Patchwork-top peach pie

It’s September, and some of the best varieties of peaches are ripe and delicious! Steve and I usually travel over the mountains to Cashmere, Washington, and get a big box of them. One year we did this in early September and stayed over an extra night–leaving the peaches in the back of the car. It was still hot weather there, and in the morning, the car was full of fruit flies….

When you have a lot of great peaches, you can think about using five or six of them in a lovely peach pie. Weaving the strips of pie dough on the top is a little time consuming, but I think it’s worth it for your pie, at least once or twice in fruit season.

peach pie

Peach pie by me, blue-and-white plate by Nell Sanger

This year we had to buy our peaches locally. Since this isn’t peach country, that meant finding a fruit stand or store with a good supplier. Fortunately, they’re around, and worth looking for. There’s no substitute for perfectly ripe peaches.

And if you haven’t read it yet, go out and get Russ Parsons’ great book, “How to Pick a Peach,” which explains about ripeness and maturity and tells you how to choose, store and prepare all kinds of fruits and vegetables. It’s very informative and well written and even has recipes for a terrific simple dish you can make for each type of produce.

How to pick a peach

Of course, if you have perfect peaches, just eating them au naturel (preferably outside with the juice dripping down your chin) is the ultimate pleasure. And if you decide to make dessert, there are simpler and less caloric alternatives to pie, such as peach cobbler or crisp.

But for those of us who just must have a peach pie, there’s the top-crust only alternative. You basically just eliminate the bottom crust, so you’re making and eating only half of that buttery pie crust. Another nice aspect of the top-only pie is that you don’t have to worry about a soggy bottom crust–because there isn’t one at all!

Mark Bittman has an even better twist on this idea. Back in July he wrote about baking fruit with a patchwork pie-crust topping. Instead of weaving the pie strips together, he cut the strips into pieces and set them atop the fruit in a more rustic patchwork kind of lattice. This method makes it easier than ever to have a great peach pie.

By the way, you really do NOT need a food processor to make pie dough.  I don’t have one and no one has ever complained about my pie crusts. Just use your fingers to cut the butter quickly into the flour till it’s the texture of cornmeal; then add a little ice water till the dough just comes together. That’s it. Simple, and you just wash your hands rather than all those food processor parts.

Here’s Bittman’s recipe. He used peaches and cherries in a rectangular pan. I cut the pie dough recipe in half (so it had 1/4 cup of butter, total), used some frozen raspberries instead of cherries, reduced sugar to 1/4 cup, and baked it at 400 degrees for 35 minutes in a 9-inch pie pan. Yum.

Patchwork-top peach pie

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2 Comments

Filed under baked goods, dessert, fall, fruit, musings, Praise for other cooks, summer, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Patchwork-top peach pie

  1. Joan Gaasland-Smith

    Ciao, Toby. Thank you for the parsley soup recipe. After last night’s blustery weather, soup sounds perfect!

    But I have a question about an entirely different matter, one on which you are an esperta. And that is lemons! While on Saltspring Island this weekend in a little shop that sold all kinds of imported foods, my husband handed me a jar of small preserved lemons. They looked like they were pickled (why didn’t I check the ingredients?). Our question was, what does one do with them? They looked pretty, but the manner in which they were presented made it clear that they were for consuming, not just for viewing like some of those jars of peppers and other vegetables and fruits that look like they were packed by elves (how else to explain the impossible display of perfectly-packed items in bottle neck jars).

    I told mio marito that I would ask you, as you know everything lemonic. Grazie. joan

    • lemonodyssey

      hi Joan,
      Check out my lemon blog for more about preserved lemons. I like to use them chopped in tuna or salmon salads and they’re also great in spinach salads or anything that needs a savory citrus kick. (Just wash them first or they will be too salty). Or you could mix some chopped preserved lemons and maybe rosemary into some goat cheese or cream cheese for a delicious spread. There are also Middle Eastern recipes that feature them, such as Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives. I’ll try to post that recipe soon!

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