The lull of late summer hangs in the air like ripe fruit. The atmosphere is thick and still, perfect for the crickets’ hum. Without the heavy heat, they don’t sing. It’s a sign of ripeness, the balsamic time of summer in its fullness, that brings us juicy tomatoes, watermelons, peaches and plums.
I recently visited my friend Elizabeth to teach her how to make a pie. In return, she taught me how to have a big view. It was Carl Sagan who said, “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” Which is to say: a pie is more than flour, water and fruit. You must consider the farmer, the soil…it is a cosmic collaboration. What does it mean to make something from scratch? It is an invitation to look deeper into your world.
As we roll out the dough and slice the fruit, we are left with an opportunity to enjoy a peach pie at its sweetest. Remember, the best pie is the one you are eating right now. The apples will have to wait.
Here’s a recipe that many of you have seen, but many of you are still asking for.
Recipe: 17th Century Bottom-Crusted Peach Pie
2 cups of unbleached white flour1 and a half sticks of butterA few Tbsp of cold waterPinch of saltCream
6 organic peaches, skins left on, sliced1/2 c sugar1 lemon, sliced in half
Cream to whip and put on top is optional
Tart pan or wide edged ceramic bowl
Put together your pie dough by cutting butter into your flour with two knives (or use a Cuisinart, pulsing the blade to cut the butter into flour). Add a pinch of salt. Add cold water a tablespoon at the time to bind the dough together. Form into a ball. It should feel like a “babies behind.” Put it in the fridge for 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile, slice peaches into a bowl. Add sugar to taste and 1/2 of a lemon, juiced with your hand. Set aside.
Take out the dough and flatten it with your hand on a floured surface. Roll out the dough, starting from the center and rolling out in all directions until you have a thin round. It will be large. The point is to have enough to drape over the fruit. Center it over your tart, pie plate or open ceramic bowl.
Preheat oven to 400F. Fill the dough with your peaches. Add a sprinkle of flour and 4 or 5 pats of butter. Fold the excess dough over the fruit like you were covering bread in a cloth. Brush the dough with a beaten egg.
Put in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 45- 1 hour. Check when you smell the fruit cooking. The crust should be golden. Let cool.
Final step: Enjoy.