Updated: Jan 25, 2022
Fruit pie for dessert is a very American way to end a summer dinner, and you are going to love my southern twist on peach pie. It's fruity, juicy, and sweet with a tiny note of lemon tartness in the filling. It's an amazing combination of perfectly balanced flavors and will melt in your mouth with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pie is a little bit more work than cobbler, but it's well worth it. I love pie, my husband loves pie, and my boys love pie. Someday I'll share with you the story of the first time I made American pie, but today it’s all about the best peach pie full of southern flavor. I know it's crazy for someone who isn't originally from the Lowcountry, or even the US, to claim their pie is “the best" southern peach pie, but I'm not shy and am incredibly happy with my result. After seven years of living in the South and having tasted dozens of locally-made peach pies and cobblers, I have to say that this peach pie is the only peach pie you'll want to make from now on.
Many fruit pies have the same problem: the juice in the filling is very thin so when you try to cut it, it makes the crust soggy. Nobody likes soggy crust, right? I promise you will not have that issue with this pie! This nutty-buttery crust with NO ADDED Crisco or other harmful ingredients pairs beautifully with the peach filling, and the crunch will satisfy any picky pie eater.
Now, let's talk a little more about the ingredients, shall we? The more produce travels, the more its nutritional value decreases. As you know, I'm a big believer in eating as much seasonal and locally grown food as possible. Not only is it so much better for you, the taste is better too. Good, ripe peaches full of maximum flavor are not easy to find in a regular grocery store. I'm fortunate to live right across the border from Georgia because Georgia’s peaches are famous for their unbelievable flavor.
How to choose the best peaches?
There are a couple ways to tell if a peach is ripe and at the ideal sweetness for making pie. I've had my hand swatted more than once at a farmer’s market for squeezing the peaches. While it's true that pressing a peach gently to see if its flesh gives is one way to tell how ripe the fruit is, I usually like to rely on smell. If it's fragrant, it's perfect. Peaches ripen at room temperature in two to three days; refrigerated, they remain slightly unripe for about two weeks without lessening terribly in quality. Farmers almost never sell ripe peaches to vendors because they bruise easily.
When it comes to adding additional flavors, I strongly believe that what grows together goes together. God made it this way. That's why I decided to pair this wonderful peach flavor with the ginger that grows here locally. I also decided to take advantage of some locally grown nuts. And as much as I like the classic combo of almonds and peaches together, I chose to use ground pecans instead. Did it work? Oh yes. I absolutely love the richness and sweetness of pecans, and they grow in such abundance in the area that locals can pick them up off the sidewalk.
To Peel or Not to Peel?
The question is always: Should I peel peaches for the pie or not? I recommend peeling them. Unfortunately, peaches are extremely high in pesticides, and for that reason, I like to peel them. Besides, there is almost nothing shinier or more beautiful than a just-peeled peach. To peel them with ease, bring a large pot of water to a boil and set up an ice bath nearby. Make a shallow X in the bottom of each peach with a paring knife. Drop the peaches, a few at the time, into the water and let them stay there for up to one minute. Be careful not to cook them, but make sure the skin starts to split and peel away from the flesh. Remove them from the boiling water and drop them into the ice bath. Peel them using the X as a guide.
Let's do it...
Prep time: 40 minutes Cook time: 50 minutes Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes Author: Inna of innichkachef.com Servings: 8 generous portions
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup ice water, plus droplets if needed
6 cups peeled and chopped peaches (about 10 small peaches or 6 large ones)
Peaches come in clingstone or freestone varieties. Clingstones are a pain to work with because the flesh clings to the pit. Freestone pits separate easily from the flesh and are much easier to work with.
Depending on how ripe your peaches are, the amount of cornstarch you need will vary. If the peaches are very juicy, increase from ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon up to ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
1. Measure the flour into a mixing bowl. Add salt, ground pecans then whisk all together. 2. Add cold, cubed butter and work it in with your fingers or a dough cutter until the mixture forms tiny beady lumps. 3. Pour in the cold water and begin to knead and squeeze the dough with your hands until it all comes together in a stiff mass – add a few drops of water if it is too stiff and dry to work with. Knead and press it into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 4. To make the filling, peel and chop the peaches. Set up a colander on top of a bowl, then add chopped peaches, sugar, and lemon juice to the colander, mix together, and let it sit for 5–10 minutes to collect all the juices. 5. Roll the dough using plastic wrap to prevent stickiness.
6. Add minced ginger, cinnamon, and cornstarch to the peaches, and mix it all together. 7. Egg wash the bottom of the crust (I didn't do it in the video, but I recommend not skipping this step). Pour the peach mixture into the pie shell, and add pieces of butter to the pie filling. 8. To make a lattice crust, roll the rest of the dough and cut into strips. Place them on top of the pie. 9. Brush with lightly beaten egg, then bake at 400F for 20 minutes, then 350F for another 30-35 minutes. 10. Let cool 45 minutes before you slice and serve. Patience is important!
The dough may be made ahead of time and refrigerated for several days, or it may be frozen.
This super easy crust also works well for pumpkin and squash pie. The color will be slightly brown due to the pecans; it almost looks like it is made from whole wheat flour. But don't let the color fool you! The flavor is extraordinarily rich and buttery with a great nutty hint. You don't have to egg wash the bottom of the crust before pouring the peach filling, but I heartily recommend it.