With all those berries and peaches we snapped up at the farmer’s market last Saturday, my thoughts turned to … pies. But with no food processor combined with my dough rolling ineptitude, I must admit I hesitated, especially after I compared myself to Tom.
Back a few weeks ago, during sour cherry season, Tom made and froze several mini cherry pies.
Of course (Tom being Tom) the pies looked like something that came out of a magical happy Dreamworld, baked by a beautiful Fairy Princess and her kindly Elfin Helpers in the cozy kitchen of a white marble castle surrounded by sweetly scented rose blooms. Tom’s pies had uniform, expertly rolled crusts, and were adorned with great golden brown swaths of laurel branches held in the beaks of fluttering doves! All made from pie crust! Kind of makes you want to kill yourself, doesn’t it?!
I’m exaggerating to make a point. Don’t kill yourself (or worse – resort to using a storebought pie crust) over the fact you don’t have a food processor and/or could not roll out pie crust dough to save your life. As long as you don’t mind not winning the Pillsbury Bake Off “Most Beautiful Pie” contest you don’t need either of these things, and the pie will taste DIVINE (really)!
I usually at least TRY to roll out the dough but this past weekend I thought to myself, “F” it (can we say “F” on a blog?), I ain’t processing, I ain’t pastry blending, I ain’t rolling out no stinkin’ dough! And furthermore, I need to occupy my 4 year old, so SHE is going to do all the work!
What transpired was something of a revelation. Could it have been flakier? Probably. And it was “rustic” looking, to be sure. But I was shocked to discover that this completely artless, totally techniqueless pie making method resulted in a light and tender yet crisp crust. And, to go with the artless theme, we did precious little to the fruit beyond just peeling and slicing the peaches. The preparation took no more than 20 minutes and only dirtied up one big bowl and one little girl.
Revelations like these call for a bit of a celebration! Try it with first vine’s Domaine la Croix des Marchands “Methode Gaillaçoise” ($18) – an unusual sparkling wine made from 100% Mauzac, the Gaillac region’s oldest varietal. Mauzac is a grape that can be either fruity, sweet, dry, or spicy depending on vinification, but it has a sort of pear and green apple flavor that comes through. The wine is crisp, fresh, slightly sweet, lightly fruity, a real treat. And, don’t forget if you’re in Washington DC, we’ll deliver it to your door (shipping to VA)!
No Fuss, No Muss, No Roll – Peach & Berry Pie
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (unsalted and very cold if possible)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 to 6 Tbsp ice water
Combine flour, salt, sugar and butter in a large bowl. Have a 4 year old work the butter into the dry ingredients with her hands, using a circular rubbing motion. After a few minutes, take over from her, picking up more flour as you go, always keeping contact with the flour not the butter. Try to keep the butter in the middle of the flour. The end result should look like a bunch of pea sized floury lumps. Then add your ice water, and gather the dough into a ball using a wooden spoon. Drop the ball of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and place in the freezer while you make the filling.
- About a pound of peeled, sliced peaches (we used blackberries here too). Use only the freshest, most perfectly ripe fruit. If this type of fruit is not available, make a chocolate cream pie instead!
- 1 1/2 TBSP cornstarch
- A couple TBSP sugar (perfectly ripe summer fruit does not need more sugar)
- A few dashes of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or allspice (whatever you have on hand or prefer)
Preheat oven to 450. Dump all of the above into your bowl and combine.
Get out the pie crust dough. Divide into 2 balls, place one ball into the bottom of a pie tin. Have your 4 year old smoosh the dough into the bottom of the pan and up around the sides. After she’s been at it for several minutes, take over and even it up a bit. Pour the prepared fruit into the pie tin. Give your girl the second ball of dough. Have her pull off ping pong ball sized pieces of dough and roll them out like snakes. Then tell her to flatten the snakes by smashing them with her hand. After the snakes are good and flat, she can put them on top of the pile of fruit. Repeat until all the dough is used and the fruit is more or less covered up. Brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle with a TBSP of sugar. Place on a baking sheet and put pie in the 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 and allow it to bake for approximately 30 – 40 more minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.