Growing up in Toronto you get used to the changing seasons. Part of me always thinks I want to live in a hot climate but I know I would miss the transitions. As much as I like to whine, the first snow of the year is magical. And who doesn’t love that first warm-ish day as winter rolls to a close?
While I love the shifts in the weather, what I really look forward to are the shifts in produce. I’m totally thrilled when fall sets in and I can enjoy local apples and squash. Winter is a bit desolate but that is all forgotten when summer hits. I wait all year for three things; local strawberries, corn and peaches. Ontario does all three so well that I honestly can’t even think of buying imported anymore.
This year’s crop of peaches is particularly delightful. I’m not sure what the deal was with the weather this year but whatever the deal was it created the most perfect peaches. Every peach that I’ve had so far from Niagara has been so sweet and almost “too” peachy. We’re talking the peaches of dreams. After eating a ton as-is knew that I had to whip up some peachy desserts and treats.
The first thing I did was make a batch of one of my favourite jams, Peach Jam with Pinot Noir. It turned out a bit runnier than I’d like so it’s more like a peach syrup than a jam, but it’s still great.
Next on my list was some pie-making. Now, I rarely eat peach pie. My pie of choice is generally apple. I’ve certainly never made a peach pie before. But this year seemed like the year to make a peach pie. I didn’t want to half-ass it either. I wanted to go all out and do the lattice crust. I wanted to make a 1950′s housewife kind of pie (minus lack of civil rights for black folks, inequality for women and no colour tv). But you know what I mean…
Making a peach pie isn’t too complicated. The most annoying part is peeling the peaches. I quickly blanched them and then peeled to make things easier. Also the freestone peaches aren’t around yet so taking out the seed also proved a bit tricky. The recipe isn’t too fancy at all but it is kicked up a notch by the honey caramel. Doesn’t that just sound great? I used a local honey that I picked up from Culinarium a few months ago.
For my first go at peach pie I was impressed. Unfortunately the batteries in my kitchen scale died so I was flying a bit blind. My crust didn’t quite work out the way I expected but it tasted fine. Also, making a lattice crust is pretty tricky! The whole rolling out the thin strips and then doing the basket weave thing is pretty tough. I also made this kind of late in the evening so perhaps my patience wasn’t quite what it should’ve been.
The pie tastes great. Trust me. The caramel flavour isn’t too intense. You get the sweetness with a bit of depth to it but it wasn’t screaming caramel. Not a big deal. I would totally make this again and consider adding in some blueberries or raspberries to the mix. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Honey Caramel Peach Pie
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces (I used lard)
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water
3 pounds ripe peaches
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/4 cup mild honey
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon whole milk
For the Crust:
Add the first 5 ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend. Add butter and shortening/lard and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal. With the machine running add about 4 tablespoons of ice water. If the dough seems dry add more water so that moist clumps form. Take the dough out of the food processor, gather it into a ball and divide into two pieces (one should be a bit larger than the other). Flatten both balls into dish and wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (but no more than 2 days).
For the Pie:
Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 15 seconds you may have to do this in batches). Transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Peel peaches and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges.
Toss peaches with cornstarch, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Bring 1/2 cup sugar, honey, and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly and turns a dark amber colour.
Remove from heat and add butter, and turn the pan until the butter has melted. Toss with the fruit.
Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out remaining dough.
Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Stop here if you don’t want to do a lattice crust otherwise cut the round into 1-inch strips.
Transfer filling to pie shell, mounding it. Cover pie with pastry round or weave strips to form a basketweave. Trim with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together and make a decorative edge. Brush top all over with some of milk, then sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Cut steam vents in top crust if not doing the lattice crust.
Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes more. Cool pie to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours.
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