October 10, 2009

honey caramel peach pie

This past summer I didn't find myself at any out of state peach-picking farms, but instead, I settled for somewhere a much shorter distance away: the supermarket's fruit aisle. Yes, I can proudly say that if someone asked me to name the aisle where they can find fruit, and what fruit to find there, I could tell them. Ok, maybe not that proudly. But I'll admit that Fairway proved extremely satisfactory. No! I don't mean that! What can I say? I'm a right off-the-tree junkie. 
Am I the only person who thinks that the seasons are flying by? Summer was too short, and the fall is already becoming too cold for me. And now I'm once again falling into my regular all work, no cooking regimen. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that after a long day at work (or school), all I want to do is get home and have something for dinner that does not require an hour of prep time. Yep, you could find a month's worth of food stocked away in our freezer. 
But the peach pie. Oh, the peach pie. Where to begin? The filling was incredible but a little runny, which is my fault because I insisted on eating it right out of the oven and didn't give it any setting time. It was ooey-gooey with a mildly sweet and flowery flavor from the honey. Who could have resisted? The crust; my new favorite recipe. Flaky, crispy, not at all soggy, and it puffed. Yes, folks, my pie crust puffed up like those in really homey bakeries where the crust is extremely uneven and balloons up and looks oh so delicious. Perhaps a little alarming, even, that my excitement over being able to make a giant mound of butter and flour swell up has not ceased after weeks. Maybe pathetic would be the right word?
This is the best darn pie I've ever made, and even if you've never made one before, I insist you try this. Just one thing: make sure to use mild honey, otherwise, the flavor will overpower the dish. Or, you could try increasing the amount of peaches to compensate (who cares if it overflows a bit, right?) I used golden blossom honey.
Honey Caramel Peach Pie
from Gourmet Magazine

3lb ripe peaches
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/4 cup mild honey
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
All butter pastry dough (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon whole milk

Cut an X in the bottom of each peach, then blanch peaches in batches in boiling water 15 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking. Peel peaches and cut into 1 inch thick wedges.
Toss peaches well with cornstarch, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Bring 1/2 cup sugar, honey, and water to a boil in a 1 1/2-to 2qt heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add butter, swirling pan until butter is melted. Pour over fruit and toss (caramel may harden slightly but will melt in the oven).
Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into a 9-inch plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2 inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out remaining dough.
Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. 
Transfer filling to pie shell, mounding it. Cover pie with pastry round. Trim with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together, then crimp decoratively. Brush top all over with some milk, then sprinkle with remaining Tbsp sugar. Cut 3 steam vents in top of crust with a paring knife. 
Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 5o minutes more. Cool pie to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours.

All-Butter Pastry Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup plus 1 to 4 Tbsp ice water

Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 1/3 cup ice water over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. 
Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until just incorporated, then test again. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and press into a ball. Divide in half and form into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Notes: Dough can be chilled up to 1 day. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before rolling out. Recipe can be halved if making a single-crust pie. Use a rounded 1/4 tsp salt and start with 3 Tbsp water. 

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