August 24, 2015

nigel slater's peach pie

 So here's a funny thing. I took all these pix of my pretty peach pie and then I had A Weird Experience and thought, oh well, there goes the blog post. But then I thought, no it's ok because I'm just a home cook and this is not a A Real Food Blog and I might as well share what happened and we can muddle through together.

I made Nigel Slater's Peach Pie with Lemon Pastry last week; the recipe is from his book 'Notes From the Larder', which I love and adore. I also love and adore Nigel Slater. But....I love his writing a teensy bit more than I love his recipes, which are a bit hit or miss for me. (I'm sorry Nigel. I really think you're amazing.) The hits are BIG HITS (like his chocolate banana bread) and the misses are...well, sometimes things are just less than perfect in this world and that's ok.

Nigel likes to make several of his pies with a cookie dough crust. Sort of fruit and shortbread type of biz. I made a blueberry pie of his like that, which turned out really well. This one though, had a few mishaps, which I will share. I believe that he does not call for enough thickening in with his peach slices. I DON'T LIKE MESSY PIE and in this case, all the juice served to make the bottom crust a tad too soggy in places. Also, my oven is a bit slow, meaning I have to cook things longer amounts of time, so if yours is slow as well, cook this pie A GOOD 10 MINUTES more than the recipe says.

So the problem was that I thought the crust was too soggy in certain places, like the very middle and some of the bottom. Some of it was just right. The flavor was amazing! My husband and I were like, hmmm. Maybe best to go with a traditional pie dough crust? My daughter ate this for breakfast, ENORMOUS slices, for two days in a row. She absolutely LOVED it and said, MOM. YOU MUST MAKE THIS AGAIN. (I'm looking at the photos for the blueberry pie and am realizing how uniform the crust was compared to my lumpy peach slices. Maybe this crust needs to be flatter, so it cooks evenly??)

 So here's what I think. I think the baking technique needs tinkering. Because, really, the idea is sound and the flavor is really outstanding. The cookie crust is indeed yummy. I have some thoughts, which include 1) Cook the pie, regardless of how hot your oven is, for another 10 minutes than the original recipe calls for, and make it REALLY golden brown. Or......BROIL it at the end, to get that top crust really crisp. And 2) Add at least 3 tablespoons of thickener when using peaches. He called for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. ADD MORE. Me, I like to use flour as my thickener, I just do. And 3) I would give heavy consideration to making this into a cobbler, and just adding ALL the crust to the top, instead of doing top and bottom. Some of the bottom crust came out perfectly, but the parts where too much juice ran out - this made the cookie dough crust too soggy.

But do give it a whirl, because seriously, my daughter just couldn't get enough and was utterly delighted with it, and these days, any time I manage to pull off really delighting my daughter, as opposed to mortifying her or embarrassing her or annoying her - that's a good day.

Nigel Slater's Peach Pie with Lemon Pastry - via 'Notes From the Larder'

Ingredients for pastry:

2/3 cups butter (10 and a half tablespoons)
3/4 cup golden brown sugar
1 egg
the grated zest of a small lemon
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
a little milk and sugar to finish

Ingredients for filling:

6 medium-sized, ripe peaches
2 tbsp white sugar, superfine if you have it
the grated zest of a small to medium orange (I omitted this)
1 heaping tbsp cornstarch (SEE MY NOTES ABOVE PLEASE)
(You will also need a 9 inch metal pie plate)

Directions from the book: 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Lightly butter the pie plate. Mix in the egg, continue creaming, then add the grated lemon zest. Sift together the flour and the baking powder, then fold tenderly into the butter and sugar mixture. Form the dough into a ball and place on a floured work surface. Knead very lightly for a minute or so, then cut in half. You will use one half of the dough to line the pie plate. Place this, and the remaining half, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

(Nigel says that for the bottom crust, it works best to form the dough into a log before chilling. Then cut into 1/8th inch thick slices, and line the bottom of the pie plate with the slices. Press out the dough slices into the pan with your hands and pat it into the pan, making a uniform layer of dough. This was very easy to do! Much easier than rolling it out. You gotta roll out the top crust though.)

Halve the peaches and remove their pits. Cut each peach half into large pieces and put in a bowl with the sugar, orange zest and cornstarch. Toss together gently, then spoon into the pie plate. Roll out the reserved pastry to generously fit the top of the pie. Brush the rim of the pastry in the pie plate with a little milk, then lower the second piece of pastry on top. Press the edges to seal, pressing or pinching them together as you wish, then brush the pie lightly with milk and dust lightly with sugar. Pierce a small hole or cut in the center of the crust to let the steam out.

Bake for 40 minutes (MORE. SEE NOTES ABOVE.) or so until the crust is pale gold (DARK GOLD). Leave to settle for 10-15 minutes or more before serving.

~ So what do you think my lovelies? Fancy a try at this? My blueberry version of this same recipe turned out perfectly. And my kid ADORED it, like I mentioned above. Just need to get that crust to cook evenly enough....


  1. I love honest cooking/baking posts. :) It does look yummy.

    Now that we have a new grill, I'll trying to get Mr. B to grill some peaches. It always looks/sounds amazing when I see folks do it on TV/internet/magazines.

    1. I was so thrilled when it came out of the oven, it looked so pretty! And then later when we cut into it, I was like, um, there is too much juice, it didn't thicken properly at all and this crust is on the soft side even when well cooked so all that juice just turned parts of the bottom crust into a mess. But it can be saved I think! I'd love to try it with plums. It would kind of be like a plum cookie/cake type of thing!

  2. It looks delicious! Nothing like a peach pie, I think I must try this one.

    1. oh yay! do try it! Just make sure you thicken up those peaches! I actually wonder if a glass pan would work better for properly browning the bottom crust. Also, if you do have a hankering for peach dessert, I just realized that I'm pretty sure I have a peach cobbler recipe on the blog in my archives from Southern dessert master, Lee Bailey - that's a wonderful recipe! It's not a cookie dough crust like this one, it's a very tender pie dough crust :)

  3. For someone who's "just a home cook" your suggested alterations are pretty spot on. Then again I'm just a home cook too so this could be the blind leading the blind. Looks gorgeous in any case!



    1. yipes I thought of something else - I wonder if pre-cooking the bottom crust a bit might help firm it up?? i bet it would! ha ha ha - i'm a home cook who's been reading cookbooks non-stop since I was 18! i posted on Facebook the other day that I'm really trying to whittle down the 100 or so cookbooks that live in my house - I have an entire BOOKCASE filled with them!!

  4. It looks pretty darn amazing, regardless of the soggy bits :) I am so looking forward to peach season.