This is a favorite pie from my New Hampshire days, when I used to make it with handpicked blackberries and, when I could get my hands on them, Reliance peaches, a delicious cold-hardy peach developed by Dr. Elwyn Meader of Rochester, New Hampshire. It’s a very thick summer pie with so much fruit that I bake it in one of my extra-deep-dish pie pans. (You can bake it in a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pan, but you’ll have to reduce the amount of fruit to about 6 1/2 cups.) The combination of peaches and blackberries in a flaky double crust is hard to beat.
Game plan: Peaches can be peeled by hand, with a sharp pairing knife, but here we use another method: blanching them. Blanching really takes no longer than peeling by hand and the upside is you don’t lose any of the precious sweet flesh that you’re bound to cut off when using a knife.
- Yields: 8 to 10 servings
- Difficulty: Medium
- 1 recipe Basic Flaky Pie Pastry, Double Crust, refrigerated
For the filling:
- 6 to 8 small to medium-size ripe peaches
- 4 cups fresh or individually frozen blackberries (not packed in syrup), partially thawed
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the glaze:
- Milk or light cream
- If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
- While the pastry chills, blanch the peaches. After you slip off the skins, slice the peaches into a large measuring cup; you’ll need 4 cups. (Reserve any remaining peaches for another use.) Combine the sliced peaches, blackberries, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Toss well to combine and set aside for 15 minutes.
- On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the larger portion of the pastry into a 13 1/2-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2- to 10-inch extra-deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and let the overhang drape over the edge. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with the cornstarch. Stir the mixture into the fruit along with the nutmeg, lemon juice and lemon zest. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- On another sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the other half of the pastry into an 11 1/2-inch circle. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell. Smooth the fruit with a spoon and dot with the butter. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell. Invert the top pastry over the filling, center, and peel off the paper. Press the top and bottom pastries together along the dampened edge. Trim the pastry with scissors or a pairing knife, leaving an even 1/2-inch overhang all around, then sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge. Poke several steam vents in the top of the pie with a fork or pairing knife. Put a couple of the vents near the edge of the crust so you can check the juices there later. To glaze the pie, lightly brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
- Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and rotate the pie 180 degrees, so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any drips. Continue to bake until the juices bubble thickly at the steam vents and the top is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. If the top starts to get too dark, cover it with loosely tented aluminum foil during the last 15 minutes.
- Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
Excerpted from Pie, by Ken Haedrich. © 2004, used by permission from The Harvard Common Press.