Fresh Peach Pie

From Cook's Illustrated | September/October 2013

Why this recipe works:

Juicy summer peaches usually produce soupy peach pies. We corralled the moisture that peaches give off during cooking in a number of ways. First, we macerate the peaches to draw out some of their juices and add back to the filling only a specific amount. Second, we use both cornstarch and… read more

Juicy summer peaches usually produce soupy peach pies. We corralled the moisture that peaches give off during cooking in a number of ways. First, we macerate the peaches to draw out some of their juices and add back to the filling only a specific amount. Second, we use both cornstarch and pectin to bind up what remains. Using two thickeners leaves the pie with a clear, silky texture without any of the gumminess or gelatinous texture that larger amounts of either one alone produces. Finally, we use a reliable, delicious lattice crust, the open nature of which lets moisture cook off as the pie bakes.

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Serves 8

If your peaches are too soft to withstand the pressure of a peeler, cut a shallow X in the bottom of the fruit, blanch them in a pot of simmering water for 15 seconds, and then shock them in a bowl of ice water before peeling. For fruit pectin we recommend both Sure-Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes and Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds peaches, peeled, quartered, and pitted, each quarter cut into thirds
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons low- or no-sugar-needed fruit pectin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 recipe Pie Dough for Lattice-Top Pie (see related content)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions

  1. 1. Toss peaches, ½ cup sugar, lemon zest and juice, and salt in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Combine pectin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons sugar in small bowl and set aside.

    2. Remove dough from refrigerator. Before rolling out dough, let it sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Roll 1 disk of dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Transfer to parchment paper–lined baking sheet. With pizza wheel, fluted pastry wheel, or paring knife, cut round into ten 1¼-inch-wide strips. Freeze strips on sheet until firm, about 30 minutes.

    3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll other disk of dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto 9-inch pie plate, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with your hand while pressing into plate bottom with your other hand. Leave any dough that overhangs plate in place. Wrap dough-lined pie plate loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

    4. Meanwhile, transfer 1 cup peach mixture to small bowl and mash with fork until coarse paste forms. Drain remaining peach mixture through colander set in large bowl. Transfer peach juice to liquid measuring cup (you should have about ½ cup liquid; if liquid measures more than ½ cup, discard remainder). Return peach pieces to bowl and toss with cornstarch. Transfer peach juice to 12-inch skillet, add pectin mixture, and whisk until combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and pectin is dissolved (liquid should become less cloudy), 3 to 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, add peach pieces and peach paste, and toss to combine.

    5. Transfer peach mixture to dough-lined pie plate. Remove dough strips from freezer; if too stiff to be workable, let stand at room temperature until malleable and softened slightly but still very cold. Lay 2 longest strips across center of pie perpendicular to each other. Using 4 shortest strips, lay 2 strips across pie parallel to 1 center strip and 2 strips parallel to other center strip, near edges of pie; you should have 6 strips in place. Using remaining 4 strips, lay each one across pie parallel and equidistant from center and edge strips. If dough becomes too soft to work with, refrigerate pie and dough strips until dough firms up.

    6. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Press edges of bottom crust and lattice strips together and fold under. Folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie using your fingers. Using spray bottle, evenly mist lattice with water and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

    7. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is set and begins to brown, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly at center, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Let cool on wire rack for 3 hours before serving.

Secrets to a Filling that isn’t Soupy and Tastes Just Peachy

1. LIMIT JUICE: Macerating large chunks of peaches and reserving the resulting juice allows us to add only as much liquid as the filling can handle—no more.

2. ADD PECTIN (AND CORNSTARCH): A combination of pectin and cornstarch keeps the filling smooth, clear, and moist without being soupy.

3. MAKE A STICKY MASH: A bit of mashed-up peaches added to the filling acts like glue, preventing any peach chunks from falling out of a slice.

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