One of the realities that having a CSA drives home for me is that when a fruit or vegetable is in-season, it is abundant, readily available, fresh and full of flavor. But when that season is over, you must make your peace with it and move on. Summer is short-lived. Tomatoes are with us only briefly. Figs, even more so. And peaches? Oh, the peaches. They are a fleeting delight. And this week, I got what I feel rather confident are the last peaches of the year in my CSA.
And let me tell you something about end-of-the-season peaches: they lack the mmph they have during the middle of summer.
This week, we got four white peaches – firm, not terribly sweet white peaches. As soon as I saw them, I thought, “Pie!” So that’s what I decided to do.
But you can’t make a pie from four peaches. And I’ve been on a bit of a cranberry kick here lately. I thought, peach-berry pie, but with cranberries. I scoured the Interwebs, trying to find a recipe or some sort of guide on how I might incorporate cranberries into the pie, and I came up with very little guidance. So, I put my faith in Paula Deen, got scrappy with my own modifications, and tweaked the recipe to accommodate my cranberry craze. And all in all, it was pretty good!
Many recipe sites or cookbooks warned that using cranberries in a pie could be too tart, and therefore the berries should be macerated before baking. But that sounds like the makings of a wet, runny pie filling. So then I found a straight-up peach pie recipe from Paula Deen that called for cooking the peaches before filling the pie with them: Nita’s Secret Peach Pie. This would allow for making a syrup, which would thicken any juices released by cranberries or peaches.
Once the mixture came to a low boil, I turned the heat down, but was left with soupy, watery juices in the pan. One of the reader comments suggested treating the mixture like jam, which you would boil for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the juices thickened, on their way to soft-ball candy stage. I kicked the heat back up, the juices thickened, and we were back in business. I scooped the fruit out with a slotted spoon, spooned just a little of the juice into the crust, and baked as directed.
Let’s take a minute to talk about crust. I’ve been developing a blog crush on two peas and their pod. They have gorgeous, easy recipes, and of the three I’ve tried, two have come out just perfect, including the crust for this pie. I’ll confess: I often use store-bought crust. Who doesn’t? But sometimes, I feel like getting fancy and getting in touch with my culinary roots. Sometimes, I have a hard day at school and I come home, and I pound out pie crust, beating cold, cold butter into submission. That was the story of this pie crust, which was a great accompaniment to this pie.
Cranberry Peach Pie
recipe modified from paula deen’s “nita’s secret peach pie”
4-6 medium white peaches, peeled, cored, and sliced thickly
2 cups frozen cranberries
Juice of one lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons butter
1. Roll out one half of your pie crust to fit a 9″ pie plate. Carefully drape into the pie plate, pressing down lightly to fit, leaving a 1″ overhang. Put in the fridge while continuing preparations.
2. Combine peaches, cranberries, flour, sugars, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Stir to coat and place over high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Once it starts boiling, stir constantly so it doesn’t burn, and cook 2-5 minutes, until the juices have released and begun to thicken. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in almond extract, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Let cool a bit.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
5. Roll out second half of pie pastry. You can leave it whole and drape it over the pie, cutting slits in the top to vent. Or you can cut it into stripe and lay it down in a lattice-weave over the top.
6. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the fruit into the refrigerated pie crust. If you want a little bit of the juice to go with it, spoon it in afterwards, but remember, use a light touch. Dot with small pieces of butter.
7. Lay the second pie crust over the top, however you wish.
8. Whisk one egg with one tablespoon of water. Brush the egg-wash over the top crust, and if desired, sprinkle with sugar (I used raw sugar, but granulated is fine).
9. Put in oven and bake 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 and bake another 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool completely on a wire rack.
This Cranberry-Peach Pie is a perfect way to use end-of-season peaches. Truth be told, the pie tastes more like cranberry and almond, but there’s a light hint of peaches underneath as the peaches aren’t terribly forceful in their flavor. It’s a great fall dessert, delicious warm or chilled, and could probably do very nicely with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!
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