Yesterday, I submitted pies to a local fundraiser in our community called, “Pie in the Park.” This event raises money for a new community center by throwing a pie tasting party and auctioning off donated pies. The pie tasting is free. Free pie? What’s not to like?!?! Those who donated pies were asked to bring one for tasting and one for auction. I hadn’t participated before, but I modestly (?) believe I make a pretty darn good pie, so off I went to get some peaches for pie! Purchasing peaches can be an unpredictable endeavor. If the grocer keeps them too cold, they are mealy and unappetizing, but you don’t know that until you cut them open – or worse, bite them. Most of the time, they are too green, so last minute shopping can prove to be disappointing. Luckily, I was able to get some good peaches a few days ahead and only one was bad when I cut it open. >whew!< I decided to kick it up a notch by adding crystallized ginger to the pie mixture – which turned out to be a good choice! There were quite a few pies at the auction – tons of apple, pumpkin, berry – but only 2 peach/ginger concoctions. One was mine and the other from a professional baker. I don’t recall what the other one went for, but I was pleased to see that mine was sold for $80 – the winner out-bid my husband for the honor!
The Pie Crust Last winter, I found a new pie crust recipe in Better Homes & Gardens magazine that I fell in love with. It makes a goodly amount of dough – enough for 3 deep dish single crust pies, or, for my needs, 2 smaller sized (9 inch) pies. The recipe calls for sour cream, real butter and vinegar – among other things! – and is refrigerated before rolling out. It has a small amount of sugar in the recipe and I used extra-fine baker’s sugar in which I have stored a vanilla bean. This gives the sugar a mild vanilla flavor and is actually how “vanilla powder” is made. As a finishing touch on my pies, I brush them with milk and sprinkle sugar on them to give them a shiny, crisp crust. I also like to use tiny cookie cutters to decorate my pies instead of the usual slashes. This crust recipe bakes up really flaky so the cut-outs look almost like puff pastry after baking.
The Filling I sliced the peaches fairly thin, tossed them with lemon juice and added some nutmeg and the vanilla sugar mentioned before. This takes a while because peaches are so slippery to peel! I know there is a way to quickly blanch them so that their skins slip right off, but I just didn’t want to go there on a warm summer day! I have found that when peaches are “just right” the skins will peel off nicely when I start at the stem end with hardly any “peach gouging.” To fill two 9 inch pie plates, I used 8 medium sized peaches. The ginger bits were not added in with the rest of the filling, but instead were sprinkled on top of the filling before putting the top crust in place. I used crystallized ginger bits for bakers by
The Ginger People. They are about the same size as chocolate chips. I think I got these at either Central Market or World Market – I’ve seen them both places.
You may click here to view/print a pdf of the recipe – including the lovely crust recipe! Here is a an up close shot of my $80 pie!