It’s hard to go wrong with sweet peaches, handpicked blackberries, brown sugar, and lots of love. This Peach Pie with Blackberries and Ginger hits the spot.
While devouring Sarah Weeks’ mystery novel Pie, Eliza decided she wanted to bake her way through the recipes that appear at the beginning of each chapter. For me, this seemed like a great challenge to embark on with my budding reader/baker.
Eliza set her heart on trying out the peach pie recipe first. In addition to the sheer deliciousness of this ephemeral summer fruit, the fact that Alice –the book’s young sleuth-protagonist– loves peach pie best certainly helped sway Eliza in its favor.
Unfortunately, we started reading this book in January, about as far from peach season as you can get. I have nothing against frozen fruit, but it just seemed wrong for Eliza to bake her first pie from a bag of pre-sliced fruit pulled from the grocery store freezer. Especially fruit as gorgeous and succulent as ripe, blushing peaches.
Fortunately for me, Alice’s Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, only ever made peach pie with ripe, in-season peaches. This nuance was not lost on Eliza, and it eased her disappointment somewhat.
I also reminded Eliza of Aunt Polly’s pie philosophy — “The most important ingredient in a pie is the love that goes into making it” — and promised we’d make peach pie just as soon as summer arrived.
So we started our pie quest elsewhere, and really, even if you don’t end up with peach pie for your efforts, you still end up with pie.
Near the novel’s end, Alice’s best friend Charlie shows up at her door with a bag of ripe peaches: “The same kind your auntie always used. I saw them at the A&P this morning and it came to me in a flash <…>. We ought to make a pie.”
Alice, who desperately misses her deceased Aunt Polly, makes a pie in her memory. As Alice works from her aunt’s filling recipe, Charlie’s instinct proves spot on: “It was almost as if Aunt Polly was there inside Alice’s head telling her what to do. ‘Like this, Alice. Remember?'”
As Alice remembers her aunt, she also taps into a treasure trove of pie-making tricks that impress her friend Charlie.
One of those tricks includes using hot and cold water baths to peel peaches. “‘Good gravy,’ said Charlie as Alice slipped the loosened skin off with her fingers, revealing the glistening yellow flesh beneath it. ‘It’s like magic.'”
I’m with Charlie. I’ve made more than a few pies, but I’ve always shied away from peach pie because peeling peaches freaks me out.
Ripe peaches seem so delicate, and I always have this feeling that I’m hurting them when I peel them. But after submerging peaches in boiling, then ice water, the skin gently slips away leaving nary a bruise on the smooth, tender flesh.
I love baking pies with my daughter, and I love that she led me to bake a pie outside of my comfort zone. In addition to the new ease with which I peel peaches, I’m now a lattice crust maker.
Before we made this pie the first time in early June, I can only remember making a lattice crust once in my life; it just always felt like too much trouble. Now it seems like no big thing to weave crust atop a mound of juicy fruit, especially after watching my seven-year-old do it beautifully.
As Eliza and I put that first pie together, we decided to throw in a few of last summer’s frozen blackberries to make it look prettier. Purple is, after all, Eliza’s favorite color.
The combination of golden peach and deep purple peeking through the flaky lattice crust makes for a pretty pie all right.
But it tastes even better than it looks. It’s hard to go wrong with ripe peaches, handpicked blackberries, brown sugar, and lots of love.
Peach Pie with Blackberries and Ginger
Inspired by the novel Pie. Makes one 10-inch pie.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger chips
2 1/2 sticks butter, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water
6 ripe peaches
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
Whirl flour, powdered sugar, salt, and ginger chips in food processor with the blade attachment until the ginger pieces are finely chopped. Add slices from one stick of butter and whirl until no chunks remain. Add remaining slices and whirl briefly to chop them up slightly. Turn food processor on again and quickly begin drizzling ice water through the feed tube, stopping before the dough comes together. Pinch some crumbs together between your fingers; if they don’t stick together, add a bit more water and whirl briefly. Turn the mixture out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to help you bring the dough together; fold the edges of the dough toward the center and press down until it holds together, taking care not to overwork the dough. Divide it in half and shape into two flat disks wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.
While the dough chills, preheat oven to 450° F. Bring a large pot of water to boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Using a small paring knife, slice an X into the bottom of each peach. Submerge peaches completely in boiling water for about 40 seconds (you may need up to 60 seconds depending on the ripeness of the peaches). Transfer peaches to the bowl of ice water and until cool enough to handle. Remove peaches one at a time and peel skin away gently with your fingers. Halve peaches, remove pits, and trim into 1/4-inch slices. Combine peaches with sugars, tapioca, salt, crystallized ginger, and cinnamon. If using fresh blackberries, toss them in and mix. If using frozen berries, add them at the last minute.
Roll out one of the dough rounds into a 13- to 14-inch circle. Transfer carefully to a 10-inch pie dish and fill bottom crust with fruit mixture. Roll out remaining round into a 13- to 14-inch circle and cut it into 1/2-to 3/4-inch strips. Lay 4 to 5 strips evenly spaced across the pie in one direction. Fold back every other strip and lay another strip crosswise right next to the folded edges. Unfold the strips to create a woven pattern, and repeat with additional strips, alternating the ones that you fold, until you make it to the opposite edge of the pie dish (this sounds way more complicated than it actually is; it’s easy once you have the strips to work with). Brush beneath each strip with cold water and seal gently by pressing down on the edge with the bottom of a fork. Trim overhanging dough with a knife and flute the edge with your fingers, if desired.
Place pie on a baking sheet to catch overflowing juices. Bake for 10 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350° F. Continue baking for 45-60 minutes, until juices bubble thickly and the fruit feels just tender when poked with a sharp knife. Allow to cool for several hours before serving.