Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pie season

Peach and raspberry pie!
I'm kind of crazy about fruit pies. They are pretty much everything I want in something sweet--just rich, flaky pastry spilling over with bright, luscious fruit. But I hardly ever make pies. I know, I know. A terrible shame. But you know how it is. Fruit pies are a finicky thing. Between pulling together the pastry, piling in the fruit, and letting it all bubble and bake, there can be a lot of heartbreak. So as much as I love them, I don't bake pies nearly enough.
But I'm hoping that will change, starting with this pie--peach-raspberry with pecan crumble. It is so, so good. It starts out with peaches--blanched and peeled, then roasted until silken and slumped. Then, come the raspberries, stirred into the still-hot peaches. These, once piled into a buttery shell, get mounded with pecan crumble, which bakes up golden and craggy. It's a bit involved, I know. A pie that will likely keep you in the kitchen all afternoon and leave you with a sink full of dishes. There's no hiding that. But this pie is also spectacular, quite possibly the best I've had. The peaches are intense, concentrated, deeply floral from their roasting. And the raspberries scattered throughout are so perfect with them, little pockets of jammy, puckery brightness. The pecan crumble too is spot on--it delivers needed crunch, with all that slumped, soft fruit. All in all, swoon-worthy.
Frozen pie shell, raspberries, peaches Peeling peaches Roasted peaches
The pie comes from the new Hoosier Mama Book of Pie. Hoosier Mama is local pie shop here in Chicago--an impressive sliver of a storefront and bakery that turns out wonderful pies all year long. They are very serious about their pie there. They are all about buttery, flaky pastry, all about intense, swoon-worthy fillings. It is my kind of shop. So I'm really glad that they've decided to share some of their pie wisdom in this book. Paula Haney and Allison Scott offer encouraging instruction. They recognise that pie-making is something that has mostly fallen out of favour at home and that the wisdom that went with it is largely lost to us. So they explain their process in detail and illustrate with lots of step-by-step photos. These definitely help with potential heartbreak. I am particularly thrilled to have picked up their crimping technique. The crusts at Hoosier Mama always have the most gorgeous, defined crimp. And now mine aren't so bad looking either.
I really would like to make more than one or two pies every year. Pie is just too good to not have around more often. And from here on out, I don't think it's going to be too much of a problem. The peach-raspberry pie is a bit demanding--one to keep in mind for when you want to make someone feel really special--but there are plenty of easier pies in the book. I'm already thinking about my next pie,  likely Lemon Chess with Sticky Blueberries. The gooey filling comes together in five minutes, and the blueberries should be a snap too. And then there's the pie after that. The first apples have already started showing up at the markets, and this book gives apples a lot of love. Classic apple, caramel-apple cider, apple and quince, dutch apple with sour cream custard, etc., etc. I can't wait! This, friends, is the start of pie season.
Fruit in the shell Pecan crumble Baked pie
One final note. As you can probably see, my pie filling is a little runnier than it should be. I wasn't very diligent in following the roasting directions for the peaches. I didn't have an appropriate-sized baking pan and thought my peaches were cooking too quickly, so I pulled them out at the 25-minute mark. It didn't occur to me at the time just how important the long roast was. But this pie's crumble topping mounds over the entire surface. That means none of the water remaining in the peaches evaporates in the final bake. Those peaches need to roast for at least 40 minutes. My mistake.
Slumpy slice

Peach-Raspberry Pie with Pecan Crumble
From Paula Haney and Allison Scott's Hoosier Mama Book of Pie
NOTE: To peel peaches, bring a wide pot of water to a boil. Using a paring knife, make an X in the bottom of each peach. Blanch the peaches for 45 second or so, in batches if need be. Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice-water. Peel the peaches, starting from the X. If a peach is being stubborn, try repeating the blanching process. If this doesn't work, take your vegetable peeler to it.

1 single-crust, blind-baked All-Butter Pie Dough shell (available as a PDF here)
125 g / 1 cup raspberries
1230 g / 8 cups peeled peach slices (see note above)
15 g / 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
.5 g / 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
200 g / 1 cup granulated sugar
31 g / 3 tablespoons potato starch
Pinch of kosher salt
1 recipe Pecan Crumble (see below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Pick through the raspberries, discarding any stems, leaves, or shrivelled berries. Set aside. (There's no need to wash them--the berries grow way off the ground.)
Place the peeled peach slices in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and almond extract and toss until the peaches are well coated.
Place the sugar, potato starch, and salt in a small bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the dry ingredients over the peaches and gently toss until most of the dry ingredients cling to the peaches.
Spray a 9 x 13-inch non-reactive baking pan with cooking spray. (I used butter without much issue.) Transfer the peaches to the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. 
Remove the pan from the oven and stir the peaches, making sure to scrape out any ingredients that stick to the sides of the baking dish. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 more minutes. 
Repeat this step until the peach juices are thickened and translucent. The peach slices should be tender but still hold their shape. Stir the raspberries directly into the hot peaches and cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, spoon the fruit into the pie shell and top with 1/2 of the Pecan Crumble. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crumble is lightly toasted. (I'd recommend setting your pie plate on a baking sheet--you might get a few drips over the side.) Top the pie with remaining crumble and bake 20-25 minutes more, until the top is crispy.
Cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Pecan Crumble
From Paula Haney and Allison Scott's Hoosier Mama Book of Pie
NOTE: To toast the pecans, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes.

148 g / 1 cup all-purpose flour
100 g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
30 g / 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
50 g / 1/2 cup toasted pecans
84 g / 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
Pinch of kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Mix on low until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Increase the speed to medium and mix until gravel-sized pieces form.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using to top a pie. The crumble can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.


  1. OH MAN, PIE. :) Why have I never roasted peaches to put in a pie? This will definitely be happening now!

    1. Yeah, it's a pretty brilliant idea. Concentrates flavour, pulls water out of the peaches so that you don't have a soppy crust!

  2. This is the second blog post I have seen that mentions that book and I am officially CONVINCED. I have to have it, so I can get this pie in my life.

  3. You described and photographed this so beautifully! Even though I rarely make pies either, I am very tempted. Like, this weekend-when-I-have-all-afternoon tempted :)

  4. Yes. Pies, pies, pies. Swoon-worthy indeed. I baked my first peach pie last week and loved it. Special and worth the effort.

    A quick question -- unless I somehow zoned out, I didn't see the crimping trick. My pie crusts never look that perfectly crimped! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Leah, I didn't write out the crimping instructions in part because I found the text hard to follow just on its own (the photos really help, and I'm never good with written instructions for something that I would follow better if someone were to show me in person). But here's my take on written instructions. It's a two-step crimp. First, the pie dough should be cut into a 14" round (I use the largest pan cover that I own as a guide), and the excess dough should be rolled under itself so that it sits on the lip of the pie plate. Then, pinch the crust all the way around to make it stand up. And here are the actual two steps: first, go around the crust, crimping with your thumbs and index fingers as you usually would; then, (this is the important part), reinforce each crimp by putting one index finger in the concave part of the crimp (inside the pie shell) while squeezing the crimp from the outside with your other thumb and index finger. The index finger on the inside holds the crimp's shape while the squeezing action makes the crimp more defined. Then, chill your pie shell for at least 20 minutes in the freezer (or for up to a week, covered).

      I hope that was more helpful than confusing...maybe I should have taken more photos!

    2. That was very helpful! Well described. Thanks!

  5. One of the best preserves I've made this summer is along the lines of this pie filling--chunks of peach with raspberries stirred in and everything suspended in a peachy-raspberry syrup. Amazing flavor combination.

    Also, I've heard about Hoosier Mama for a few years and have yet to actually try their pie. Clearly I've made a terrible error. I did finally tackle my hit-or-miss pie crust last year (I went all Americas Test Kitchen to figure it out and wrote about it). The trick to me is finding the combination of fats that make it flaky but also easy to work with--for me that was half butter and half leaf lard. It's the easiest to roll out cold without cracking and five pies in a row all turned out consistently great. I'll have to check out the cookbook though, my crimping technique is still haphazard to say the least.

  6. Yes, I'm not particularly crazy about peaches on their own, but they are magic with some raspberries thrown in!

    I've been wanting to try leaf lard in a pie crust ever since that Melissa Clark article in the NYT some years ago. (She rendered it herself!) I've just been afraid of committing myself to one of those large jars available at the farmers' market. Maybe this year.

    You should drop by HMPC and try a slice. They're sure to have some pretty awesome stuff going on, especially once there are fall apples to be had. I don't get out there very often--it's a bit of a trek for me--but they do make wonderful pies.

  7. I made it! We are in the middle of blueberry season, so I substituted those for the raspberries. My husband said it was the best I I had ever made (I make a lot of pies), but I think it needed to tartness of the raspberries. Don't get me wrong, it was fantastic! I need to get the cookbook.

    1. Oh, yay! I'm so glad that you and your husband enjoyed it! I think the book actually does mention subbing in blueberries for raspberries here. Good to know that it worked out!

  8. This looks amazing. I'm glad I can go buy some fresh peaches still...if I saw this post in January I'd be pining for this pie!

  9. Hi,
    just found your blog and love it - I bought exactly this pie from the store last week and it was delicious, than I bought the book as well and made the dutch apple pie with sour cream that I saw on lottie & doof's blog - also delicious
    Too bad that it took me so long to find out about this great pie shop. Check out my coca with roasted red peppers ( , very similiar too yours and soo good. I will try yours over the weekend :-)

  10. Hi-
    I have peeled and sliced peaches from my orchard frozen and ready to be baked off. I also have some quince in my refrigerator. Do you think I could combine the two into a dessert? If so, what are you thinking? Thank you!! Stephanie

  11. Hm, that's a good question, Stephanie. I've never actually baked with quince before, but from what I understand about it, it might be a bit of a challenge to combine quince and peaches, given that quince takes way, way longer to cook. I think that quince and apple might make better sense together--they have similar, complementary flavours and comparable cooking times. In fact, in the same book for the above pie recipe, there's definitely a quince and apple pie. Combining quince and peaches would be more like combining apples and peaches, and I don't know, maybe that would work. But it might take more imagination to see how than I currently have! In any case, good luck with your baking!