Four Peaches Can Make a Pie: Lattice-Top Peach Pie

Last month I was at my cousin's house and his in-laws were kind enough to give me some peaches they had just bought from Kingsbury's Orchard in Maryland. (In my personal experience, this is something that Asians commonly do, i.e., buying a huge amount of fruit or produce and then giving tons of it away. My late aunt did it often, and my mother still does this all the time. My parents' house is always overflowing with fruit -- not just the massive amounts that my mother buys herself, but also the large quantities have they have been gifted by friends.) 

I received a bag full of Sugar Giant white peaches, a variety I had never encountered before. They were the size of grapefruits and the biggest peaches I have ever seen. While I love eating white peaches out of hand, I had so many that I decided I needed to bake some peach desserts. Since I had a great result with Rose Levy Beranbaum's Lattice-Top Rhubarb Pie, I decided to make the peach version that was published in the same issue of Fine Cooking. The only difference between the two pie recipes is the filling. But since I actually didn't try Rose's crust for the rhubarb pie (I used BraveTart's all-butter crust instead), I decided to make her Lattice-Top Peach Pie recipe exactly as written, crust and all. 

Rose instructs you to freeze all of the dry ingredients in the crust for 30 minutes before you make the dough. You put the cold flour, cake flour, salt, and baking powder in the food processor; add cold cream cheese; pulse in cubed frozen butter; and add heavy cream and cider vinegar. You divide the dough into two parts, wrap each half in plastic, and chill them for at least 45 minutes. After the dough was chilled, I rolled out one piece, used it to line a 9-inch pie pan, and put the crust in the fridge.
The filling requires 2.75 pounds of ripe peaches. To give you an idea of how big the Sugar Giant peaches were, I only needed four (!) to make the pie. I peeled the peaches, pitted them, and cut them into thin slices. I tossed the peaches with some lemon juice, sugar, and salt, and let them sit at room temperature for a few hours. Then I strained out the juices and reduced them to a third of a cup. I tossed the peaches with cornstarch and almond extract, added back the reduced juices, and put the peach filling in the chilled crust. Then I rolled out the remaining dough, cut it into strips with a fluted pastry wheel, and formed the lattice on top of the peaches. I chilled the pie for an hour before brushing the lattice with milk and sprinkling on coarse sugar.

I baked the pie directly on top of a baking stone placed on the bottom rack of my oven, adding a pie shield after the first 15 minutes. Unfortunately, I spaced out after adding the pie shield and forgot to follow the recipe instructions to shield the top of the pie with foil if it looked like it was getting to dark towards the end of the baking time. So I burned my pie. I was bummed but the pie looked like it was probably fine except for the burnt lattice.
I let the pie cool completely and sit at room temperature for a few hours before attempting to cut into it. The filling was nicely thickened, the slices held their shape well, and I was glad to see that the crust was browned on the bottom and cooked through. Even the burned top lattice wasn't that bad. The peach filling was tasty and although I thought the pie was very good, in retrospect I don't think that Sugar Giants were the best choice for a pie. Their flavor is very sweet, but also very mild. The pie was missing the quintessential peach flavor that you find in a yellow peach, even with the concentrated peach juices added to the filling. Also, while the crust was fully cooked and also tasted good, it was not as good as BraveTart's crust -- which is flakier and more flavorful.

But I don't want to sound too critical about this pie because I thoroughly enjoyed eating it. I stored the leftovers in the fridge and it kept well; I didn't mind eating slices cold, straight from the refrigerator. It was a good pie, but it could have been even better.

Recipe: "Lattice-Top Peach Pie" by Rose Levy Beranbaum, recipe available here from Fine Cooking.