
Until next time!