Texas Hill Country Peach Pie
In addition to being the center of the Texas wine industry, the Texas Hill Country is famous for its peaches. In fact, in the heart of the Hill Country is Gillespie County, the leading peach producing county in the state, which includes, among others, the cities of Fredericksburg, Stonewall, and Luckenbach (made even more famous by Waylon and Willie and the Boys).
During the summer months, roadside stands and farmers’ markets throughout the Hill Country are lined with baskets of the growers’ freshly picked fruit. Even in my own backyard, I’m able to grow enough peaches to make numerous pies, preserves, and to share with family and friends.
Following is my favorite way to prepare peaches:
Texas Hill Country Peach Pie
The secret to a flaky pie crust is to keep the ingredients cold up until the point of baking. I prefer to use a minimal amount of spices in my pie filling to allow the fresh flavor the peaches to really come through.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco preferred), chilled
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, divided
1/2 cup water, ice-cold
8 – 10 fresh peaches (approximately 5 cups when peeled and sliced)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling the lattice top (approximately 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons potato starch
In a large food processor, process the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the shortening and process until combined, approximately 10 to 15 seconds. Next, add the butter pieces evenly across the flour mixture, and process until combined, approximately 10 seconds.
Pour the mixture into a medium bowl. Add the ice water and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix until the dough comes together.
Divide the dough into two evenly sized balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
While the dough is cooling, bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully add the fresh peaches to the boiling water and blanch for approximately 1 minute. Remove the peaches from the water and set aside to cool.
Adjust your oven rack to the lowest position, and begin preheating your oven to 425 degrees.
After the peaches have cooled, peel and evenly slice them. Then, in a medium bowl, combine the peach slices, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and potato starch. Set aside.
Remove one ball of dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough on a 9-inch pie plate and gently press into the shape of the plate (allow the extra to hang over the rim of the plate).
Remove the second ball of dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough into a rectangular shape (approximately 1/8 inch thick and 14 inches long). Using a pastry knife or pairing knife, cut the dough into eight strips (approximately 1 1/2 inches thick). Set aside.
Pour the peach mixture into the pie shell. Then, working in a criss-cross pattern, one strip at a time, place four of the strips across the pie, and interlace the remaining four strips perpendicular to the other four.
Crimp the edges of the dough around the pie plate, securing the strips and removing any excess dough.
Lightly brush water across the strips, then evenly sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Place the pie in the oven. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Rotate the pie. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, approximately 25 additional minutes.
Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool at least two hours before serving.
For more information on Texas Hill Country peaches, check out this Guide to Finding Texas Hill Country Peaches prepared by the Hill Country Fruit Council.