“Easy as pie”. Ha. Whoever coined that little chestnut is a filthy liar. Anyone who’s actually tried their luck at homemade pie has almost certainly had their ass handed to them, at least the first several times.
The problem is the crust of course, because the flaky style of pastry we are accustomed to in the US is pretty tricky to master. There’re all sorts of tricks involving type of flour, type of fat, and of course keeping everything cold. I learned a relatively surefire way from an old acquaintance years ago, she being a sublimely rare combination that is award-winning pie maker (verified, I saw the ribbons) plus exotic dancer (umm, also verified). And her pie of choice, and the only kind she ever baked me – peach. Of course.
So when I came into a small bounty of the most beautiful white peaches I’ve had all year, I ate myself sick and still had a 1/2 dozen sitting around on the verge of going bad. Since cooking=life extension, first thought was pie. But 6 peaches is enough for about A pie, and making piecrust dough is a major time investment, and totally not worth it unless you make like 20 crusts. So I turned to pie’s more approachable, but just as fun (if slightly less attractive) cousin, cobbler. How this dish, which is simply fruit topped with a rudimentary pastry, is related to the construction of shoes, I do not know. And I’ve already hit my tangent limit, so recipe, if you can call it that, right now!
at least 1/2 stick of butter
flour, sugar (brown, white doesn’t matter), salt, baking powder
lemon juice and/or zest if you have it
Preheat oven to 450
Peel the peaches. The easiest way is to blanch them, slitting the skin all the way around first:
You can sorta see the slit in the above pic, but below you’ll see that after about 20 seconds of blanching, the skins split and slip off easily. Roll em around a bit to make sure they’re blanched on all sides. This time I didn’t cut all the way through when slitting the skin, but i don’t see a problem cutting down to the pit initially – it may actually save a step later, but the risk is having the peaches fall open in the water, and losing precious peachy fluids.
After the skins are of, just split and slice, saving the pits. The peaches look a little tired here, because I had to tend to customers in the middle of the process. Gotta make that money son:
Put the slices in a bowl, add sugar, lemon juice/peel, and salt to taste, and about 2 tsps of cornstarch, and gently toss. Bang, filling done, no need to precook:
OK quick detour…so if you crack open a peach pit, you get a nut that is basically an almond. The perfume of these things is amazing – like super clean, natural amaretto – but they are extremely bitter:
They’re not great for eating, but I love the scent, so I usually crush the nuts, simmer them, and add the strained liquid to the filling. I used water this time, but I’m thinking more of the volatile compounds could be dissolved in alcohol. Next the pastry dough. Add about 1/2 cup of flour and sugar, 1/2 stick of cold butter (I like to cut it into smallish chunks first), about a teaspoon of baking powder, and some salt into a bowl:
Now combine the ingredients, using your fingers to pinch and pull the butter into small, powder coated chunklets. They don’t have to be uniform, just try not to have a huge butter pieces:
We now come to a fork in the road. Some people stop here and use the current mixture as a topping. But in my view, this is more of a streusel than pastry. I like to moisten it with either beaten egg or, as in this case, just some water. Mix very gently until it’s the consistency of loose oatmeal. Add the fruit to a buttered dish, then pour the batter over the fruit:
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned. Total prep and cook time is less than 30 minutes and the…how YOU doin!?