August 5, 2009

Peach Party: Crème fraîche peach pie.

I ended up with ten pounds of peaches this weekend. They were cheap, fresh, and smelled absolutely amazing. I got them home and started digging for something to make. Without thinking too hard, I decided that a peach pie was a must. I have made many a peach pie, all the same recipe, and while they were always good, I really wanted to try something different. I flipped through my cookbooks and recipes, but was not finding what I wanted. When I remembered that, during a recent crème fraîche project, I had stumbled on this recipe in a back issue of Martha Stewart Living (I know, I know - it was not mine) and decided that it was right, if slightly modified.


Cme Fraîche Peach Pie:

Pie crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour.
1 cold stick of butter, cubed.
2 tablespoons sugar.
1 egg yolk.
ice water.
salt (optional).


1/2 cold stick of butter.
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
1 teaspoon cinnamon.


4 to 5 medium peaches.
2 tablespoons sugar.
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour.

Be sure you have made your crème fraîche a couple days in advance. There is no substitute for time on this step.

Start by preparing your pie crust. You will need ice water, so fill a small bowl with ice cubes and add water. Set it aside. Now, in a large bowl, sift together the flour and sugar. If you are using unsalted butter, I recommend adding a pinch of salt now.
Cut in your cold butter. You can use a pastry blender - but a fork works just as well. Work it evenly, but stop when the meal becomes coarse - you do not want to over-blend your dough. Add the yolk and mix until just distributed. Next, add the ice water, starting with just two tablespoons worth. I only needed the two tablespoons, but you might need more - just be sure to add them one at a time.
At this point I begin working the dough by hand in the bowl. Begin gathering the dough in the middle of the bowl. Once the dough begins to hold up, turn it out on your work surface, form it into a ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate it for at least one hour and no more than a couple days.

Now, the streusel. In a medium bowl, sift together the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mix resembles course crumbs. Set them aside. You can make the streusel at the same time as you are preparing the dough - just cover with plastic and refrigerate.

After the dough has chilled, prepare a floured work surface and roll it out. Often recipes specify a thickness (1/8 inch thick, for example), but this inevitably leads to dough waste. Instead, have your pie plate on hand and roll until it is about an inch and half larger in diameter (slightly more than 12 inches in diameter for a normal pie plate). Transfer to the plate and fold the excess around the rim under and crimp as you see fit. I fancy the more rustic and uneven look myself.


Depending on how you feel about par-baking your crust, you could do that now. I admit I do it sometimes, but for this pie, I skipped it. Tune your oven to 375˚ for pre-heating.


Next, prepare the peaches. Thoroughly wash your peaches - especially if they are store bought. Slice them into eighths, discarding the pits and stems along the way. Place the slices in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the sugar, flour, and a pinch of salt. Toss ever so gently to distribute the goodness. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.


Time for assembly. Spread enough crème fraîche in the bottom of the pie crust to form a nice layer, about three tablespoons worth. Sprinkle with about one-third of your streusel crumbs. Fan out your peaches, filling any gaps in the pattern with more peaches. Do not be afraid to fill the shell as peaches to tend to cook way down in the oven. Spread another three tablespoons or so of crème fraîche on top and sprinkle with the remaining streusel.


Place it in the oven to bake. Check back in about 45 minutes - you are looking for golden streusel and bubbling crème fraîche. Place on a rack to cool for 15 minutes before serving.


The results are a pie which is not too sweet - more tart and savory and definitely not your every day peach pie. The crème fraîche sets up into an almost custard like consistency, which compliments the peaches perfectly - because of this, it is almost better the second day, when served cold, straight from the refrigerator.
More peaches to come. That is all.


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