Talk to anyone over 50, and they will likely tell you (depending on where they were raised) that “neighbors” aren’t what they used to be. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, my mother and father knew their neighbors because they were all part of a community. These days, you could live in a house or apartment for years and never meet the guy who lives next door. Though many people in this day and age might be suspicious of edible gifts from a stranger, I challenge you to make one of the mostly neighborly gestures possible: bake them a home-made peach pie!
NOTE: If your neighbors are less than receptive, you can always bake YOURSELF a housewarming pie to fill your new apartment with the warm smells of home!
At the Culinary Institute of America, especially in the realm of bakers, we often used standard ratios of ingredients to yield a consistent product. One of the most basic, easy-to-make, and easy to remember ratios is the 3-2-1 pie dough recipe. Using this ratio (3 parts flour, 2 parts cold butter butter, 1 part cold water by weight) you could make 5 pies, or 50! This recipe is enough for one pie and is converted into approximate volume measurements for the home kitchen. You could also double/triple the recipe and freeze the dough for another time! Just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Equipment: 9” foil pie tin, large mixing bowl, rolling pin (a clean wine bottle will do), whisk, pastry brush (a 1” wide, unused paint brush will do).
Basic Pie Dough
Yields 1 pie crust
-2 and 1/4 cups, All Purpose Flour
-3/4 cups chilled butter, cut into 1.5” cubes
-3 and 1/4 fl.oz, cold water
-1 tsp salt
This recipe is easiest with a “kitchen-aid” style mixer, but since those aren’t exactly common household appliances in most first-time apartments at $300 a piece, we will make the dough by hand.
Step 1: Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk briefly for even distribution.
Step 2: Add the chilled cubes of butter to the flour. This method of dough making is called the “cut-in” method, and that is exactly what you do. Ideally you would use what we called a dough cutter (a blunt, metal scraper with a plastic handle), but you can use your hands too, or you can “cross-cut” using two knives.
You want to work the butter into the flour without fully breaking it down. If the butter starts to get soft (no longer cold), put the whole bowl the the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. This “cutting-in” step is very important for a flaky crust. Combine, or “cut” the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are around the size of a large pea, garbanzo bean, or a hazelnut.
Step 3: Add the cold water all at once and mix by hand or with sturdy spoon until the dough just comes together. Chunks of butter should still be very visible!
Step 4: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, form it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and but it in the refrigerator to chill while you make your filling.
NOTE: The chunks of butter are important because of their mechanical leavening power. When the dough bakes, the chunks of butter melt, creating steam which makes the crust flaky and light. Don’t over-work the butter or you will have a dense, mealy pie dough.
Peach Pie Filling
Yields filling for 1 pie
Pre-heat oven to 375 F
-1/2 cup, Sugar
-2 Tbsp, Tapioca starch
-1/2 tsp, Salt
-1/2 tsp, Ground ginger
-1 Tbsp, Lemon Juice
-2 Tbsp, Melted Butter
-1 and 1/2 pounds ripe peaches, washed, pitted, and sliced into wedges.
-Egg wash (1 whole egg whisked with a splash of water or cream and a pinch of salt), as needed
Step 1: Divide the chilled dough in half and roll to one half to 1/8” thick and lay it in the foil pie tin so there is a 1/2” overhang. Re-wrap the rest of the dough and refrigerate.
Step 2: Combine all of the ingredients except the egg wash and toss to evenly coat the peach.
Step 3: Fill the dough-lined pie tin with the peach mixture and brush the rim of the dough with egg wash.
Step 4: Roll out the other half of the dough to 1/8” thickness and lay in on top of the peach filling, crimping the edges to firmly attached the top dough to the bottom layer. After crimping, trim any excess overhang so that the crust doesn’t droop or tear while baking. Cut a vent in the pie (a vertical, 3” slash or a 3/4” whole in the center works fine).
Step 5: Bake the pie at 375 F on a tray (to avoid a sticky burned mess in your oven) for around 45 minutes or until the fillings is bubbling and the crust is golden-brown (don’t be afraid of color on the crust! The browning of the flour and dairy proteins lend essential flavor to the finished product). Think of the color of a standard cork board…
Step 6: Enjoy the pie warm or let it cool to room temperature. Serve right from the tin!
After the peach season is over, you can use the same pie dough for an apple pie.
Recipes adapted from: Mastering the Art and Craft of Baking and Pastry. Published by the Culinary Institute of America.