Sunday, September 9, 2007

Peach Melba Pie

Earlier in the week, my friend Meg and I made plans for Saturday: watching a few episodes of “The Wire” so that I can get caught up before season 5 stars up in January, and baking. I had completely forgotten about the latter half of the plan until she reminded me on Saturday morning while we were running errands. She suggested an apple pie, which I couldn’t bring myself to bake given that it was sunny and 95 degrees outside – definitely not autumn weather. Apple pie turned into peach pie at my suggestion, but Meg wanted Peach Melba, and so the Peach Melba Pie was born.

Peach Melba Pie
(makes one 9-inch pie)
For the crust:
½ cup almond flour or finely-ground blanched almonds** (see note in recipe)
2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
4-6 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
3 pounds ripe peaches
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch


Pastry dough
Chill a large metal mixing bowl in the freezer.  Cut the butter into ½” cubes and chill in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
[** Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add a scant ½ cup of almonds and blanch for about 1 minute – the almonds will float to the top.

Drain the almonds and transfer to a bowl of cold water.  Remove the skins from the almonds by squeezing them at one end and popping out the almonds.
Dry the almonds well on paper towels. Lightly toast on a lined baking sheet for 5-7 minutes at 350° F, or, alternately, arrange on a single layer on top of a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate and heat on high power for 2 minutes, shaking every 30 seconds.

Finely grind the almonds in a spice grinder or food processor, being careful not to overprocess.]
In the chilled mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, salt, and sugar. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal and there are pea-sized lumps of butter.

Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of water around the mixture and gently blend with a fork. Gather a small amount of the dough in your hand – it should hold together but still be slightly crumbly. If it does not, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until it does so.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it into four portions. With the heel of your hand, smear each portion forward two times to distribute the butter – you should still see some chunks of butter in the dough (this is what makes for a light and flaky crust). Gather two pieces together and slightly flatten to form two disks.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The pastry dough can be made a few days ahead.)

Filling and pie
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.  Cut an X in the bottom of each peach (this is done so that you can easily peel the peaches).
Using a slotted spoon, drop the peaches into the boiling water and blanch for about a minute so that the skins loosen.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to the bowl of ice water. When the peaches are cool, peel the skins off, starting at the bottom where the X is.

Remove the two pieces of dough from the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes so that they are easier to roll out.

Depending on their size, cut each peach into 8 -10 slices. In a large non-reactive bowl, toss the peaches with the raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Let the fruit sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400° F.

Roll one disk of dough into a 12-inch circle about 1/8” thick and transfer to a 9” glass or ceramic pie plate, making sure there is an overhang of about 1”.

[I do this using the following method that makes working with and transferring the dough to a pie plate very easy:
Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place one disk of dough on it. Cover the disk with another piece of plastic wrap. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle about 1/8” thick.

Remove the top layer of plastic wrap. Pick up the bottom layer of plastic wrap with the rolled-out dough on it and flip it over into the pie plate. Press the dough into the plate and then peel off the plastic wrap.]
Pour the fruit filling into the pie plate and top with the second crust that has been rolled out as above. Trim the overhang and crimp the crust or press the edges with the tines of a fork.

Cut a few slits or decorative cut-outs into the top crust – this will allow steam to escape and keeps the crust crisp. Place the pie on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil – some of the juices from the pie will bubble over during baking, so doing this prevents them from ending up on the oven floor or crusted onto the baking sheet.

Bake at 400° F for 30 minutes. Remove the pie (still on the baking sheet) from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375° F. Wrap the edges of the crust with a pie shield of a strip of aluminum foil to prevent the edges from burning. Return the pie to the oven and bake for another 45 minutes to 1 hour; the crust should be golden brown.

Let the pie cool at room temperature for at least one hour. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.


marye said...

That looks incredible all the pictures

Colleen said...

Woah! You work hard for delicious dessert. Nice Fiestaware. (It is, right?)

r k said...

No idea - it's my friend Meg's plate (pie was made at her apt and served there).

johnny dollar said...

mmm that's some great pienography :D

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