Mmmm, Peach Almond Crumb Pie. What can I say about peach pie?
I’ve talked about my love of all things pie, and I’ve talked about my fruit obsession. Though I love all fruit and try not to play favorites, there is something very special about a tree-ripened peach. Like tomatoes, peaches really are only worth eating when they’re in season. I eat as many as I can while the gettin’ is good. I have to indulge enough to carry me through to next summer!
I mostly prefer them as they are, in all their fuzzy, juicy glory. But hey, why not also bake them into a pie while they’re bountiful?
To start the filling I toss the peeled and sliced peaches with sugar and allow the fruit to macerate for a couple of hours. Macerating the fruit is an important step for three reasons; to reduce boil overs, to allow pre-cooking of the starch, and to help the fruit maintain it’s shape while baking.
The sugar will draw out excess water from the fruit and the amount of boil over during baking will be reduced. Once the juice is drawn out of the fruit we can pre-cook it with the corn starch to ensure that the starch will be fully activated (under cooking the starch could result in a runny pie filling).
When fruits and vegetables are heated (e.g., baked in pie) the cell walls weaken and the water contained in the plant leaks out. The fruit or vegetable looses it’s structure and becomes mushy. When uncooked fruit is tossed with sugar, the sugar is drawn into the fruit and reinforces the cell walls, thus allowing the fruit to maintain it’s shape while baking. No mushy pie filling! It’s like magic, except that it’s science.
Because the pit’s kernal has a bitter almond flavor, peaches have an affinity with almonds. To emphasize the natural flavor I add a hint of almond extract to the crumb topping. For the perfect accompaniment, you could crack the pits and save the kernal to make peach pit ice cream.
- 1/2 recipe Perfect Pie Crust
- 3 pounds fresh peaches-peeled, pitted and sliced (about 7 cups, sliced)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Small pinch of salt
- 2/3 - 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1-2 teaspoons corn starch
For the Crumb Topping
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2/3 cups brown sugar
- small pinch of salt
- 4 oz unsalted butter, softened to room temp
- 1 tsp real almond extract
- Roll the pie shell and line a deep dish pie pan, crimp the edges
- Refrigerate the pie shell while the filling and topping are prepared
Prepare the peach filling
- Toss the sliced peaches with the salt, sugar and lemon juice
- Allow to macerate for 2-3 hours
- Strain the peaches and collect the juice
- There should be about 3/4-1 cup of juice depending on how ripe the fruit is
- Combine the corn starch (use the smaller amount if you have closer to 3/4 cup of juice and the larger amount if you have closer to 1 cup of juice) with 1/4 cup of the juice and whisk until smooth
- Bring the remaining juice to a boil in a small saucepan
- Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the boiling juices
- Whisking constantly, cook the juice mixture until it is thick and at a full boil
- Fold the thickened juice into the peach slices
- Pour the peach filling into the chilled pie crust
For the Topping
- Sift the flour into a mixer bowl
- Add the brown sugar, salt and almond extract to the flour
- Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed to combine
- With the mixer running, add the butter a tablespoon at a time
- Mix on low speed until the topping looks like wet sand
Assemble and Bake the Pie
- Preheat the oven to 350 F convection or 375 F conventional
- Grab a handful of the topping and squeeze it together to form a large clump
- Break the large clump into smaller clumps over the peach filling
- Continue sprinkling the clumps of crumb topping evenly over the peach filling
- Bake about 1 1/4 hours
- Make sure the the juices in the middle of the pie are bubbling
- Cool on a wire rack
The amount of sugar and cornstarch used in the filling can vary based on how juicy the peaches are and how sweet you want the filling.
If the peaches are very sweet and juicy you can use the smaller amount of sugar and the larger amount of starch. The peaches I used for this pie were still fairly firm so I used the larger amount of sugar (because the fruit wasn't extremely sweet) and smaller amount of starch (since there wasn't as much juice).
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