Have you ever been in the midst of fruit so and lush and swollen with ripeness that it sends out long sinuous trails of heady and bewitching fragrances which reach out and enfold your entire being? Fruit that not whispers softly, but fairly shrieks “PICK ME ! PICK ME!” ? So pick you do. And you become drunken with olfactory overload and you then realize that you must have suffered a temporary black out, because the next thing you know you’ve arrived home from the Chagrin Falls Farmer’s Market with bag upon bag laden with the seasons most aromatic and juicy peaches, deeply sweet and inky-purple beaded blackberries still warm from the morning sun, and other ambrosial treasures that tumble out and over your counter tops as you ponder just when and how you will manage all of this luscious bounty, and what exactly were you thinking?! Well, if you are anything like me, what you’ll be thinking is that it’s time to roll up the sleeves, break out the rolling pin, clear and flour the counter and start baking some pie.
Inspired by Eggbeater’s latest writings on pie making , I used Shuna’s recommendation of the All-Butter Crust from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook (one of my well-used favorites – both the book and the dough). For the filling, I peeled, pitted and sliced 6-7 substantial peaches, added to them a couple handfuls of the blackberries and tossed all with 3 tablespoons of flour and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. I tasted my fruit which was naturally sweet on its on, so only the smallest amount of dark muscovado sugar was gently folded in; maybe a generous 1/4 cup. A pinch of sea salt, a bigger pinch of freshly ground cardamom, the seeds from a half of a scraped vanilla bean and the zest microplaned from one lemon comprised the little seasoning required to highlight the nuances of the stone and shrub fruits. Into the dough-lined pyrex plate the filling went. After dotting the fruit with small cubes of cold sweet butter, on went the top crust followed by a 15 minute chill in the fridge (I should have chilled longer as my kitchen was HOT, and the dough ultimately did not hold it’s crimped edge ). The upper crust was graced with a lick of heavy cream applied with a pastry brush, and a flick of my wrist showered a crunchy veil of raw sugar over the cream.
The unbaked pie was set onto a sheet pan. The oven had been preheated to 375, rack on the lower third lined with a pizza stone where the stone does double-duty to crisp the bottom pie crust. The pie baked for twenty minutes when I dropped the heat to 350 where it continued to bake for an hour or so longer; I was remiss in tracking the time as I was gauging the pie’s progress by appearance and not by the clock. As you can see, the crust could not contain its burden of the thick, oozing and sticky juices. My house smelled like a heavenly orchard of toasted fruit, as did the backyard, parking lot and garage. My postwoman stood outside and inhaled deeply; I had wished that I had a piece to offer her.
The bubbled-over juices welded into a carbonized mess. Fortunately, I know a good little kitchen trick for this one: I filled the sheet pan with warm water and a Bounce dryer sheet. After the pan sat with the water and dryer sheet for an hour or two, what initially appeared to be a daunting task washed clean with ease and just the slightest bit of elbow grease. Don’t ask why it works – I just know that it does and I’m happy enough for that; my brain can only harbor so much minutiae.
I’d love to show you a crusty, gooey slice of my pie, but it was sent on its merry way to an eagerly awaiting family of five. They deemed it “Pie to die”.