I love fruit pies, and while a good apple pie is delicious, peach pie is by far my favorite. Pie baking is a skill that takes time to master, but it isn't nearly as hard as most people think. When I was in college, I turned to my grandma to teach me to make pies. She confessed that she wasn't really the best baker, but we always loved her pies so I considered her a worthy choice for a teacher. We made a crumb-top peach pie and a coconut cream pie. I left our lesson with some recipes, some leftover pie, and a beginning knowledge of pie-baking.
In the years since, I've baked many different pies for holidays, birthdays, and just because. My skills have improved and I have a collection of pie recipes that I like to use. I've learned from reading many cooking books and blog posts, that pie crust recipes are highly personal. Everyone has a theory as to which fats are best and which secret ingredients are a must, all in the pursuit of a flavorful and flaky pie crust. I strayed from my grandma's pie crust recipe once and I'll never do it again. I like it and it works for me, so I'm sticking to it.
So, here is my grandma's pie crust recipe and my aunt's peach pie recipe with my notes and tips.
Makes 2 crusts (enough for one two-crust pie or two single-crust pies)
1 ½ C. flour
½ tsp. Salt
¼ C. lard
¼ C. crisco (I like to use butter flavored and I keep this chilled.)½ tsp. Baking powder
5 to 6 Tbsp. Cold water (you want this very cold-I use ice water.)
Mix flour and salt in bowl. Cut in lard and crisco with a pastry cutter or crumble it in with your fingers. Add baking powder and continue to combine. Add water, one tablespoon at at time. Stirring just until combined. Mold into two balls of dough, then flatten each into a small disc. Wrap each in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (If you're only going to use one disc, the other disc can be frozen for use at another time.) Unwrap chilled dough and roll out on a well-floured surface (I love using this mat for rolling out pie crust, biscuits, and cookies, but it's not required). Transfer to a pie pan by rolling crust onto a rolling pin and then unrolling over pan.
Peach Pie Filling:
4-5 ripe peaches
1 C. sugar
1/3 C. flour
2 tsp. Lemon juice
½ tsp. Cinnamon
5 Tbsp. Margarine or butter
2/3 C. flour
½ C. sugar
Peel and slice peaches. (For easy peeling put peaches in a pot of boiling water for a minute. Remove and run under cold water. The skin will peel off easily with your fingers.) Combine filling ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie crust. Blend topping and sprinkle on top. Refrigerate pie for ten minutes before baking. Bake 25-30 min at 400 degrees, then 30 min. at 350 degrees.
One last note about pies...I used to worry about my pies looking perfect. However, I've learned that when pies aren't perfect (i.e., bubbled over filling, imperfect crimping on the edges, etc.) it just makes them look homemade. And a homemade pie always tastes wonderful even if they wouldn't win a ribbon at the fair.