Can't get enough of fragrant, delicate white peaches? We are in the midst of stonefruit season where they are abundant and inexpensive and can be bought by the bucket-ful. That means jamming and other ways to make dishes with this seasonal treat. And nothing is more beautiful than a peach and vanilla pie with a pretty patterned crust.
I've never hidden my love for pies although this year I think I've baked more than I ever have. It comes courtesy of having a perfect pie crust. This one is deliciously buttery and heady in vanilla so it holds in the fruit perfectly without getting soggy. This crust is also perfect for creating wonderful patterns that are so popular nowadays.
I bought 2 kilos of white peaches for this pie. Clingstone fruit can be hard to work with as the flesh steadfastly refuses to separate from the pip. But I have found that if the fruit is ripe but still firm and you cut lots of segments then they will separate easily. If the fruit is too soft or mushy it becomes a bit of a mess (although it still is perfectly tasty).
The smell of this pie baking is wonderful. It smells simply of butter and vanilla with a touch of peach. I used to think that making these patterns on top would require a special cutter and you can actually buy these cutters but you can also do it easily with some leaf cutters. There is one trick to the topping though and that is freezing it once it is cut because it is so delicate and lacey. I have a lot of ideas for more pies now there is so much stonefruit - because you know me Dear Reader, when I become obsessed with something, I become very obsessed.
Speaking of my obsessions and quirks, Mr NQN has a lot of meetings at his work. He works for a big fashion company and they are a really modern workplace. For example, meetings are held in the nearby park, often while he is holding Mochi. Teams switch around every few months to keep things interesting and they also give them tips for how to get to know each other. One way is by giving them ice breaker questions.
An example of an ice breaker question is: tell me two truths and one lie. He likes this question because it is often fun and you can learn something interesting about the person that you are talking to. I asked him for some examples. He had to think about it because I know so much about him and eventually gave me this one: "I have skinny dipped in a river, lake and a ocean. Which one is false?"
I thought about it for a second before I blurted out "Ocean!" and explained my guess. "It's because you spent your whole childhood practically naked except when you were at school (hippies y'all) and you always lived near a river or lake."
He then challenged me to come up with two truths and one lie. And here are mine Dear Reader:
I thought the "Flying fruit fly circus" involved actual fruit flies.
I have seen a dead body in real life.
My number one fear is being alone.
My fourth would probably be, "I can't stop baking pies." But maybe it's just that I can stop eating them, I'm not entirely sure...
So tell me Dear Reader, which do you think is the lie? What is your favourite ice breaker question? And do you love pie?
Pretty Lace Peach Pie!
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 45 minutes plus chilling time
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 2.5 cups plain all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon caster or superfine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 225g/2 sticks butter, cold and cubed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 7-8 tablespoons water
10 white peaches
- 1 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 1/4 cup cornflour/fine cornstarch
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 egg, whisked for glazing
Step 1 - Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until mixed. Add butter and pulse until it resembles sand. Add in the vanilla bean paste and water until starting to come together. Knead in a bowl or on a clean surface. Divide in two and shape into a round and flatten and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Step 2 - Spray a pie dish or tin with oil spray or brush with butter. Roll out one pastry round between parchment and fit into the pie dish. Flute the edges and dock the base with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then roll out the other round of pastry on a sheet of parchment and cut out a circle the same size as the pie. Take two leaf cutters, one small and one large and cut out a pattern as shown starting in the middle centre and branching out to near the edge. Gently lift the sheet of parchment onto a tray and place the top in the freezer to set hard (it will be too delicate to lift unless frozen).
Step 3 - Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Line the base with a sheet of oiled foil, fill with baking beads and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beads and if it needs a bit more time in the oven bake it until the base is cooked. Cool.
Step 4 - Cut peaches into slices-I like leaving the skin on for the colour and goodness but you can remove the skin by simmering in a saucepan of water for 1 minute and then slipping off the skin. Toss with the sugar, cornflour, ground almonds and vanilla sugar and place in the pie base. Cover with frozen top. Preheat oven to 200C/400F and brush the top with the egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool and serve slices with cream.