Thursday, August 4, 2011

Peach and Blueberry Lattice Pie

If I could, I would make cheesecake the quintessential American dessert. Maybe then it would finally garner the attention it so deserves and people would stop making these things called "no-bake cheesecakes," which irritate me to no end. (I'll spare you the rant about a no-bake "cheesecake" not being a cheesecake at all, because pretty soon I'd begin to rant about other terminology that irks me, like "easy peasy." But I digress.)

As it is, it doesn't look like pie, which is firmly ground in its place as the all-American dessert, is going anywhere soon. And to be honest, I've never really understood the lure of pie much anyway. I'm much more of a slice-of-cake or rustic fruit dessert type of girl anyway. Pie is good, no doubt, but it doesn't conjure the same cravings as a slice of dense, frosting-topped cake or warm, bubbly fall fruit crumble. Like I said, I've never understood what was so great about pie.

Until now.

Indeed, I realize now more than ever that my apathy toward pie was likely just mischanneled fear of it. As much as I like to think of myself as an accomplished baker, I'd yet to truly master pie dough, the thing that makes pie so unique, so tasty, for nothing quite comes close to its alluring and fleeting combination of flakiness and tenderness. I believe I once said that I hated it. That was over a year ago, and since then my only attempt at pie dough was the day before Thanksgiving. Note to self: don't haphazardly make pie dough when you are simultaneously juggling cranberry sauces, pumpkin cheesecake, rum raisin bread pudding, and homemade ice cream. It's just not a good idea.
Forming a lattice top crust is a bit of extra work but oh so worth it when the finished pie emerges gloriously from the oven. 

Because pie should not be stressful. Quite the opposite really. It strikes me as such an organic thing: cutting the butter into the flour, rolling it into a misshapen circle, pouring in a sweet filling, and then whisking it out of the oven bubbling hot. It's a very Rockwellesque picture, and certainly no one seventy-five years ago was stressing out about pie. Yet nearly every recipe I've ever seen for pie dough comprises everything I avoid in recipes for baked goods: ranges of ingredients, warnings about temperamental ingredients, and vague descriptions of steps. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I found a recipe that took away all that balderdash (sorry, currently just finished reading HP4 and subconsciously wrote this word, one of the Gryffindor house passwords) and replaced it with something I can get behind: reason and science. Created by a former recipe developer for Cook's Illustrated (he is actually the person who developed the now-famous vodka pie crust recipe), this pie dough is quite unconventional in its technique, but what results is a dough that I'm confident will work for me whenever I decide to make pie, which will be a lot more often than the current one-a-year quota I currently have going.
Beautiful, delicious fresh summer peaches and blueberries: hardly anything else is needed. 

This time, I decided to highlight fresh summer peaches, which have been achingly good this season, with marble-sized blueberries, all nestled comfortably under a lattice crust. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't (vocally) admiring my work as it emerged from the oven, the crust tanned golden brown, the sweet fruit bubbling, and the scent of butter mixing with sugar filling the kitchen. It was, quite simply, the most beautiful thing I'd ever created.

Oh, and it tasted pretty fantastic, too.

Peach and Blueberry Lattice Pie
Crust adapted from Serious Eats, filling inspired by Martha Stewart's Cooking School

It's important to use a scale when measuring the flour in the crust. If your peaches are very ripe, simply peel them with a paring knife. Otherwise, cut an "X" into the bottom of each peach and put them in a pot of boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, until the skins start to blister and peel away from the flesh. Remove them from the water, place in a bowl of ice water, and, once cool, peel the skins. Taste your fruit before you add sugar to it. My fruit was very sweet, so I added a scant 1/2 cup of sugar. You may need to add up to 3/4 cup sugar. The cinnamon in the filling is optional and lends a very subtle warmth to the finished pie. A bit of ginger would be delicious in its place, too.

Yield: 1 9-inch pie, or about 8 servings

For the crust:
12.5 ounces all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
7 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:
2 1/4 pounds peaches (about 4 large), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1/2 pound blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2-3/4 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 egg, beaten

To make the pie dough, combine 8 ounces of the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse twice to incorporate. Scatter butter pieces evenly over the surface and pulse until no dry flour remains and the dough just begins to collect into clumps, about 25 short pulses. Sprinkle the remaining 4.5 ounces of flour over the butter/flour mixture and pulse just until the dough is broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer the dough to a large bowl.

Sprinkle the dough with water and, using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Divide the ball in half. Wrap each half of dough in plastic and form into a 1-inch tall disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or freeze for 15 to 30 minutes before rolling.

Once dough is thoroughly chilled, flour your surface and rolling pin liberally with flour. Roll out the first disk, turning often and reflouring your surface and rolling pin as necessary. Once the dough has reached a diameter of about 12 inches, carefully lift it over a 9-inch glass pie pan. Ease it into the pie pan, being careful not to stretch it too much. Transfer the pie dish to a foil-lined baking sheet and refrigerate.

Roll out the second disk of dough just as the first. Once it reaches a diameter of 12 inches, carefully lift it to a foil-lined baking sheet. Using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or knife, cut it into 1 inch-wide strips. Refrigerate the strips until ready to use.

To make the peach and blueberry filling, combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well. If the fruit is producing a lot of juice, you can transfer some of this juice to a small saucepan set over medium-low heat and reduce it for a few minutes (it will thicken some). Allow to cool and add back to the fruit.

To bake the pie, set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Pour the fruit filling into the unbaked pie shell. Place 4 lattice strips on the pie. Pull back the first and third strips halfway and place a long strip over them in the middle of the pie, at a 90-degree angle. Unfold the first and third lattice strips. Next pull back the second and fourth strips halfway and place another long strip over them, next to the first perpendicular strip. Unfold the second and fourth strips. Repeat twice more on the other half of the pie, once with the first and third strips and once with the second and fourth strips. For detailed instructions with pictures, you can visit this tutorial.

Once the lattice is formed, trim the bottom crust and lattice so that each has a 1-inch overhang. Pinch the two crusts together and, if desired, crimp. Brush the top crust of the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.

Put the pie, still situated on a foil-lined baking sheet, into the oven. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue baking for about 65 more minutes, until the bottom and top crusts are golden and the fruit is bubbling. Tent the pie with foil if it is browning too quickly.

Transfer the pie to a rack to cool completely, at least 4 hours or overnight. Pie can be made a day ahead. Store pie at room temperature before serving. Leftovers will keep covered loosely in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days.


  1. gorgeous, sara!! i love eating pies :) - usually creamy, chocolate filled ones, but those peaches look divine; i can only imagine how good it tastes!

  2. beautiful and delicious! (I can't wait for apples and pears!)

  3. i'll do my best NOT to lick the screen! truly it was one of the most delicious things i've eaten. vodka pie crust-now that's intersting.

  4. Beautiful! Peach and blueberries is one my favorite combinations ever. And I'm kind of similar to you-- my favorite dessert is dense and creamy cheesecake. Haha, and I totally agree with you on bastardized versions of things like "no-bake cheesecake".

    Lovvve Cook's Illustrated. I am dying to try their vodka pie crust but my family never has vodka around. >:(

  5. You made this?! Wow! And you made it when I wasn't home - super jealous! It's really beautiful!