Pie-a-Day #14: Cliff Wright’s New England Peach Pie

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This post comes to us from Clifford Wright – noted cookbook author, culinary instructor (Venice Cooking School), blogger and frequent Good Food guest.

A psychological phenomenon we all experience is the immediate attraction to a dish described as old-fashioned.  Who would go for a pie described as new-fangled?  One of my favorite old-fashioned recipes is deep-dish peach pie.  In this case, old-fashioned means a flaky pie crust made unabashedly with pork lard and a filling of ripe fresh peaches and not much else.  I believe the best pies and the best pie makers are in New England where in nearly 400 years pies have been perfected.  So here’s a deep-dish peach pie as it would be made from Maine to Rhode Island.

Peach Pie 1

Old-fashioned Deep-dish Peach Pie

For the crust
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup very cold pork lard or Crisco, diced
4 to 6 Tablespoons iced milk

For the filling
4 cups sliced ripe peaches (about 5 or 6)
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 tsp almond extract

1. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and run for 10 seconds.

2. Add the butter and lard in the food processor and pulse until it looks like a coarse meal.  Grease your hands with butter to handle the dough.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the milk into the dough until it can be formed into a smooth ball.  Do not over knead or handle too much.  Break the ball of dough into two balls, about 60/40, the larger ball to be used for the bottom of the pie.  Wrap both balls in wax paper and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Roll the larger ball of dough out with a floured rolling pin on a sheet of floured parchment paper and lay a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan inverted on top.  Flip both over and remove the parchment paper.  Shape the dough to fit the pie pan and form the edge with your fingers, patching holes if necessary.

4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

5. In a bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, and cornstarch.  Arrange the peach slices in the pie pan.  Fold and shake the sugar mixture into the peaches.  Dot with butter and sprinkle with almond extract.

6. Roll out the smaller ball of dough the same way you did the first and cover the pie, crimping the edges closed.  Score in several places with a knife so steam can escape.  Seal the bottom and top edges with a pastry crimper, tines of a fork, or your fingers.

7. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until the crust is golden and the peaches tender, 30 to 35 minutes.  Let cool until warm and then serve or serve later at room temperature.

Makes one double-crusted deep-dish 9-inch pie