I see so many recipes online and think, “I’ll bookmark that for later.” I probably make 1% of those recipes. This recipe for Peach Pie with Roasted Sugar is one you have to make right now. As in, within the next week or so. Because in a month, you won’t be finding perfectly ripe peaches at farmer’s markets or even at the grocery store.
You could save the recipe for next summer. But who wants to wait that long for a slice of pie made with perfectly ripe, local peaches? I found these at Chicago’s Lincoln Square Farmer’s Market. According to the farmer, the last weekend in September is usually your final chance to get peaches before they’re gone for the year.
The recipe is a little bit more involved than recipes that I usually share. But that’s for good reason. It’s a labor of love for one thing I hold dear: girlfriends. It’s the kind of pie where you invite your girlfriends, brew some coffee and tea, and sit down for a nice, long chat.
The table is set on a tablecloth stitched by my Grandma Verie, and it says the following:
“If it be just cake and tea, or coffee with a tart,
I’m happy when you are with me, and sad when we must part.”
I can just imagine her putting up a card table, setting this tablecloth on top, and inviting her girlfriends over for pie and a game of bridge. She and my Papa Sam were farmers, and they had a peach tree. She made the best canned peaches, and I’m sure peach pie was in her repertoire as well.
This particular peach pie has a classic lattice crust and a filling chock full of ripe peaches. It also has one unique ingredient: roasted sugar.
I stumbled across the idea for Roasted Sugar from Food52. It came from a cookbook called BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks. In it, she explains that she once worked in a cold restaurant kitchen. It was so cold that the cake batters wouldn’t cream properly, so she warmed the sugar in a low oven to offset the chill.
One day, she placed the sugar in the oven and promptly forgot about it. As soon as the scent of caramel drifted to her, and she ran toward the oven expecting to find a bubbling mess of scorched sugar. Instead, she found the sugar lightly brown but still in its granular form.
She whipped the light brown sugar into a meringue and was smitten with the result: a light and fluffy dessert with notes of caramel and a gorgeous ivory hue.
When I read her story, I was intrigued. Here was an ingredient that acts exactly like white granulated sugar, but had a toasty, caramel-like flavor. It turns out that it can be used 1:1 for white sugar in really any recipe you choose. It may get lost in heavy, flavorful desserts like brownies, but in something delicate like a peach pie? You can taste it! I’m trying it in sugar cookies next.
I made my own crust for this pie, which is easy to do with a food processor. I pulse the flour, salt, and sugar with the butter until I see lumps of butter that are slightly larger than a pea.
Then I add water until a loose dough is formed. It should still be relatively crumbly, but hold together when you pinch it with your fingers.
Next, I divide the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and chill them for one hour before you proceed with the filling.
A lattice crust is relatively simple to make. After I rolled out the first disk of dough and filled the pie with the peach filling, I rolled out the second disk of dough. I used a ruler to help me cut the dough into ½ inch slices. See the instructions in the recipe below for specific steps to place the lattice on top!
When it’s time to serve the pie, get out your best dishes! I used my wedding china here, which is this Wedgwood Vera Lace Five-Piece Place Setting by Vera Wang. Then brew some coffee or tea (a ginger tea would be perfect here), and sit down with your girlfriends to enjoy pie and conversation.
I love a good conversation starter, so how about asking this one: “What’s something nice that someone did for you lately?”
I’ll go first. Earlier this week, someone offered to make an introduction/connection for me. I was humbled and so appreciative!
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Peach Pie with Roasted Sugar
Yield 6–8 servings
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- ⅓–½ cup ice water
- 1 egg for brushing the top before baking
Peach pie filling:
- 2½ lbs ripe peaches (about 6 large peaches)
- ½ cup granulated sugar or roasted sugar (recipe below)
- 2½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Cut the butter into ½ inch pieces. Add the butter to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse 12–15 times, or until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is a little larger than a pea. Add ⅓ cup water. Pulse until the mixture forms a loose dough. It may be a little crumbly—this is ok. If it’s too crumbly to form a dough, add additional ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Place two 12x16 inch pieces of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Divide the dough between the two pieces of plastic wrap. Use your hands to gently form the dough into a flat disk. Tightly wrap the remaining plastic wrap around the disk. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
- Remove one disk of dough and place on a floured surface. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. I find that rotating the dough 45° after every roll of the rolling pin ensures a circular shaped crust (or thereabouts—it doesn’t have to be perfect).
- Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the additional crust on the edges, leaving ½ inch of dough as an overhang. Place the pie plate in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
- Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Score the bottom of each peach with an “x” with a paring knife, about 1x1 inches.
- Prepare a bowl full of ice water. Gently lower the peaches into the boiling water. Allow to cook for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peaches from the boiling water and place into the bowl of ice water. Allow to cool.
- When the peaches are cool, use a paring knife or your fingers to gently peel the skin away from each peach. Discard the skins. Cut each peach in half and cut into ¼ inch slices.
- In a large bowl, combine the peaches with the cornstarch, sugar or roasted sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and a small pinch of salt. Toss gently to combine.
- Remove the second dough disk from the refrigerator. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. Cut the dough into ½ inch thick strips.
- Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator. Pour the peach mixture into the dish. Place 6–8 dough strips on vertically on top, depending on how tight you’d like the lattice crust. Peel back every other strip and begin to build a lattice crust, alternating over and then under for each strip that you place horizontally on the pie. Trim the strips to the same length as the ½ inch overhang of the bottom crust. Use your fingers to gently press the strips against the bottom crust. Fold the edges toward the center and push to seal with your fingers. Place the pie in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Remove the pie from the refrigerator and gently brush to top of the dough with the egg wash. Place in the middle of the oven. Place a baking sheet below the pie in case it overflows. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for 30–40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the top starts to brown too quickly, place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely on top.
- Let cool for at least an hour so that the filling sets. Slice and serve with vanilla bean ice cream.
Tip: No time to make pie crust? Use store-bought instead. Chicago friends, Rustic Tart makes one that’s incredible. Just make sure you buy enough to make two pies!
Yield 4 cups
The unique baking process adds notes of caramel and toast to regular granulated sugar. Adapted from Food 52.
- 4 cups granulated white sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. (My oven runs hot, so I set mine to 315°F to be safe.) Place the sugar in a 8x8 inch glass dish. Roast for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, or until the sugar is light brown and smells toasted.
- Place the dish on a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 1 hour, or until all of the sugar is at room temperature.
- The sugar can be stored for up to one year in an airtight container.
Tip: You can use the remaining sugar in baked goods or anywhere that you’d use regular sugar.