Perfecting the peach pie
August 29, 2008
For the past couple of years, I’ve been living a life between the towns of Fraser and Glenwood Springs. Aside from occasionally being confused as I wander in the middle of the night ” I must remember to turn right if in one town, left if in the other ” it has been an interesting adventure.
Glenwood Springs promised warmer winter temperatures, but failed to produce with its record snowfalls this past winter. And it cannot compete with our air-conditioned summers here in the Fraser Valley.
What it has that we don’t, because of our climate, is an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables ” squash, okra, Olathe corn and field ripened tomatoes. It’s heavenly. And cherries, apples, plums, pears and peaches are plentiful.
My husband and I stripped the cherries off his co-workers trees. What a delightful afternoon of eating and picking. For me, it was eat two, put three in the basket, and so on. We have a freezer full of pie cherries and sweet Bings.
Wait, did I say peaches, my all-time favorite fruit? Yes, indeed. They arrive at the farmers market in August and continue into September from organic orchards in Paonia and Palisade brought in by old man DeVries and the ever-present Forte clan. And the peaches are so incredibly delicious.
I’m contemplating a trip to Palisade to buy a box of my favorite peach variety – the Elberta. This ancient peach is full, lush and delicate – it doesn’t travel well, so it’s appearance at markets is rare. But it is the one peach worth driving for, even with high gasoline prices.
Those of you who, like me, have a soft spot for peaches in their minds and hearts might want to read the excellent treatise by California peach farmer and writer David Mas Masumoto, “Epitaph for a Peach.” He wrote the book as a means to supplement his farm income and currently is selling shares of ownership in the trees as yet another way to creatively keep his head above rising production costs.
Of his Sun Crest peaches he wrote, “They taste like a peach is supposed to. As with many older varieties, the flesh is so juicy that it oozes down your chin. The nectar explodes in your mouth and the fragrance enchants your nose, a natural perfume that can never be captured.”
What he said – that’s what I’m saying. And I know I’m not alone.
Singer and songwriter Steve Miller waxes rhapsodic with his lyrics, “I really love your peaches, want to shake your tree.” Not the same kind of peaches, but he nails the emotion.
One of my favorite peach recipes comes from author and screenwriter Nora Ephron whose upcoming film “Julie on Julia” will put on screen the year long saga of Julie Powell’s heroic effort to cook her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Meryl Streep is set to play Ms. Child. I can’t wait…but I digress.
It’s Ephron’s funny, acerbic 1983 bestselling novel “Heartburn,” (and movie by the same name) from whence the peach pie recipe wafts.
The absolute key to success of this recipe is oven temperature…it must be accurate or your pie will not set properly. But if you don’t have success, you can always drink your mistake! Ephron calls it Peach Pie, but I call it Peaches and Cream Pie for obvious reasons.
The recipe makes its appearance in “Heartburn” in this manner, “and Julie and I spent a week perfecting peach pie. We made ordinary peach pie, and deep-dish peach pie, and blueberry and peach pie, but here is the best peach pie we made:
Put 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup butter and 2 tablespoons sour cream into a Cuisinart and blend until they form a ball. Pat out into a buttered pie tin, and bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees.
Beat 3 egg yolks slightly and combine with 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons flour and 1/3 cup sour cream. Pour over 3 peeled, sliced peaches arranged in the crust. Cover with foil. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees and bake 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes more, or until the filling is set.”
She goes on to say, “I keep thinking about that week in West Virginia. It was a perfect week. We swam in the river and barbequed ribs and made Bellinis with crushed peaches and cheap champagne.”
And thus she reminds us of yet another way to enjoy the tender juicy flesh – simply crush and add champagne…
What she said – that’s what I’m saying. And I know I’m not alone.
To adjust the filling for high altitude: increase to 4 egg yolks, decrease to 3/4 cup sugar, increase to 1 1/2 cups flour, and add one more tablespoon of sour cream. I have put as many as 5 peaches, depending on their size, in the crust before adding the filling. I use a 9-inch pie pan.
Contact Susan Stone, The Highland Foodie, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-531-1952 for clarifications or with comments or suggestions for future articles (or for more peach recipes)!
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