When Peaches aren't Peachy

I’ll admit I have been underwhelmed by this year’s peaches. (The nectarines and plums, on the other hand, are incredible right now.) Maybe I’ve just had bad luck, but letting summer close without having had my fill of furry chin-dripping fruit did not seem like an option. So, I bought a four-pound bag, all of which were too hard and ornery to bother eating raw, and cajoled and tickled them until they succumbed -- finally offering smiles, good humor and yes, juicy goodness. In other words, I made a pie.

Spicy Peach Pie

8 cups peeled, sliced firm peaches (about 10 peaches or 4 lbs)

2 cups brown sugar (not packed)

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground cayenne

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 ½ tsp ground clove

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

Your favorite pie crust recipe, such as the one below based on one in Joy of Cooking. (Don’t believe recipes that say they make 4 crusts; unless you are an overly-ambitious roller, they usually make 2, with the obligatory generous lattice.)

Cream or milk for brushing atop crust

Preheat over to 375ºF. Mix dry goods in small bowl. Add to peaches and stir thoroughly. Add vanilla, stir again. Roll out half of the pie crust and place on the bottom of deep pie pan (ungreased). Fill with peach mixture. Roll out top pie crust, place over peaches and seal edges with lattice folding, using fingers or spoon to bevel edges. Slit holes in crust to let out steam. Brush with cream or milk. Bake 90 minutes until golden brown and juices are bubbling through the crust. Allow to cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing. Top with ice cream and you may just find yourself tickled peach.

Double Pie Crust (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

13 Tbs chilled butter, sliced

4-5 Tbs water

Combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or fingers, work in half of butter until mixture resembles corn meal. Work the second half of butter into the dough until it is pea-sized. Sprinkle dough with water and form a ball. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling. I like to save myself a mess and roll between layers of wax paper.

picture by David Kay via Dreamstime

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