Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Honey Caramel Peach Pie

Summer Honey Caramel Peach Pie
Summer Honey Caramel Peach Pie 
The finished product!
Summer – warm days and nights, fresh fruit – all kinds – but especially peaches. There is nothing like it. I could not wait for the peaches to come in season and then could not wait to share my favorite peach pie on the blog. Today, I made the most scrumptious peach pie – ever. No kidding. I was listening to the radio – oldies station, they were playing Rickie Nelson and Frankie Avalon. The combination of a warm day, the music and the smell of fresh peaches being cut…reminded me so much of my mother. Seems she made thousands of fruit pies when we were kids.  Likely it was not quite so many pies but the smell of cinnamon, fresh fruit and pie in the oven are wonderful childhood memories. For me, the flavor combination of honey and peaches opens a window of summertime and great love for all of my family – then and now.

I think the honey and caramel addition in this recipe gives it the WOW factor. Any kind of mild honey will work beautifully here. It will cook into a rich caramel, which coats the peaches and deepens their sweetness. Make this pie with local honey and the best peaches you can find. I made this pie with a lattice top – but a traditional top piecrust will work just as well. I will explain both as well as share my recipe for All-Butter Pastry Dough.
  • 4 pounds ripe peaches
  • 4-5 Tb potato starch or 4 Tb pulverized instant tapioca
  • 1½ Tb all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ C plus 1 Tb sugar, divided
  • ¼ C honey
  • 2 Tb water
  • 3 Tb unsalted butter
  • All-butter pastry dough (to follow)
  • 1½ Tb whole milk or cream
Peel 4 pounds of peaches. This can easily be done with a serrated peeler (see pic). If that is not available, cut an X in bottom of each peach, then blanch the peaches in batches in boiling water for 15 seconds.  Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking. Peel peaches and cut into 1-inch thick wedges. Toss peaches using a rubber spatula, gently with 4-5 Tb potato starch or pulverized tapioca, 1½ Tb flour, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, ½ tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp salt in a large bowl. All fruit pies require some sort of thickener to bind the juices released by the fruit; otherwise, the pie would be a soupy mess. There are a wide range of thickeners however different thickeners work best with different types of fruit and styles of pie. For pies in which the fruit breaks down more and thickens the juice, like peach or blueberry, I prefer instant tapioca or potato starch. Both are widely available. Look for potato starch in the kosher section of your grocer. If you use tapioca, for the smoothest texture, pulverize it in a food processor or spice grinder before adding it to the fruit.
Magnificent peaches!
Serrated peeler
Peach wedges
Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degree F. Bring ½ C sugar, ¼ C honey, and 2 Tb water to a boil in a 2-qt heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water (see pic). Boil without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 3 Tb unsalted butter, swirling pan until the butter is melted. Pour all over the fruit and toss gently. The caramel may harden slightly but will melt in the oven.
Washing down the sugar crystals
Boiling caramel to a golden brown
OMG! Caramel plus peaches
Roll out a 1 piece of all-butter pastry dough (keep remaining piece chilled) into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. It is simplest to roll it into a circle by turning the dough a quarter turn every few strokes of the rolling pin – thereby rotating the dough on your board and evenly extending the edges. Once done, loosely roll the dough around the rolling pin, lift and unroll over the pie plate. Lift the dough around the edges and gently press it down into the corners of the pie plate. Leave any dough that overhangs and refrigerate the shell while rolling out the remaining dough.
Pie shell
For the lattice top, roll the dough into a rectangular shape, about 11 x 14 inch, and ¼-inch thick on a piece of well-floured parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Using a pizza cutter, sharp knife and a ruler, cut the dough into 1¼-inch wide strips – you will need 8-10. Separate them slightly and freeze on the baking sheet until very firm, about 15 - 20 minutes. For the traditional top – roll out dough in a similar fashion as the bottom crust- refrigerate until ready to use.

Transfer peach filling to bottom pie shell, mounding it. For lattice top, use the firm chilled strips of dough and lay 4-5 parallel strips about 1-inch apart, over the filling. Weave the remaining 4-5 strips, one at time, over and under the first ones, gently lifting them to facilitate weaving. Once done, trim the overhanging edges of the dough to ½-inch. Press the edges of the bottom crust and lattice strips together and tuck underneath and into the pie dish. Crimp the dough evenly around the edges of the pie.  For the traditional top: loosely roll the top crust around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the filled piecrust bottom. Trim all but ½-inch of the dough overhanging the edge. Press the top and bottom crusts together, tucking underneath, and crimp evenly.

Peach slices in the shell
Creating the you don't have to do this part!!

Brush the top lightly and evenly with 1½ Tb milk, then sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Cut three steam vents in top of traditional piecrust with a paring knife.

Bake pie on hot baking sheet for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375-degree F. Continue to bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes more. Cool pie to room temperature, 3-4 hours, before serving. The Honey Caramel Peach Pie is best stored at room temperature. Refrigeration would turn the crisp crust gummy. It should last up to 2-3 days if wrapped well in aluminum foil.
The final product
I truly hope you will give this pie a try and add the recipe to your repertoire. It is always amazing to me how one bite can conjure a vivid memory. We all have these taste memories; specific flavors that, when we experience them, remind us of a time or place or a person. Close your eyes when you take the first bite.  Feel those peaches melt into you. Sometimes a pie is much more than just a sweet end to a meal.



All-Butter Pastry Dough
  • 2½ C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes (1 C)
  • 1/3 C plus 1-4 Tb ice water
Whisk together 2½ C flour, 2 tsp sugar and ¾ tsp salt in a bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Cut two cubes of unsalted butter into ½-inch cubes and blend into flour mixture with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) just until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps. Drizzle 1/3 C ice water over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough.  If it does not hold together, add more ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until just incorporated, then test again. Do not overwork the dough, or pastry will be tough.
This is how the dough should look before you roll it out
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 portions. With the heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and press into a ball. Divide in half and form into 2 discs. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before rolling out.

1 comment:

  1. With this lovely entry, you join the list of great food writers whose prose ennobles their recipes, instructing us that food is more than the sum of its ingredients--it's also a door to memory, a transforming social experience, a gift of love. Bravo! Thank you Larue...