Friday, August 23, 2013

Peach Pie

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.

~ Mark Twain

I am going to keep this one short and sweet - this is the best pie I have ever made.  And there were two things that made it possible.

The peaches of course.

And vodka.

The vodka is the key to a fantastic flaky crust.   This is another great find by Christopher Kimball and the folks at America's Test Kitchen. One potential problem when making pie crust is that you need to use a fair amount of liquid, typically water, to ensure that you do not have a dry pie crust that won't roll out easily.  However too much water can ruin the tenderness and texture of the crust when baked.  Using equal amounts of vodka and water as your liquid offers two advantages.  First, vodka itself imparts no flavor to the crust.  More importantly though, vodka is 40% alcohol, which evaporates when the crust is baked in the oven.  This means that you can have plenty of liquids to keep your dough moist and easy to roll out, but when the crust is baked, the alcohol portion of the liquid evaporates, leaving behind the perfect amount of liquid for a nice flaky crust.

According to America's Test Kitchen, another key to a good pie crust is the technique used to combine the flour and the fat (in this case, cf butter).   By combining a portion of the flour with all of the cf butter to form a paste, and then adding in the remaining flour until just combined, you are virtually assured of getting the same size cf butter pieces in your dough each time, and a more consistent crust. 

While the crust is based on this recipe from America's Test Kitchen (be warned, you may need a subscription to view), the filling is based on this recipe by Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen.  What I love about this filling is that it is not overwhelmed by sugar - the peaches really stand out. 

This pie was really amazing.  I hope you give this a try.  You will not be disappointed.

adapted from a recipe by America's Best Kitchen

Ingredients (makes one double crust pie)

You need 12 1/2 ounces of GF flour for this recipe.  I used:

  • 4 ounces sorghum flour
  • 4 ounces brown rice flour
  • 3 ounces tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 ounces potato starch
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
16 tbsp (2 sticks) cf butter (I used Earthbalance Buttery sticks)
1/4 cup vodka, cold
1/4 cup water, cold

Combine all the flours and the xanthan gum in a mixing bowl.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour mixture, the salt, and the sugar to a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the cf butter and process until a paste is formed.  Add the remaining flour and pulse until just combined.  Place the mixture into a mixing bowl.

Sprinkle the vodka and water over the mixture.  Using a spatula, mix using a folding motion until the dough is tacky and sticks together.  Divide the dough in half and form each half into a 1-inch thick disk.  Cover each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen


5 to 6 large peaches, peeled and sliced into 1/4 in slices (you want about 6 cups sliced peaches)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (your preference as to light or dark; I used dark)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp tapioca flour or potato starch

Mix the peaches and lemon juice together in a mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients, making sure there are no lumps.  Add the dry ingredients to the peaches and mix until thoroughly combined.

Make the Pie

Preheat the oven to 425°.  Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.

Generously flour a board or your counter with gf flour (I usually use brown rice flour).  Remove the larger of the two dough disks from the fridge. Place on the board and generously flour the top.  Roll out the dough into a 12-inch to 13-inch circle.  Using your rolling pin, roll up the dough and lay it over the pie pan.  Gently adjust the dough until it fits snugly into your pie pan, with at least a 1-inch overhang.

Spoon the filling into the pie pan.  Do not overfill.

Using the same technique as above, roll out the second dough disk into a 10-inch circle.  At this point you can either roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and lay it over the filling for a covered crust, or cut the dough into 1-inch strips and make a lattice crust.  If you make a covered pie, make sure to cut several 'x's in the top of the crust to let steam escape.  Crimp the edges together using your favorite technique (I chose to press down on the edges with a fork) and remove any excess dough.  brush the top of the pie with cf milk (I used coconut milk)

Place the pie on a cookie sheet covered with foil to collect any juices that may leak from the pie.  Bake at 425° for 20  minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°, rotate the pie 180°, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for at least 3 hours before serving.  This will allow the juices to thicken and make the pie less runny.  For even thicker juices, place the pie in the refrigerator.

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