Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Easy As Pie

Writing a food blog for five years without using a cliché is simply not possible. Or, at least, not possible for me. I can avoid most of the pitfalls but sometimes the oldest, most hackneyed way of describing something is the best. There's a reason why they become clichés, after all - it's because they are so darn apt!

So it was with this fresh peach pie I made with the first of this year's crop of peaches from our little tree. 

This year has not been what I'd call ideal for our peaches. Our tree has some shriveling leaves that I suspect are the dreaded Peach Leaf Curl. Plus, the weather was rainy while the flowers were wide open and making kissy noises at the bees who were too wet and too cranky to accept their blandishments. And it has been breezy as all get out in our little cove, where the circling winds toss the branches so hard that some of the peaches have skid marks from hitting the side of the house, or grazing each other. The resulting crop has been meager but the few that remain are real troopers.

Each year, I look over the edge of the balcony to see if the fruit is ripe on the tree down below - they turn a vibrant pinkish-red on the sunny side and bright yellow underneath when they are nearly ready.  This year when I checked there were already one or two on the ground, so I scrambled down the hill with a canvas bag to pick as many as I could before the thrashing branches launched them on down the hill. When peaches are perfectly ripe, they literally drop into your hand - no pulling, twisting or tugging is needed. If you have to pull, it's not ripe yet. When they are ready, you just wrap your fingers gently around the fruit and the slightest pressure drops it into your palm.

Thirty seconds in boiling water loosens the skins so they peel easily. They are easy to slice, as my tree makes freestone peaches, and so ripe that the juice runs down the knife onto my hands. A little shake of sugar to sweeten, as these are old fashioned and not terribly sweet. A dash of cinnamon (not much!) and a fresh grating of nutmeg, mix and let stand for a few minutes while you roll out the crust.  

I made this one with a single crust into a croustade, the easiest possible pie. Pour the fruit into the center of the crust that you have rolled out and placed on parchment paper on a baking sheet, fold up the sides, seal any holes in the pastry and, magically, you have a pie. It may be a little "rustic," a polite way to say messy, but it will taste wonderful anyway. 

You can brush the crust with an egg wash if you want but I say it's a waste of a perfectly good egg. Just let the oven brown it for you. If you like that shine, once the pie is cool, you can dip a brush into the juicy interior and paint it onto the crust, but I'll warn you that you must eat the croustade quickly if you do that as the pastry will get soggy fast - but it does look pretty.

I baked this one for about 30 minutes at 425 degrees, cooled it on the baking sheet before moving it to a serving plate and cutting slices. 

This is where the cliché leaps to mind - it was easy as pie.


Blogger Greg said...

Nice!! Ripe peaches are the best.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

You're a peach of a girl, Zoom.

Our pear tree is also stricken this year. Lotta bugs and terribly early fruit. Enjoy what you can, as we do.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I don't know which was more delightful- reading about your peaches or imagining a nice big bite of that pie. Peachy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, they are. I don't have many to share this year - perhaps next year I can save you some.

Cookiecrumb, gotta love what Nature sends, even if it's a little meager. Still tastes better than even stuff from the farmer's market.

Nancy, you could make one with only about two peaches, perfect for one - or invite a friend over and share.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012  

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