Oh kids. The pie is resting in the refrigerator before The Big Bake, so I can't tell you how this ends yet. But let me tell you how it began.
Sept 11, 2008
Name of Pie: "Perfect" Peach Pie
Constituents: Crazy Giant Fresh Peaches Between Cream Cheese Flaky Pie Crust (a two crust pie)
Last month Rose posted on her blog a beautiful peach galette that made many mouths salivate. Even I was motivated to try to make it. And you know how I feel about pie.
However, I thought that maybe a galette was a little too ambitious for me, seeing as I have pie crust issues. All that crust scared me. At least in a pie, there's a whole lot of fruit to distract from what could be a terrible pie crust. So I decided on Rose's peach pie.
(Aside: the peaches have been wild and bountiful in the last month. It has been driving me crazy. I can't eat stone fruit raw, so I have needed this pie. I might not share it.)
Last week Cookie and I dared a trip out to Sauvie Island to buy peaches. My original dream was to u-pick the peaches, but I had a mom in early labor and didn't know how much time I had to wander through a peach orchard. So I bought peaches from Kruger's Farm store. They were huge and fragrant. I wanted to buy all of them.
Last week is a big blur; at some point I went to and came home from the birth, and sometime after that I made the cream cheese crust. I decided to mix the crust the old fashioned way with my hands and a pastry cutter. This was a lot of fun for me. I am very tactile so getting my hands in the dough and feeling it transform into something soft and stretchy was exciting! I wrapped up the dough and gave it a little rest in the refrigerator. Which turned into a long rest in the freezer.
Today is Thursday, which is my day off, and so it was time to finish that pie. Last night I moved the dough from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost. I rolled it out this evening and it was so easy! The dough even kinda felt a little silky and pillowy. Could I be getting a hang of this pasty thing? Dare I dream?
I put on The Black Keys and peeled and cut the peaches. Oh my. How sensual a ripe juicy peach can be, especially when accompanied by excellent blues rock. Good times, good times.
I decided to use golden baker's sugar for the pie instead of white sugar. White sugar has such a sharp, hard flavor. The sweetness is very direct and aggressive. Golden baker's sugar, which has some of the molasses left in it, has a strong sweetness like white sugar, but it is more round, full, and soft. The flavor, which has depth and breadth, fills the mouth. Since I had just enjoyed a multi-sensory experience slicing the peaches, I didn't want to ruin it with crappy white sugar.
So here comes the good part: after letting the peaches macerate for a while, I strained off the juices into a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup, popped it in the microwave and set it to boil on high for 12 minutes, as per Rose's instructions. The idea is to concentrate the juices before baking, so that the peach flavor is intensified but the crust doesn't get all soggy and ruined.
Apparently our microwave is a little more powerful than Rose's, because thick white smoke was billowing out of the appliance after 10 minutes, and when I yanked the door open in panic I could make out a lot of black stuff where the caramelized juices should have been.
After the smoke cleared, this is what I found in my pyrex cup:
Hmm. I don't think that will be going into the pie.
At least the crust will stay crisp!
I went ahead and made the pie anyway. The peaches were still juicy. This is peaches, people! There will be no giving up!
Rolling out the top crust was even quicker then the bottom crust. And kind of fun! Could it be? Was I enjoying pie making?
I slipped the assembled pie in the refrigerator for one last rest, and cleaned up. And now we have come full circle, friends. During the writing of this post, the pie baked and is now cooling on the counter. Sadly, Rose says the pie is done when the juices are thickly bubbling through the slits in the top, which was barely happening. Not a lot of juices.
The pie needs to rest up for the next three hours, which means it will be ready to eat at 3:43 am. So we'll all just have to wait for tomorrow's breakfast.
Well, the pie is still amazingly juicy. I probably could have let the peaches macerate for longer, but considering I turned the peach juices into charcoal it is for the best. Just a note to myself for next time: macerate longer, microwave less. It also means that I probably could have baked the pie a little longer, until the juices thickly bubbled through the slits.
The crust? Well, the bottom crust is soggy and tasteless. Sigh. The top crust is nice and flaky, maybe not as tender as it could be. It is a little gummy, but the cream cheese tang is nice.
And the peaches--oh the peaches. Who cares about crust when you have a plateful of peaches waiting to be devoured? I actually am glad, in a way, that I burned all the juices and sugar, because that left pretty much only the peachy peachness to sing through. I think I like my pies far less sweet than Rose, so note to self for next time: less sugar, no burning.