Monday, September 16, 2013

peach crunch pie


This pie is so over the top good, it will make you believe in homemade pie again: that the effort and sacrifice is worth it. Sweet peaches studded into a sour cream nutmeg scented custard, and topped with buttery cinnamon streusel? heaven.

And really, for a custard pie, this one is as easy as they come. The custard bakes together in the oven, so that making it is really assembling it. (This is unlike other custard pies that require to cook the custard in a double boiler and then let it cool in the refrigerator.)

I brought this pie to a 4th of July pool party at a friends house. It was such a lovely, relaxed afternoon- Harriet even went swimming for the first time! At the end, we all sat on the patio, eating pie in the shade and it was really the perfectness that you hope for in summer: good people, conversation and relaxation. I was very blessed that our friends opened up their home to us for the day.

So, if you find yourself with a few ripe peaches hanging around, I think this pie would make a splendid send-off to summer to enjoy with friends.

This recipe is from The Fiddlehead Cookbook.

Filling:

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 egg
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (if you can swing it, fresh ground is best)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups peeled and thinly sliced fresh peaches or nectarines

Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I use pecans for the walnut-averse)
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into several pieces

1 unbaked single 9-inch pie crust:

My favorite pie crust recipe is Deb Perelman's All Butter pie crust recipe and her tips are very helpful. Find the recipe on here brilliant blog, The Smitten Kitchen, here.

1) Preheat oven to 450 F and place rack in center of oven.

2) For the filling: Stir together sour cream, egg, 1 cup sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4 cup flour, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the peaches and pour into unbaked 9-inch pie shell. Seriously, how easy is that? No double burner, no stirring constantly and then chilling the custard. I love how simple this pie is.

3) Bake pie for 10 minutes at 450 F. Then, reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 10 more minutes. I think this initial baking time is just to help the custard cook up a bit before adding the crumb topping.

4) While pie is baking, prepare streusel topping:

Give the walnuts (or pecans) a rough chop. In a large bowl, stir together the nuts, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Cut the cold butter in with either a pastry cutter or a butter knife. The goal here is to chop the butter into pea sized pieces that are coated with the nut-sugar-flour mixture. At some point I usually transition from using the pastry cutter to using my (very clean) fingers to pinch it all together. (This is one of the reasons why you always want to start out with very cold butter. If at any point it starts to soften up on you, pause and put the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes.)

5) Take the pie out of the oven (leave the oven still on at 350 F) and sprinkle the topping evenly over. Then, put the pie back in the oven and bake for 45 to 50 more minutes. The goal is to bake until the majority of the pie seems a little puffed up (the center will not be), the juices are bubbling and the streusel topping is lightly browned. (Usually when I am sprinkling on the streusel topping, I take the opportunity to cover the crust with a piece of tinfoil to keep it from overcooking.)

6. Remove from oven, cool on a rack, and serve at room temperature; or refrigerate and serve cold. Store tightly wrapped in refrigerator. (Please note: it is normal for the filling to appear curdled. It does not impact the flavor at all. Also, should you be fortunate to have any leftovers, a slice makes a killer breakfast straight from the fridge the next day.)



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