30.7.09

what i did on my summer vacation: day eight

still not feeling particularly great - and it rained all day! double boo. we went for another drive, in search of the big barn of antiques, and found it! we looked at all sorts of neat stuff - my favourite was a waffle iron designed to use on a wood stove - and came home with a chair, and bookend, and a doorknob to replace one at the cottage. i was tempted by a stack of old hand drills, like those i remember from childhood, but resisted.
a rainy indoors day is good for one thing - baking! so i sliced up the peaches, put the ingredients for pastry in the freezer to chill, and investigated the 60-year-old joy of cooking to see if it had any brilliant peachy ideas to share. since we had lots of lovely farm eggs on hand, i went with the peach custard pie with meringue on top! mmmm.

my basic pastry recipe is easy to remember: twice as much flour as fat (going by weight), a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and ice water as needed. for a one-crust pie, i use 4 oz butter (a half cup) and 8 oz of flour (a rounded cup-and-a-half).

since this is for a sweet pie, i tossed a scant handful of sugar into the flour along with the pinch of salt. make sure the butter, flour, and ice-water are super cold. cut the butter into bits, and then cut it into the cold flour with a fork, two knives, or your fingers - you want it to resemble fine breadcrumbs and stay cold. the key to pastry is to keep the gluten in the flour from getting "activated" - one way to do that is to keep it and the fat really cold so they are sort of interspersed among one another without actually getting blended. another way to subdue the gluten is to add a bit of acid - hence the squeeze of lemon. if you don't have any lemon, throw in a teaspoon of white vinegar, or something else acidic - don't leave it out! squeeze a half of lemon over the flour mixture, add a spoonful or two of ice water, and mix with a fork. add ice water spoonful by spoonful until the dough will just hold together, then use your hands to squash it into a disc, and put in the fridge to chill for at least a half-hour. then roll it out nice and thin (about an eight of an inch), line the pie plate, and use the leftover scraps to make a pretty edge (if you are making a single-crust pie, you can cut out leaves or other shapes out of the leftover pastry to put on top, too). put it back in the fridge to rest for another half hour (or more) while you make the filling.

the peach custard pie recipe i used is super easy. arrange the peach slices in the crust (i used 5 peaches instead of the 2 the recipe called for, and sprinkled lightly with a mix of sugar, nutmeg, and ginger and a few squeezes of lemon), then make the custard by blending 2 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 cups of milk (i used cream). pour this over the fruit, bake 15 minutes at 450F, then drop the temperature to 325F for another half-hour. let it cool before making the meringue.

meringue is easy - the key is to have the egg whites at room temperature. take the 2 egg whites (left over from the custard), and whisk adding 4 tbs sugar gradually along with 1/2 tsp vanilla (the recipe suggests adding 3 tbs "finely chopped nutmeats" which would be awesome, but which i left out due to having nothing on hand). after a while the whites will turn into a light foam. stop whisking when it will hold peaks - overbeating is not a good idea. pile the meringue on top of the cooled pie, and pop in a cool 300F oven for 20 minutes. mmmm.

1 comment:

  1. That pie looks delicious. Please come over to my house and make it again! Also, that old copy of The Joy of Cooking is so pretty!

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