I’m not a baker. I rarely make desserts. The main reason for this is that most dessert/baking requires precision and measuring, things that I’m not really inclined to do when I cook. Many baked goods can go horribly wrong if you’re not exact with your measurements and it’s just not what I’m comfortable with. Tonight, my shepherding group at church was having a corn roast and everyone was asked to bring a fruit pie for an informal pie contest. (!!!!!!!) I was perturbed at first, then I thought maybe I would just buy a pie and not enter it in the contest, and finally decided I would attempt to make one.
I think most people will agree with me that the most difficult thing about a pie is the crust. My friend, Susan, swears by oil crusts and insists they’re easier, so I scoured the internet until I found one that looked simple enough. Since peaches are in season right now and there’s a great farm stand around the corner from my house that sells amazing peaches, I didn’t have to think very hard about what kind of pie I would make. Again, I pored over recipes until I found 3 peach pie fillings that had elements I wanted to use. I had no idea if it was even going to be edible since the last time I baked a pie was probably when I was in high school, and the thing with a pie is that there’s really no way to sneak a taste after it’s done! Thankfully, it turned out quite nicely, and I won first prize in the Peach and Ginger pie category (my pie was the only pie in this category, and everyone who baked a pie won first place in their category… I guess I wouldn’t have made as much of an effort to be creative if I had known it wasn’t a real contest. Since it turned out to be so tasty, I’m glad I didn’t know!)
peach and ginger pie
for the crust:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 cup coconut oil
- 4 tbsp almond milk
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped finely
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
for the filling:
- 6 large peaches
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 “thumb-sized” piece of ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp dark rum (optional)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 4 tsp corn starch
Begin with the pie crust by whisking together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk together the oil and milk and then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Remove approximately 1 and 1/4 cups of the mixture and set aside. This will be used to make the crumb topping. Put the remaining dough in a lightly-greased 9-inch pie pan. Begin pressing the dough into the bottom of the pan and up the sides until it is even all around and there are no empty spots. Set aside while you make the filling.
Cut a small X on the bottom of your peaches. Place the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then place into an ice bath. The skin should loosen enough for you to peel them — my peaches were still firm so the skin was reluctant to come off. I decided that since I usually eat my peaches with the skin on, I would leave them alone. Slice the peaches into wedges, approximately 16 wedges per peach. Place the peach slices in a bowl and add the grated ginger, lemon juice, sugar, rum (optional), cinnamon, and ground ginger. Let this mixture marinate for 30 minutes up to an hour.
Meanwhile, take your reserved 1 and 1/4 cups pie crust and place in a small bowl. Add the chopped crystallized ginger, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Use a fork to flake the mixture into small crumb-like pieces. Set aside. Once your peaches have marinated, place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the peach mixture into the strainer to drain off the excess liquid. Put the peaches into another bowl and add the corn starch, tossing until the all the peaches are coated. Pour the excess liquid that you drained off into a small saucepan. Boil over high heat and it begins to reduce and become syrupy. It can caramelize quickly so keep an eye on it — you want it to reduce to about 1/3 cup of liquid. Remove from heat and pour over the peaches, stirring again to coat in the caramelized mixture.
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Pour the peach mixture into your bottom crust, including all of the caramelized liquid. (You can arrange the peaches in circular layers in the pan if you want, which is what I did, even though you won’t really see it under the crumb topping. I thought it would make the filling lie flatter, and the pieces keep together better when you cut the pie. I don’t know if it made a difference or not, but it looked pretty). Spoon or shake out your crumb topping evenly over the top of the peach filling.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until the top is golden and the juices are bubbling. Check your pie 20-30 minutes in to make sure the crust is not burning — if it is browning too quickly, place foil over the edges.
Let cool for at least 3 hours before serving.