Pie dough is one of the most malleable, flexible, and versatile mediums to work with. My only beef with pie dough is that, in my experience, really good pie dough requires shortening. On principle, I do not bake with shortening (the principle being I think it is a poor, gross substitute for butter). But all rules are made to be broken, and in conjunction with butter, shortening helps to create an unparalleled light and flaky crust. So, I urge you to compromise your principles (as I have) and give the people what they want - a delightful crust, courtesy of shortening. A true "guilty" pleasure.
A pie is only as good as its filling and its crust. A bad filling can destroy a good pie crust and vice versa. For this reason, I try to buy seasonally fresh, local fruit for pie fillings. This time of year, happens to be perfect for one of my favorites - peaches! Peaches are a wonderful fruit to bake with: they hold up well to heat, play well with a variety of spices, liqueurs, and other fruits, and have an unbeatable stand alone flavor.
Having recently discovered Maryland grown peaches (who knew?), I decided to put the peach on its rightful pedestal (with only a little help from bourbon). And so I present to you all...
Classic Peach Pie with Bourbon Cream
(makes two pie crusts)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup shortening
7-9 (or more) tablespoons ice cold water
*Pie dough must to be chilled before use, so I suggest making it the day before or at least a few hours ahead of the rest of the recipe.
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut the butter and shortening into small cubes (approximately pea-sized) and stir into flour mixture.
- Continue breaking up the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly and generally homogeneous. Keep a few larger chunks of butter/shortening for pockets of flakiness throughout the crust.
- Incorporating 2 tablespoons at a time, add the (literally ice cold) water to the flour and butter/shortening mixture using your hands or a wooden spoon. Continue adding water and stirring along the walls of the mixing bowl until a dough forms. Be wary of adding too much liquid.
- Split the dough into two equal pieces, store in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Be sure to flatten the ball before placing in the refrigerator so that the dough chills evenly.
8 medium-sized, ripe peaches
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a dash of nutmeg
- Wash, dry, and slice evenly all 8 peaches; place the slices into a large mixing bowl.
- Toss the peaches in the lemon juice, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.
- Set aside or in the refrigerator.
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
- Whisk together heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in a small mixing bowl.
- Slowly incorporate bourbon into the mixture and continue whisking until the cream begins to thicken.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
- In a small bowl, beat together egg and milk.
- Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9" pie pan.
- When the pie dough has been thoroughly chilled, remove one piece from the refrigerator and place on a well-floured surface.
- Roll the dough out until it is approximately a 10-11" circle.
- Fold the dough in half twice so that it is 1/4 of its original size.
- Position the corner of the piece in the middle of the pie pan, and unfold the dough so that it is positioned perfectly in the pie pan.
- Gently press the dough into the sides of the pan.
- Evenly pour the peach filling into the bottom crust.
- Remove the second piece of pie dough from the refrigerator and place on a well-floured surface.
- Repeat steps 3 through 5.
- Press along the sides of the pan to release extra pie dough and seal the edges with a fork or by fluting them.
- Using a paring knife, carefully slice into the top crust to create "vents." I usually do about three or four.
- With a pastry brush, brush a small amount of egg wash on the top crust of the pie. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of sugar on the top crust.
- Place the pie in the middle rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is browned and fully cooked.*
- Serve warm with bourbon cream poured over each piece of pie.
*I would suggest placing a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch dripping fruity pie juices.