Peach Melba Pie

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It’s definitely stone fruit season and I bought a flat of peaches a few weeks ago for the purpose of canning. We ended up with a lot of jars but with 12 pounds of peaches, there were still some left over. One and a half pounds to be exact.

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Peach pie is a pretty perfect summer dessert and Smitten Kitchen recently made an ode to the streamlined peach pie. It looks beautiful and delicious. That’s all well and good, but I couldn’t help but gild the lily. How about adding some raspberries.

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I mean, peach and raspberry is a classic combination. Escoffier named a sauce made with the two and draped over vanilla ice cream ‘Peach Melba’ after the famous opera singer, Nellie Melba. I know it’s an extra ingredient but I really didn’t think it could go wrong.

It couldn’t. This pie is delicious.

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One of the problems with peach pie, and pretty much all fruit pie when you get down to it, is making sure the filling sets. There are several ways to go about this. One is to pick fruits high in pectin. Pectin is a natural chemical in fruit and helps liquid become gel. It’s what’s used to make jelly set and it can keep pies from running. But that doesn’t help if you want peach pie because peaches are low in pectin.

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Another solution is to add a starch like corn starch or tapioca starch which are both popular. But too much starch can change the pie’s flavor.

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A third option is to reduce the liquid before you bake the pie so that there’s less water in the filling. The problem with option three is that cooking the fruit ahead of time makes it break down and the taste isn’t as good.

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So I used a recipe that combined options two and three and tweaked it for the addition of raspberries. Macerating the fruit releases the juices and then you can reduce the liquid without cooking the peach slices. Adding cornstarch is like insurance to make sure the pie sets but I didn’t need too much so you can’t taste it.

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Raspberries add a great tartness to the sweet peaches and I even added some cinnamon and ginger to the crust to complement the raspberries. So I’ll probably be sticking to this recipe, simplicity be damned.

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Peach Melba Pie
Lightly adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Two batches flaky pie crust with 2 tsp ground cinnamon added

1 ½ pounds peaches, peeled* and sliced
¾ – 1 pound raspberries (1 pint)
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
Juice of half a lemon
4 tsp cornstarch

Prepare the pie crust and let it rest in fridge for about an hour.

Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl with the raspberries, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Allow it to macerate for at least 30 minutes.

Strain the now juicy peaches and collect the liquid in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and let it reduce down to about 1/3 cup of liquid. Toss the peaches well with the cornstarch.

While the liquid is reducing, roll out half of the pie dough to fit in the pie pan and tuck it into the corners. It should end up about ¼ inch thick.

At this point, you need to preheat the oven to 425F.

When the liquid is reduced, stir it into the peaches. The liquid may harden a bit but it will spread evenly in the oven.

Roll out the second half of the dough and drape it over the top of the pie. Pinch the two crusts together by using your thumb on one side of the dough and your index and middle finger on the other side and on either side of your thumb. You can make a lattice if you want (using this pretty great tutorial ) or just cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to vent out.

Place the pie on a sheet pan covered in foil (to catch drips) and bake the pie for 40 minutes or until the juice is bubbly and the crust is browned. You may need to cover the edges of the pie with foil about 20 minutes to keep them from burning.

Let the pie cool for at least 3 hours before serving. The longer it cools, the better it will set. Once the filling is set, it will stay set even if you warm it up later. Serve it as soon as it’s set or store it in the fridge for up to one week.

* Yes you need to peel the peaches. It’s not very hard but it is messy so do it over a bowl to catch the juice. And make sure your peeler is sharp or it will go poorly.

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