August 6, 2010

What I Should Have Done

I have been holding onto this recipe for a while now, as it keeps getting buried under other posts in my queue.  Which after you make this pie, you will understand, is a grave tragedy.  This pie is delicious, all about ripe sweet juicy peaches and peach pie is my favorite pie.  Remember what I said about being a sucker for crumb topping?  This is yet another example of that love.  Alas, this is not only a tale of love, it is also a tale of caution; as in, I need to learn when not to modify a recipe.  Who am I to say Martha Stewart, or her cooking staff, don't know their stuff?  Exactly.  They do.  Martha-1, Me-0.  But even after I stepped over the recipe modification line, this pie was still terrific.  So learn from me, here's what you shouldn't do:

  • When the recipe says to pit and quarter your peaches, do just that.  What I did was I looked at the peach halves, decided they were entirely too large to be cut in half only once more and then proceeded to cut each half into three wedges.  Since the wedges were smaller and the bake time remained the same, what ended up happening was the peaches cooked down and almost melted into the pie.  It didn't come out of the oven looking nearly as pretty as the photo with the recipe, and the pie probably lost some of it's structure.
  • One day I will get it through my head that sour cream and creme fraiche are two different beasts that can't always be used interchangeably.  Don't be like me and just use sour cream here because you already have some at home, suck it up and get the good stuff.  Heck, you can even make your own!  The higher fat content in the creme fraiche will make it set when baked into the pie, like little sweet pockets of cheese.  Sour cream on the other hand breaks and separates.   Again, not the end of the world, and though it did add a nice tang, it could have been so much more.

But it's not all bad news.  There was one change I made, and liked, which was to add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to the crumb mixture, because peach and cinnamon go hand in hand.  It's just enough to notice, but not enough to outshine the fruit.

Peach and Creme Fraiche Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart

As if the info above wasn't enough, here's one last note.  There's been some debate on whether or not the crust really needs to be par-baked.  Since there isn't a lot of moisture in the filling it could probably go without and the crust shouldn't get soggy.  It's up to you, but I thought I had done enough experimentation as it was, and went with par baking.  And remember, if you use dried beans as weights, you can't cook them after, mind as well toss 'em in a bag labeled pie weights because that's all they're good for now.

1/2 recipe your favorite pie dough chilled for at least an hour in the fridge


1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

1/4 cup cold (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces


1 1/2 pounds ripe (4 to 5 medium) yellow peaches, pitted and quartered

4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

5 tablespoons crème fraîche

Roll out pie dough to about 1/8-inch thick and fit into a regular (not deep dish) pie plate, 9 1/2 to 10 inches in diameter. Trim edge to 1/2 inch; fold under and crimp as desired. Pierce bottom of dough all over with a fork. Transfer to freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F right before you take it out.

Stir confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and flour together in a small bowl. Add bits of cold butter, and either using a fork, pastry blender or your fingertips, work them into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Par-bake crust: Tightly press a piece of aluminum foil against frozen pie crust and cover with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully remove foil and any weights you have used, press any bubbled-up spots in with the back of a spoon, and return the crust to the oven for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.

Make the filling: Sprinkle quartered peaches with sugar and salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Spread two tablespoons crème fraîche in bottom of par-baked pie shell, sprinkle with one-third of the streusel and fan the peach quarters decoratively on top. Dot the remaining three tablespoons of crème fraîche on the peaches and sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Bake the pie about 50 minutes. Cover edge of crust with a strip of foil if it browns too quickly. Let cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving.

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