“If you can’t find perfectly ripe peaches, make the apple or plum variation.” So says Nick Malgieri in the introduction to this recipe. Reading the ingredients, you quickly understand why. Other than the peaches, the filling contains nothing but sugar, a few tablespoons of flour, and some nutmeg. The peaches are clearly the star of the show.
So, with all of that, you’d think I’d heed Nick’s warning, wouldn’t you? Anyone who has made as many of Nick’s recipes as I have and trusts that he knows what he’s talking about wouldn’t try this recipe without perfect peaches.
Except me. But more on that in a minute. This recipe is very simple to put together. After rolling out and shaping the puff pastry, you prepare the peaches, mix them with a little sugar and spice, then put the whole thing together and bake it.
I started by making the woven lattice crust. This part might seem a bit intimidating if you’ve never made a lattice topping before, but Nick’s instructions make it simple.
I began by drawing an outline of my pan on parchment paper, then rolling puff pastry into a rectangle slightly larger than the outline.
Next, I cut the puff pastry into strips,…
… and removed every other strip.
Then I folded the first, third, and fifth strips back to the center, laid a strip of dough crosswise over the remaining dough, folded the strips back down, and repeated with the second and fourth strips.
I turned the parchment around and did the same thing from the other end, and I had my lattice top.
I slid the lattice into the fridge while I prepared the filling.
To prepare the peaches, I put a pot of water on to boil and filled a bowl with ice water. After cutting a small “X” in the base of each peach, I plunged them into the boiling water for a few seconds, then moved them to the ice bath.
When I began to peel the peaches, it quickly became obvious that they were underripe. The skins, which should have slipped off, clung stubbornly to the peaches. When I switched from a paring knife to a peeler, it was apparent that the flesh, which should have squished under the pressure of the peeler, was firm and underripe.
Heeding Nick’s warning, I should have stopped right then and either switched to apples or plums, or returned to the store to buy different, riper peaches. At the very least (as I realized later), I should have returned the peaches to the boiling water to loosen the skins and soften the peaches somewhat.
Of course, I didn’t do any of those thing, but rather, proceeded stubbornly with the pie. Once all the peaches had been peeled and sliced, I mixed them with the sugar, flour, and nutmeg.
I scraped the mixture into the pan, then topped it with chunks of cold, unsalted butter.
I took the lattice crust out of the refrigerator, brushed it with egg wash, sprinkled it with finishing sugar, and slid it onto the pie.
I baked the pie in a 375° oven for about 35 minutes, until the crust was golden and the filling was nice and bubbly.
I served the pie with homemade crème anglaise ice cream, which I hoped would make up a bit for the lackluster peaches.
Now, you’re probably expecting to read that this pie was tough and entirely lacking in flavor. To my surprise, however, it was actually delicious. Yes, the peaches were a bit on the firm side (although they did soften up considerably in the oven). And the flavor wasn’t as bright and “peachy” as it might have been with ripe peaches. But it was still really good.
I made this recipe as part of the Modern Baker Challenge. And it’s one I’ll definitely make again. But next time, with perfectly ripe peaches.