Last spring I hatched an idea to enter a pie in the Multnomah County Fair. It was, in part, inspired by my grandma. At her funeral I learned something I never knew about her: for years she entered rugs in the county fair. It was just a hobby of hers, but I thought it was very charming. I didn’t know she had this hobby, although my Dad pointed out that there were homemade rugs all over her home I just never realized it, and I found it romantic in an old-fashioned kind of way. These days, who enters anything at the fair?
I don’t make rugs, but I do bake. I bake lots of things, but pies as one of my favorite. So I decided to follow my grandma’s lead and enter one in the fair. Maybe it will be fun. Maybe I’ll win. Maybe I’ll inspire other people my age to enter next year. I spent a fortune on fresh berries, then tried out a bunch of different crusts, filling and thickeners. There was even a dramatic disaster, when I accidently blew up a pie hours before the deadline. And after all that. I won! I was shocked. Stunned. I was awarded a ribbon that says “Best of Pie” and $16.
Inspired by my own success and the taste of victory, just two month later I’m trying again. I’m going to state. Yesterday, I entered a Peach Pie in the Oregon State Fair. I was not as scientific about the process this time. But I took what I’ve learned, bought some beautiful local peaches, and made what I think is a really great pie. But we’ll see what the judges have to say when they judge it later today.
But I will share my recipe. Even if you aren’t as inspired as I am to enter you local fair. I hope you’ll at least give the old-fashioned art of pie making a try.
KRISTI’S STATE FAIR PEACH PIE
I’ve tried a bunch of different crusts, this is my favorite because it’s the easiest to make using the Kitchen Aide Mixer. Adding a crumble between the top crust and the filling is my secret weapon against too much liquid. This works especially great with strawberry pies.
2.5 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (16 Tbs) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
6 Tbs. very cold water
1 Cup melted butter
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2.5 Cups flour
3.5 pounds peaches (I used about 7 medium/small)
Juice from half of a lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
A few shavings of fresh nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
3 Tbs corn starch or potato starch
To make the crust:
Fit stand mixer with flat beater then stir together flour sugar and salt in the attached bowl. Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix just until the dough comes together in a ball. At this point roll out the dough for your crust, or wrap in plastic and store in fridge until you’re ready. This make enough for a couple crust.
To make filling:
Bring a large pot of water to boil. While it’s heating, fill a large bowl in your sink with cool water. Once the water boils dunk 4 or 5 peaches at a time in the water for a couple minutes. Ladle them out and drop in the bowl of cool water. Once they’re cool enough to handle, the skins should slide right off. Slice and pit the peaches. Mix the sliced peaches and the rest of the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
To make the crumble:
Melt the butter in a heat proof bowl. Stir in the sugars, spices and salt with a fork until the butter is evenly distributed.
Preheat oven to 425.
On a floured surface (with more flour standing by) roll out half the dough into a 12-13 inch circle. This takes time and patience. Starting with a flattened ball of dough, roll once from front to back, then give the dough a quarter turn and roll again. Repeat until it reaches the desired size, adding more flour when dough begins to stick to the counter or rolling pin.
Wrapping the dough around the rolling pin, slide the circle onto the pie plate, gently fitting it into the edges. Pour the filling into the prepared dough. I like to use a slotted spoon, so it’s not too juicy. Spread evenly then top with the crumble. There may be more crumble than you need.
Roll the second half of the crust out in the same way as the first. Slide it ontop of the pie, or cut into strips for a lattice crust. I recommend youtube videos for how to assemble. Finally trim the excess dough with kitchen scissors, leaving a half inch overhang. Start folding the edges under and crimping the dough together to make a seal. Again, youtube is a great resource for how to make attractive edges. Last, gently brush the top of the pie with milk or water and sprinkle with sugar.
Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn down the heat to 375 and back for an additional 30-40 minutes until the liquid is bubbling and the pie is a golden brown all over. Cool before eating.