Add ‘crumb’ to a peach pie and watch the smiles

No one can re­sist crunchy-chewy morsels top­ping juicy sea­sonal fruit

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - CULI­NARY IN­STI­TUTE OF AMER­ICA

Peel­ing peaches is the pits.

And if you’re like us, you end up eat­ing your weight in fresh peaches (ideally over the sink, with juice run­ning down your arms) be­fore you ever work up the mo­ti­va­tion to cook or bake with them.

But once you go through the ef­fort of boil­ing the wa­ter, blanch­ing your peaches, and peel­ing them to re­veal the jewel-toned flesh, you re­mem­ber that it re­ally only takes 10 min­utes and wasn’t so bad af­ter all.

Clas­sic peach pies rank high among top sum­mer treats, but in gen­eral, the best way to make some­one even more ex­cited about a fruit pie is to add the word “crumb” to the name.

There’s some­thing about those sweet, crunchy-chewy morsels of streusel-y good­ness that no one can re­sist. This ver­sion sticks to the clas­sic flavour of cin­na­mon, but for a sub­tle, unique vari­a­tion, try re­plac­ing it with ground car­damom.

What’s even bet­ter is that a crumb top­ping means only one pie crust to roll out. Lin­ing the pie plate be­fore you peel the peaches gives it some time to rest in the re­frig­er­a­tor, which will help pre­vent shrink­ing.

Culi­nary In­sti­tute of Amer­ica chef Genevieve Meli ad­vises se­lect­ing fruit with a “sweet, ripe aroma” which should be “plump and firm but not hard, and free of bruises.” Once boiled, the skin will peel off ef­fort­lessly.

If you’re lucky enough to find ripe free­stone peaches, snatch them up. Oth­er­wise, slic­ing peaches from the pits can be tough.

The eas­i­est way is to cut the peach into four seg­ments, around the pit. Then slice those seg­ments.

You can use a par­ing knife to trim any re­main­ing flesh from around the pit, or just gnaw it off like the rest of us.

Work­ing with fresh fruit al­ways means some vari­abil­ity in the con­sis­tency of your fill­ing, and peach pies are es­pe­cially no­to­ri­ous for runny in­nards. With enough time to cool, this pie should thicken enough to slice and serve.

But if your peaches were ex­tra juicy (lucky!), don’t be frus­trated. Even a runny pie is bet­ter than no pie, es­pe­cially topped with a scoop of ice cream.

Peach Crumb Pie MAKES 10 SERV­INGS (ONE 9-INCH PIE)

One sin­gle-crust pre­pared pie dough Brown Sugar and Oat Crum­ble (recipe fol­lows) 3 pounds peaches 1 cup sugar 2 tea­spoons le­mon juice ¼ cup corn­starch 1 tsp ground cin­na­mon ¼ tsp kosher salt

To­tal time: 3 hours 15 min­utes; ac­tive time: 30 min­utes)

Pre­heat the oven to 375 F and set the rack in the low­est po­si­tion.

Line the bot­tom of a pie pan with pie dough. Re­frig­er­ate while you pre­pare the crum­ble and fill­ing.

Pre­pare Brown Sugar and Oat Crum­ble. Set aside.

Bring a medium pot of wa­ter to a boil. In a medium bowl, pre­pare an ice bath. Lightly cut an X on top of each peach. Gen­tly lower half of the peaches into the boil­ing wa­ter with a slot­ted spoon and sub­merge for 30 to 60 sec­onds. Re­move them with a slot­ted spoon and im­me­di­ately sub­merge in the ice bath. Re­peat with the re­main­ing peaches.

Trans­fer the blanched peaches to a cut­ting board. When they are cool enough to han­dle, re­move the skins with a par­ing knife or peeler. Pit the peaches and cut them into 1/3-inch slices.

In a medium bowl, com­bine the peaches, sugar, le­mon juice, corn­starch, cin­na­mon, and salt. Toss to com­bine. Im­me­di­ately trans­fer the mix­ture to the pre­pared bot­tom crust. Top with the crum­ble.

Place the pie on a rimmed bak­ing sheet. Bake un­til the fill­ing is bub­bly and thick, 45 to 50 min­utes. Re­move the pie from the oven and place it on a cool­ing rack.

Let cool for two to three hours. The fill­ing will con­tinue to thicken and set as the pie cools.

Brown Sugar and Oat Crum­ble MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

1/3 cup all-pur­pose flour 1 cup old-fash­ioned or quick-cook­ing oats 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed ½ tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon ¼ tsp kosher salt 4 ta­ble­spoons (1/2 stick) un­salted but­ter, cold, cut into ½-inch cubes

In a medium bowl, com­bine the flour, oats, sugar, cin­na­mon and salt.

Add the but­ter to the flour mix­ture, toss­ing to coat. Cut the fat into the mix­ture us­ing your fin­ger­tips, a pas­try blender, or two forks un­til the mix­ture looks like coarse ir­reg­u­lar crumbs.

Dis­trib­ute the crum­ble evenly over the pie or tart and bake as di­rected. If not us­ing im­me­di­ately, store the crum­ble in an air­tight con­tainer in the re­frig­er­a­tor.

Chef’s note: If mak­ing the crum­ble in a food pro­ces­sor, stir in the oats by hand af­ter puls­ing in the but­ter to avoid chop­ping the oats.

Per serv­ing: 340 calo­ries (89 from fat); 10 grams fat (4 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 12 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 171 mg sodium; 61 g car­bo­hy­drate; 4 g fi­bre; 39 g sugar; 4 g pro­tein.

PHIL MANS­FIELD, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Peach pies rank among top sum­mer treats; best way to make some­one even more ex­cited is to make it a ‘crumb’ pie.

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