Sunday, July 25, 2010

Peach Pie

Alrighty kids, this next post is not for the faint of heart. I've been inspired by the beautiful fruit at the Union Square market, as well as by my budding courage on the yoga mat. What's up my sleeve, you ask? A homemade peach pie...from scratch. I know what you're thinking; "Chrissy, we love you but you're crazy. Thanks but no thanks." It's the same response I get when I ask you to do a handstand (or, for those of you seasoned handstanders, the pangs of fear and disbelief that follow my request to hop up in the center of the room). Be brave, you can do it! My confidence comes from my complete and utter lack of experience in the pastry department, so as a fellow novice I can tell you first hand that A) it's fun to delve into something you never thought you could do and B) if you screw it up, you can always buy the pre-made pie dough from Pillsbury (or, a pre-made pie).

I'm not sure what prompted me to start making my own pastry dough, but I think I just got tired of playing if safe. I'm noticing the same thing in my yoga practice. I've been exploring inversions in the center of the room, dropping over backwards (by accident and on purpose) and generally sticking myself in situations that scare the bujezus out of me. It's exhilarating.

So here's what you need:

-a brazen attitude and complete detachment from the results
-a food processor (if you're waiting for a "special day" to buy one, then buying one is most definitely part of this practice)
-a rolling pin
-a pie dish
-peaches (6-8)

My advice is to move all of the necessary supplies to a table so you can sprawl out. The key to all of this is to be organized and yet relaxed. It's the abhyasa (diligent practice) and vairagya (letting go) of baking.

So let's do this! Rule number one: don't panic. Rule number two: keep your ingredients cold and your oven hot.

1) Cut 2 sticks of butter into small cubes. Place in a bowl and stick it in the freezer about 10-15 minutes before you're ready to start. Drop some ice cubes in a cup of water; you'll need that water later.

2) 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 t sugar and 1 t salt go into the food processor.

3) Add the cubed butter to the food processor and pulse for 8-10 seconds. You want to break up the butter into pea-size pieces.

4) Ice water at the ready, turn the food processor on and slowly pour in between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. You'll start to see the water pull the flour into a dough. This takes about 30 seconds. Don't panic and over mix. While it may look like a mess, just trust me...the heat from your hands will give it shape and you don't want the butter to fully dissolve into the dough. Those little bursts of fat are what make the crust crispy, and we definitely want crispy.

5) Scoop out your dough and separate it into two round balls. Wrap each in plastic and put them in the fridge. (If all else fails, just keep putting things in the fridge.)

6) Now you wait. That dough needs to rest in there for 20 minutes or so. Here's what you can do in the meantime: preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peal and cut your peaches, adding 1/4 flour and 1/2 cup of sugar. (Note: The flour helps to soak up the juices, so if you're dealing with especially juicy peaches, you can experiment with adding more flour. Same goes for the sugar. If your peaches are ripe and sweet, you can add less sugar.) I know it's not specific, but remember, making a pie from scratch is a ridiculous said it yourself. Whip out that brazen attitude and work it out.

7) Flour your working surface and your rolling pin. Roll out just one of the dough balls. Always roll in one direction. Going back and forth will get you into trouble. Just keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure that it rolls into some semblance of a circle (double-checking that it doesn't stick to the board). Re-flour as necessary. Place the dough into your pie plate and pour in your peach filling. Dot with about 2 T of butter, cut into small pieces and scattered throughout. Stick the pie back in the fridge while you grab the other dough ball and repeat the rolling process.

8) Lay the second crust over the pie and crimp the two layers together with your fingers. You can decorate the edges any way you like. I happen to love the thumb impressions, but you can also go around the edges with a fork.

9) Cut 4 inch-long slits in the top of your pie to let out the steam while it's baking. Brush the entire thing with an egg wash (code for an egg thinned out with a splash of water). This gives it a nice brown, glossy look.

10) Pop the pie in the fridge for another 10 minutes or so. Do some handstands while you wait. At this point you should be either overly confident or completely defeated, leaving you with nothing to lose. Inch yourself away from the wall and see if you can kick up without touching. When you feel yourself flipping over, reach your chest and your eyes towards the wall and try to land both feet on the wall at the same time. Once you've done a few of those, pop your pie into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes.

Like a true beginner, I have no idea what I don't know. I've heard murmurings of how humidity and temperature dictate the final results, but I can't be bothered by that right now. I'm just lucky that it tastes good, and I kind of like how "homemade" it looks. Getting over the fear is nine-tenths of the battle. You have to believe that it's possible. "Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness" (Sutra 1.14). I'm sure that time and experience will reveal a lot about the secrets of pastry and I'm excited for that journey. One thing's for sure: there'll be lots of good pies along the way!


  1. Work it out!
    I love this posting. I think i have the right amount of gusto and moxie. What I don't have--is counter space. Your risk-taking and sense of adventure is inspiring!

  2. Hey, I'm in the thick of it, but I'm glad it's inspiring! Don't let the lack of counter space stop you. I use a big cutting board as my's portable, and as long as you don't mind getting flour everywhere, you can create a workspace anywhere!

  3. You are brave- creative - smart and a woman with a mission!
    Love the post and how you tried something new!