Saturday, October 1, 2011

Peaches and Cream Pie ~ Pie Plate Selection

With fresh peaches in abudance at local markets, I'm still taking every opportunity to enjoy this golden fruit.  This week I'm making an old favorite, peaches and cream pie.

Testing on a Ceramic Pie Plate
Good Filling, Soggy Crust
It's a dessert I've never seen or had anywhere else.  I'm not sure where I found the recipe, but I've had it in my database for years.  I make it annually and it never fails to impress.  Peaches go perfectly with cream, and in this recipe you include both in the pie.  You'll note the recipe has no eggs in the cream.  If you add eggs you end up with custard and this is not the taste you are expecting when you hear 'peaches and cream'.  Of course, you can cut fresh peaches into a bowl and top with some sweetened heavy cream, and that too will be delightful.  But if you want a pie that replicates this seasonal delicacy, try this recipe.  You'll find yourself making it every year.

Oven Proof Glass Pie Plate
on a Pre-Heated Cookie Sheet
Bottom Rack
Pie Plates:  The type of pie plate you use really can make a difference, especially if a crisp, flaky crust is important.  I've tested metal, glass and ceramic and of the three the glass pie plate (Pyrex or Anchor Hocking type) outperform all others.  Of course, for certain recipes the type of pie plate is of lesser importance.  For example, if you are making a cream pie where the crust is baked without filling, a ceramic plate will work just fine.  But when making a filled fruit pie, the oven-proof glass plate works best.  Even then, I recommend sitting it on a hot cookie sheet, on the bottom rack, to ensure the crust cooks adqequately and you are not left with a soggy bottom crust.  In this recipe I take the extra step of partially pre-baking the crust to ensure the cream doesn't render the crust soggy.  If you only have room for one set of pie plates, go with the oven-proof glass.  While the ceramic may look showy, in the end your pie will be judged by the quality of its crust and nothing will work better for you than the oven-proof glass pie plate.

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1 9 inch  pie crust
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk (or water)

6-8 peaches -- about 2 pounds, for a deep dish pie pan
3/4 cup  sugar
1/4 cup  flour
1 tablespoon  cornstarch
1 cup  heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1/2 lemon -- juiced
2 tablespoons  butter -- sliced
1 teaspoon  cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 with a cookie sheet inside on lowest rack.

Make a pie crust using your usual recipe.  Place the crust in a pie plate (glass preferred), and prick with a fork on bottom and sides. Line with parchment paper and add pie weights. If doing two pies do this one at a time using all of the weights in a single pie to prevent the crust from slipping down the sides of the pie plate.   Pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and remove paper and weights.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Lightly beat the egg with the milk or water.  Paint the crust with a milk and egg mixture and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.  These steps help to crisp and seal the crust.  While the original recipe called for using an unbaked crust, I found no way to stop it from becoming soggy.  This technique solves that problem.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Immerse peaches for 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on ripeness of the peaches (the more ripe, the shorter the time); remove with a slotted spoon.  Let cool briefly in an ice-water bath, then slip off the peach skins with your hands. If they will not come off use a potatoe pealer or knife to remove them.  Pit and slice the peaches into a large mixing bowl.

Sprinkle peaches with a dash of salt and a juice from one-half  lemon.  Let stand in a bowl for 10 minutes to determine how juicy the peaches are.  If a large quantity of juice is produced, drain before adding to pie shell and add cornstarch. If the peaches are not sweet, add some sugar.

Mix together sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt.  When well mixed, stir in the heavy cream.  Place the peaches in the pre-baked pie shell and pour the cream mixture over peaches.  Dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Place the pie on the hot cookie sheet and bake at 425F for 15 minutes on the lower rack of the oven, then reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake 60 minutes longer, until filling begins to set.

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Remove from oven and cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  This pie is best served the day it is made as the cream and peach juice will make the crust wet if stored for a longer time.

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