WHAT COULD BE more evocative of summer than a lush, fragrant peach? And, when you've had your fill of them raw, try them in the following recipes.
The fresh peach pie, with a cream cheese crust, is wonderful. The recipe comes from "As Easy as Pie" by Susan G. Purdy. This cook book, published in 1984 by Collier Books, is a super reference for anyone interested in pie making.
The Baltimore Peach Cake, a local tradition, is easily our most requested dish in Recipe Finder.
To peel a peach, plunge it into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then cool it immediately in cold water. The peel should slip off easily.
I used cream cheese pastry for the pie crust but any pastry for a two-crust, nine-inch pie would do.
Ready-made pie crusts are available in the frozen food section, but a much better option is Pillsbury's All-Ready pie crusts -- sold in the dairy case of most supermarkets. Following the directions on the package, bring the pastry to room temperature, roll it out with a rolling pin to remove fold marks, and then press it into the pie plate. Nothing could be easier and, while not as good as from-scratch, it's infinitely better than a frozen crust!
Cream cheese pastry is my favorite pie crust. I find it easy to work with as long as I keep it cold. The moment it shows signs of getting ornery -- tearing and sticking to the wax paper -- I pop it back into the refrigerator for a few minutes.
If you find it difficult to pinch the edges of both crusts together, the last step before you bake the pie, place it in the refrigerator for five to 10 minutes then try it again. Sometimes the dough gets too soft and the edges start falling apart.
Fresh Peach Pie
Unbaked cream cheese pastry, recipe below
Egg glaze: 1 whole egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 1/4 pounds medium-sized ripe peaches, peeled and sliced; about 8 medium-size peaches or 5 1/2 cup slices
Juice of 1 lemon
L 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on sweetness of fruit
1/8 teaspoon each nutmeg, cinnamon and mace
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
Prepare the pastry, roll it out between two pieces of wax paper, lightly sprinkled with flour. Line pie plate. Trim one-half-inch pastry overhang. To moisture-proof the lower crust, brush it with egg glaze. Do not bake.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Toss the peaches in a large bowl with lemon juice, sugar, spices and tapioca or cornstarch. Add fruit to pastry-lined pan, mounding it in the center. Dot with butter. Brush egg glaze over the edge of the lower crust. Roll out top crust and fit over fruit. Trim three-quarters inch overhang. Fold top edge under bottom crust overhand and pinch together to seal, making a raised rim all around. Flute edges with a fork. Cut vent holes in top. To glaze pie, if you wish, brush with egg glaze (you may need to make more) and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar or brush with milk only.
Set the pie in the lower third of the preheated oven and bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, raise the pie to the center of the oven and bake at an additional 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Check the pie after it is half-baked and add foil strips to protect the crust if it is browning too fast. Cool on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Pastry
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup lightly salted butter at room temperature (do not substitute margarine)
2 cups all-purpose flour
Cut up cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. With a fork or an electric mixer, blend them together until creamy. Sift the flour directly into the bowl. Blend in flour just until the dough holds together. If it feels too sticky to handle, add a little more flour. Divide the dough in half, wrap in wax paper and chill at least 30 minutes or until needed.
Roll the dough out between two sheets of lightly-floured wax paper. Peel off the top paper, lift the dough on its backing paper, and center it, upside down, over the baking pan. Lower the dough into place and peel off the remaining paper. Continue,
following directions above for pie.
Baltimore Peach Cake
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
Peach topping, recipe below
Sprinkle yeast into very warm water in bowl. Stir to dissolve. Thoroughly cream margarine with sugar in large electric mixer bowl. Add yeast mixture, eggs, flour, salt and milk. Beat at medium speed until blended, about 45 seconds.
Spread in well greased nine-inch square pan. Arrange peach topping on top.
Cover; let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Turn )) out of pan and cool on wire rack.
3 cups sliced peaches
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons melted margarine
Arrange peaches, well drained, on top of batter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over peaches. Sprinkle on melted margarine.