Summer + living in Georgia = obscene peach consumption in our house. We’re talking bushels and bushels. I LOVE peaches.
With our bushel last week I thought, I should make a pie [as I confidently pumped my jolly fist in front of me]. But as I read over a few pie crust recipes, little whispers of doubt crept in my head. Why are pie crust recipes so long? I mean, there are like 3 or 4 ingredients and then five thousand pages of detailed instructions. I was letting my inexperience cripple me. I couldn’t remember the last time I used my rolling pin–certainly haven’t used it while we have lived in this house. I have made maybe 8 pies with homemade crust in my whole life. With that little factoid, let’s cut away to this photo:
This is my grandmother–age 80 in this photo–standing in one of her three kitchens. She makes 8 pies for one meal. I make 8 pies for life. Look at that smile. Is she gloating? No, no, she’s really sweet–wait, is she laughing at me? Do you sense my insecurities? The woman makes all that delicious stuff just out of her head–there are no recipes. Well, there were, years ago; but she has long memorized them.
My three children were lined up at the counter, standing on chairs and watching me wrestle the dough for the crust. ”This doesn’t look right,” I fretted, “How does NanNaw do it? What am I doing wrong?”
Finally the pie made it to the oven, where we watched it like fiends. And, then it was done.
Sweet and delicious.
Miracles do happen.
Cherry Peach Pie
3 cups sifted flour (sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups non-hydrogenated shortening
8 to 10 tablespoons cold water
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy butter (Earth Balance), softened
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups pitted and sliced fresh peaches
1 cup pitted and halved fresh cherries
For crust, sift together the flour and salt. Cut shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it combines with a consistency similar to cornmeal.
Add 8 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough will hold a ball shape. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Divide dough into 2 pieces. Return one to the refrigerator.
Lightly sprinkle a board with flour and rub your rolling pin with flour to prevent sticking. Roll the dough ball in opposite directions to form a flat disc 2 inches wider than your pie plate. Gently roll dough onto rolling pin to unroll into a pie plate prepared with non-stick spray. Turn under excess dough around the edges and flute. Bake crust in a 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. Cool.
For filling, combine flour, sugars, butter, cornstarch and cinnamon. Fold in peaches and cherries. Fill pie crust with peach and cherry mixture.
For upper crust, remove second dough ball from refrigerator and roll into a disc the size of the pie plate. Using a scallop-edged pastry wheel, cut dough into strips. Layer strips on top of fruit filling in a lattice design.
Bake pie at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, sitting on a cookie sheet to catch any filling overflow.
Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30-45 minutes, until crust is golden. If the edges of the pie brown too quickly, line edges with foil. Cool pie an hour before slicing for filling to set.
(I reduced the recommended sugar–originally 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar–in this revised recipe by half for a subtle sweetness.)
I felt victorious for the day–a heroine in the eyes of my children–as we sat down in the middle of the afternoon for a nice slice of warm cherry-peach pie. Then my mind wandered again to that woman pictured above. She makes her pies, the multitude of pies, with the same red-handled rolling pin she used in the late 1940s. That is a lot of love baked in pies over the decades. And before she had three kitchens at her fingertips, she was a young bride to a boy fresh back from Japan. They had two baby boys and lived in a two-room log cabin that my grandfather built for his young family–no electricity, no running water. The 20-year-old mother baked all her pies rolled from the red-handled rolling pin, her cakes, her cornbread, and her biscuits in a tin box that was heated atop a kerosene-fueled two-burner hot plate. Did I say I was feeling victorious? I smile in absolute awe. NanNaw, you amaze me.