The wise, wise people at Smittenkitchen.com said it before and it certainly bares repeating- you just don’t mess with perfection, or in this case peach pie. They make the argument that a peach pie should be free of the flavor-enhancing bells and whistles added to other pies because a ripe peach needs none of them. I agree wholeheartedly. Nothing says summer like a supple, fragrant peach. Can anyone think of another fruit so simple, and at the same time so decadent?
So to “gild the lily” of the stone fruit world almost seems to imply a lack of appreciation.
There is one exception, though, and I am adding them to my already perfect peach pie today. I am gleefully gilding with fresh huckleberries.
For about three minutes each year, huckleberries hit a couple of stores in my neck of the woods. Evidently they are extraordinarily hard to cultivate, and foraging opportunities are hard to come by.
Long before I ever tasted a fresh one, I loved huckleberries with nearly all of my pie-devouring being. Blame it on Strawberry Shortcake. If you were a young girl in the early 1980’s, there were few other toys as awesome. Star Wars was also firmly staking it’s claim, but Darth Vader never smelled as good as Strawberry’s main guy friend, Huckleberry Pie. Complete with a wee straw hat, ginger-tinged bowl cut, and overalls, how could any girl resist him? He had the most amazing scent, like nothing I had ever breathed in before; and I could not resist the urge to snatch of his lid and dive nose-first into his mass of scented vinyl locks.
Thankfully, the real deal lived up to the doll. They are so tiny and perfectly potent, and ready to enhance -but never take away from- those perfect peaches.
If you have read my blueberry pie post, this recipe will probably look familiar. I am swapping out the blueberries for peaches, and am adding just the faintest whisper of cinnamon. Everything is the same from there. Huckleberries are very delicate and tend to give off a lot of juice (they also stain). With that in mind, I mix my filling without them, opting to add them in layers while I am filling the pie shell.
If you cannot find huckleberries, don’t fret. Add nothing at all, and your peach pie will still be a perfect one.
Peach Pie with Huckleberries
6 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
A small pinch of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
juice and finely grated zest of one lemon (preferably a Meyer lemon)
1 Tbsp. cold butter, chopped
1 batch of double-crust pie dough, chilled (recipe below)
1 egg, for egg wash
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Roll out the first disc of pie dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Line the pie pan with the dough and trim away excess. Roll the second piece of pie dough into a 1/8 inch thick, round-ish shape. I use a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with a little flour for this part. The dough stays in place and is easy to transfer back into the refrigerator this way. Chill for 5 minutes.
Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush a thin layer onto the edge of the pie crust.
Pour the peaches, sugar, both starches, salt, juice, cinnamon and zest into a large bowl and gently toss together. Pour one third of the peaches into the dough-lined pie pan and arrange into an even layer. Don’t smoosh them. Sprinkle half of the huckleberries evenly onto the peaches. Pour half of the remaining peaches into the pie shell, followed by the rest of the huckleberries. Top with the remaining peaches. Arrange the pieces of butter on top.
Gently cover the pie filling with the pie crust, pressing the top onto the bottom crust. Cut off the excess dough, and make a pretty pattern around the rim of the pie. Cut a few vents into the top, brush lightly with egg wash, and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Chill for 15 munutes before baking.
Bake on the bottom rack for 15-20 minutes. Reduce the oven temp. to 375F, bring the pie up to the middle rack, and bake for another 35-45 minutes, or until the crust is evenly brown and the juices are bubbling out. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. If you like a thicker filling that doesn’t run, allow this pie to cool completely to room temperature.
I have tried so many pie dough recipes over the years, but I always come back to this one. It is simple, delicious, as easy as can be, and uses only butter.
Nick Maglieri’s Flaky Butter Pie Dough (Classic Home Baking, Richard Sax, 1994)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz (two sticks) cold butter (unsalted), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
6 tablespoons ice water
Place flours, baking powder, and salt into a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse again for 2 or 3 seconds. Pour in the water and pulse just until the water is fully incorporated and pea-sized pieces of dough begin to form. Divide into two piles and gently press each pile into a ball. Loosely wrap each ball in plastic and press into a 1/2 inch thick circle. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.