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Jan 27/17

Life’s a Peach and Then You Pie Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

My Aunt Edith made the best peach pie I’ve ever put in my mouth. And if you could see me, you’d know I’ve had a lot of peach pie, and this is no small assertion.

As a little girl, my folks would drive to my dad’s stomping grounds in Cleveland County, Arkansas, to visit my grandmother in Rye and my aunt and uncle in Barkada. These places were so small they weren’t even towns – just communities. There wasn’t much to do but swat flies, watch cars pass by and hope Aunt Edith would fix me peach pie, which she almost always did.

What I remember is she would take a big, tin foil-wrapped wheel out of the freezer, uncover it on the kitchen table next to the ashtray and her always-lit cigarette, dot it with oleo (that’s margarine) and shove it in the oven. It came out tangy-tart perfection; a stone fruit work of art.

I don’t think there was anything unique or magical in my Aunt Edith’s pie that made it so good that I remember it 40 years later. She, like all the other women in my life, didn’t follow culinary trends because just putting a meal on the table was enough. Truly, you had two choices when it came to what was served: take it or leave it. The fact that the peaches were fresh and probably from a neighbor’s trees or put up the summer before was a common practice instead of an homage to local foods and homesteading. Aunt Edith also made her own pie crusts with artery-clogging, mouth-partying lard, flour and a fork, not because she was a purist but because that’s the only way you got pie crust if you wanted it.

True, you can get a frozen peach pie from the store that is almost as good and a whole lot less hassle than homemade. You also can get a haircut for $10, but you get what you pay for. If you are feeling nostalgic in the Arkansas area, go to Collins’ Round Mountain Orchard in Conway or the Johnson County Peach Festival in Clarksville and pick up some blushing beauties for this pie. You can even toss in some lemon juice, ground ginger, peach Schnapps or brandy — whatever you desire. Then you can thank my Aunt Edith later.

Basic Peach Pie (with homemade crust)
Pastry for a double-crust, 9-inch pie
5 cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 cup sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsps butter
2 Tbps sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix flour, 1 cup sugar and cinnamon and set aside. 

Wash, peel, and slice fresh peaches (you can leave the peel on, too. It won’t hurt anything and will make the pie peachier). Mix together peaches with the dry ingredients then spoon into the bottom pie crust.
Cover with top crust, cut slits in it, seal the edges. Sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons of sugar and dot with butter.
Cover the edges with foil to prevent over browning; bake 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust. Remove foil for the last 15 minutes of baking so edges brown evenly with rest of crust.

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (you can use margarine or lard, too)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)
6 to 8 Tbsps ice water
Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix (don’t have a food processor? You can do this with a fork). Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times until mixture resembles coarse meal with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. Pinch some of the dough to see if it holds together. If so, it’s ready to roll out. If it doesn’t, add just a little more water and pulse again.
Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Separate dough into two discs. Handle the dough just enough to form the disks. If you handle it too much, the crust will be tough.
Sprinkle a little flour around the disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.
When ready to use, remove one disc from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier (you also can use the pie dough immediately after you have taken it out of the machine). Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8-inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. If necessary, add a few sprinkles of flour under the dough to keep the dough from sticking. Place onto a 9-inch pie plate and press the pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie dish and fill with peach mixture.

Roll out second disc of dough, as before and place onto the top of the filling in the pie. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork. Score the top of the pie with four 2-inch long cuts so that steam from the cooking pie can escape.

Bake finished pie at 425 degrees F for 35-45 minutes. Wait 10 minutes for it to cool and dig in.

You can top this pie with vanilla ice cream, slices of cheddar cheese, whipped cream or whipped topping. Makes a great dessert, breakfast, lunch, supper or snack.

Because of her love of pie, KD Reep now follows a high protein/low carb diet. When not reading up on the carb counts of groceries, Reep works at Flywrite Communications, Inc., the premier marketing communications agency of Mabelvale, Arkansas. Follow her at Flywrite Inc or on Twitter: @kdreep.



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