A long-awaited slice of sunshine saved for a bleak winter day…
I’ve told you already how I feel about pie. And this is one pie I have been looking forward to for a long time. To be specific, I’ve anticipated this particular pie since summer’s peaches were so swollen with delicious sweetness, they couldn’t help but puddle where they sat.
I didn’t do much preserving last summer, and boy do I regret it. My pantry isn’t without a few treasures, but homemade fast food isn’t such a snap this winter. One thing I did do is put up a few peak-of-summer fruit fillings to lift my spirits during the trudge of winter.
I figured this week qualified for a special treat since A. it was my birthday, and B. it’s pretty frigid & bleak.
Nothing exceptional in the bleak department, but full-on winter trudgery. Frozen hoses, troughs and waterers, extra steps to everything; keeping engines running, more food needing to be hauled to hungrier mouths and generally more discomfort and inconvenience for all of us.
So, I pulled this bag of golden goodness – pie filling from peak-of-perfection New Haven peaches – from the freezer and whipped up an all butter crust to be ready to roll & bake when I got in from work & chores last night.
Precious New Haven peaches in a ready-to-go pie filling. Frozen in quart bags for winter existential crises…
The filling is part of an ongoing evolution of preserving the perfect pie filling and I was pretty excited to try it. What’s the perfect filling? To me, when it’s fruit, the goal is always to keep it true to that moment of perfect juicy maturity. That fleeting, flavorful moment just before things turn flabby and flat. You know, kind of like turning 50.
The preserving method has to support the fruit flavor, not alter or overwhelm it and absolutely, positively, under no circumstances(!!!) can it be gummy, lumpy, gelled, goopy or tapioca-ey. Yet, the filling must still thicken enough to stay in the crust and form proper slices.
I know. A lot to ask. I’ve cobbled together a few steps that I’m generally satisfied with, but for this batch I added something new. Pectin. Which, ordinarily I avoid, but since I’m all about not knocking what I haven’t tried, I felt needed to be tried. I got my inspiration from this Cook’s Illustrated post if you’d care to check it out.
Perfect texture + flavor of fresh peaches and a tiny hint of cinnamon. One pie is not nearly enough…
Success. The filling for this one is perfection. It tastes exactly like ripe New Haven peaches with just a hint of cinnamon. The filling had no gel, but the juice firmed up perfectly and since it was simply the actual juice from the actual peaches, adding nothing weird to either flavor or texture.
If there’s one small fly in my ointment, it’s that I went overboard on the crust/filling ratio. Since the amount of filling was a little short of my preferred 4 – 5 cups, and I went big on the crust edges and lattice, it was a bit too crusty. Which crust-lover that I am, I did not believe possible. But, there you go. It is.
Did not think it was possible to have too much crust, but it is. Back to the drawing board for the perfect crust:filling ratio. No problem, I know just what to do with extra crust.
And, true confession, I fell asleep while it was baking and overbaked by I have no idea how long. Somewhere just before burning, thank goodness. This being the only batch of peach I made this summer, there will be no redo, experiments or tweaks, alas.
I’ve said it before, (quoted from poet George Herbert actually), and I’ll probably say it again, but “Every mile is two in winter”. It’s true, but yesterday, an over baked, too crusty, perfectly juicy peach pie cheered me up and gave me hope.