I love baking cakes and especially bread. But pie and tart-baking are what I am probably best at. And I love it.
Being French, when my love affair with baking began, I felt I certainly had to master pastry. And fortunately, I discovered it was something I am good at!
My signature Chocolate & Baileys tart often comes out at dinner parties and always goes quickly and appreciatively.
But I have a real fondness in my heart for peach pie. It is quite probably my favourite dessert of all time. I look forward to the summer when peaches are in season again, and I can buy punnet upon punnet to store, make jam with, bake pies with, or just eat fresh out of the fruit basket.
A couple of years ago, I finally found the perfect, classic peach pie recipe on my favourite food blog, Smitten Kitchen (the recipe also contains my favourite flaky pie dough). I have made the recipe again and again, and could happily eat nothing but that for the rest of my life. Deb rightly defends the ‘classic-ness’ of the peach pie, and the need to keep it simple and not mess with it.
So what did I do?
I messed with it.
I agree with her that there is still nothing quite so beautifully lovely as a classic peach pie, but this is a very close second!
In the month of August, something wonderful happens: the season for peaches and the season for blackberries overlaps. As the bushes by our flat started dripping with the sweet heady scent of ripe blackberries, I got out my wellies and covered my arms to avoid scratches, and turned my fingers purple with the juice of 1.5kg of blackberries picked fresh from the bush.
After adding vanilla and lemon to a gorgeous blackberry jam that hinted at the not-so-distant promise of autumn, and making the obligatory blackberry and apple crumble with custard for my husband, I was left with several ice cream tubs full of blackberries, and, inspired by The Great British Bake Off’s “Pie & Tarts week”, turned my hand to what I do best: pastry.
I hope that you will agree. And if you don’t have blackberries? Then quickly grab the last of the peaches this season and make Smitten Kitchen’s classic peach pie before you have to wait another year!
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Peach Pie recipe
For the dough:
2 1/2 cups (315g) plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (225g) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into little pieces
1/2 cup (120ml) ice-cold water
For the filling:
1 cup (150g) blueberries (optional)
2 cups (300g) blackberries (or 3 cups/450g if not using blueberries)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar (or more light brown sugar)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg or mixed spice
3 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp caster sugar to finish
2. Separate the dough into two balls, flatten into a disc shape and wrap them both in cling film. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 mins.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and prepare an ice bath (one larger bowl with ice cubes/ice-cold water in it with a smaller bowl placed over the ice) for the peaches. Cut an X on the bottom of your peaches, then place them into the boiling water and poach for 2-3 mins. Transfer to ice bath to cool, then peel (the skins should come off really easily). Pit the peaches, then cut each half into about 8 slices. These should fill about 3 cups.
4. Preheat oven to 180C. Mix peach slices with lemon juice, blueberries, blackberries, sugars, spices and cornflour.
5. Roll out one of the discs of dough and fill a pie dish with it, trimming the overhang so there it is down to only a few cm. Spoon filling into the pastry case, then roll out the second disc and place over the top of the pie, sealing the edges. Alternatively, after rolling out the second disc of dough, cut into strips to do a lattice top (you can find a useful diagram on how to do this here). Trim any overhang and seal/crimp to neaten the pie.
6. Brush pie with milk and sprinkle with the sugar, then bake for 20 mins, then reduce heat to 160C and bake for another 15-20 mins, until the crust is golden and filling is bubbling.
7. Allow the pie to cool in order for the filling to thicken. Deb recommends 3 hours, but we can never wait that long – if the filling isn’t too runny, feel free to tuck in earlier (nothing like a lovely warm pie with a bit of ice cream or cream!).