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Peach While the Peaching Is Good

July 25, 1996|NICK MALGIERI | Malgieri is author of the James Beard Award-winning "How to Bake" (Harper Collins)

Since mid-June the markets have been full of some of the best peaches I have seen in a long time, and a constant succession of peach cobblers, shortcakes, pies and tarts has emerged from my kitchen.

To peel peaches for the recipes, make a small "X" with the tip of a paring knife in the blossom end of each peach. Bring a large pan of water to boil and blanch the peaches, three or four at a time, for less than 1 minute. Lift them with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water set in the sink, then slip off the skins, starting from the cut. If they do not peel easily, they are probably still a little under-ripe. Peel off any areas where the skin remains with a paring knife.

Use a stainless steel paring knife to slice the peaches. Make a cut from stem to blossom end; then make another cut about 1/2-inch from the first, twist the knife slightly and a wedge will fall away from the pit. Continue cutting the peach into 8 to 10 wedges over a bowl until only the pit remains. Repeat with the remaining peaches. To make assembling the pies or tarts easier, prepare the dough in advance and peel and cut the peaches immediately before assembling and baking.

Take advantage of the fact that this has been a banner year for peaches with these three recipes, two for homey pies and one for a sophisticated tart with an almond filling.

OLD-FASHIONED PEACH PIE WITH LATTICE TOP

I like to use a sweet dough for this type of pie. If you prefer a flaky crust, make a double recipe of the flaky dough used in the Peach and Almond Tart.

SWEET DOUGH

2 cups unbleached flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Mix together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in mixing bowl. Add butter and rub in, using fingertips or pastry blender, making sure mixture does not become pasty but remains cool and powdery. Stir in eggs with fork and continue stirring until dough masses together.

Scrape dough onto work surface and knead gently 2 or 3 times. Shape dough into ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or until firm.

FILLING

3 pounds peaches (about 8 large)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3 tablespoons butter

1 egg mixed with dash salt for egg wash

Peel and slice peaches into mixing bowl. Stir together sugar, flour and nutmeg in separate bowl and set aside. Do not combine with peaches until bottom crust is ready.

To assemble, cut dough in half and form each half into disk. On lightly floured surface, roll 1 portion into 12-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Ease dough into 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim away any dough that hangs over rim of pan with back of knife.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons reserved sugar-flour mixture on dough. Gently fold remaining into peaches. Spoon filling into dough-lined pan. Sprinkle with almond extract and dot with butter.

Roll remaining half of dough into 10-inch square. Cut into 10 (1-inch-wide) strips, using pastry wheel. Brush edge of bottom crust and strips of dough with egg wash. Arrange 5 strips on filling, egg wash-side down, parallel to each other, about 1-inch apart. Arrange remaining strips on first ones and perpendicular to them. Trim away any overhanging edges with back of knife. Dip fork in egg wash and press gently into edge of crust to make sure strips adhere, dipping it often in egg wash.

Bake pie on middle rack at 400 degrees about 20 minutes or until top crust is beginning to color. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden and filling is beginning to bubble, about 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Cool pie on rack. Serve on day it is baked, although leftover pie will keep well 1 to 2 days at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

412 calories; 310 mg sodium; 122 mg cholesterol; 18 grams fat; 58 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.65 gram fiber.

PEACH AND SOUR CREAM PIE WITH CRUMB TOPPING

Use this recipe later in the year with apples or pears and add a few raisins or currants to the filling.

1/2 recipe Sweet Dough

2 pounds peaches

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 eggs

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/4 cups unbleached flour

Prepare Sweet Dough as directed and chill. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 12-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Ease dough into 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim away all but 1/2-inch excess dough. Fold overhanging dough under to form neat edge and flute edge.

Peel and slice peaches and spoon into crust.

Place sour cream in mixing bowl. Mix together granulated sugar, flour and nutmeg in separate dish, then whisk into sour cream. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time. Pour over peaches, shaking pie plate slightly so that sour cream mixture combines well with peaches.

Melt butter in small saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon, then flour. Let stand 1 minute. Rub mixture with fingertips until fine crumbs form. Scatter crumbs evenly over filling.

Bake pie on middle rack at 350 degrees until crust and crumbs are golden and filling is set, about 40 minutes. Cool pie on rack. Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

498 calories; 270 mg sodium; 159 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 66 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 0.66 gram fiber.

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