Humble peach pie
Peach season is officially over by now, and I must confess I don't have anymore peaches stored at home right now. This humble pie was baked - and duly savoured - a while ago. Yet, it is something that can be easily scraped with canned peaches as well, so I thought I might as well use it for the blog, seeing that it's been photographed and all!!
I'm actually a nectarine kind of person, really. The furry skin on peaches tends to gross me out a little, so I always have to peel them, when as for nectarines I can eat them whole, and boy, d I love eating my fruit with its skin on. Except if we're talking bananas. Or oranges, clementines, mandarines. Well, you know what I mean. I also like those small paraguaio peaches, the ones that look as if they've been knocked on the head with a hammer, you know? They're really quite good, and juicy. But not for pie. Trust me, not for pie.
For pies I'm rather fond of those big, ripe peaches, dripping with honeyedjuices, tender and sweet. Those that when you peel them and slice them, they kind of look like they're canned fruit, you know? Those are the ones that work the best, at least for my tastebuds. And this is so easy to scrape together, just imagine, it's friday and you just got home from work, but you're having people over, or going to someone's for dinner, and you're in charge of dessert. You don't have that much time, and this is something that will take about half an hour to put together. So how do you go about it?
For this recipe, you'll need some custard. Now, custard is a mean bastard, I'm sorry to say. I love it, but I can still remember the first custard I tried making, and it was all lumps and so gross I had to toss it in the bin. Custard, like lemon curd or risotto, begs for patience, and I have only come across said thing lately.
For the custard you need two large free range egg yolks, 250ml of milk - use cream if you're feeling rather decadent! - 25gr caster sugar, 1 vanilla pod cut in half, seeds scraped, or a teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of cornflour (feel free to use just one and if you see the custard is not setting, then sieve in the second spoon). You start by placing a pan with two fingers of water on your stove, and let it come to a simmer. I go for the bain marie technique as I find it easier to control, although you can cook the custard over direct heat as well, if you can handle it. Place a bowl on top of that pan, making sure the bottom of it does not come in contact with the simmering water, and let the milk infuse with the vanilla over a low heat until you can see small bubbles breaking the surface. Do not let it boil, please. On another bowl whisk the egg yolks and the sugar, and as soon as the milk is warm enough, add three tablespoons, one at a time, of vanilla infused hot milk to the egg and sugar mixture. Whisk thoroughly and then add this to the rest of the milk, placing it back over the pan with the simmering water. Sieve in the cornflour and keep whisking it, until it starts to thicken.
Once it's thickened enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon and not drip, get it ff the heat, cover with cling film so it doesn't form a skin, and start peeling and slicing those peaches, you'll need about four if they're large ones.
Once the custard is cool enough, fill in the pastry shells, or shell if you opted for one large pie, taking them to the oven at 180º for about 20m - keep an eye on it, as every oven is different and the time and temperatures might differ - and once they're baked, let them cool for a while over a rack, and then cover with the peaches, dusting them with a generous amount of icing sugar. And that's that, really. You can use a cooking torch to add some colour to your peaches and caramelize your sugar, or pop the pies back into the oven for a quick spell under the grill to the same effect, or just leave them be, they're delicious just like that.