Week 1: peach ginger pie is a good place to start

We grow good peaches here (and by “we” I mean the wonderful farmers in our lovely province, not “we” as in us two city-dwellers who grow tomatoes and cosmos on our back porch that is not much bigger than a postage stamp). So this year, Ontario has grown particularly good peaches. Juice-dripping-down-your-chin type of peaches. I haven’t had a mealy one yet. They’re just sweet enough, with a hint of zingy tartness at the end of every mouthful and beautifully rosy to boot. They’re not just tasty peaches, they’re pretty peaches. I like looking at them nuzzling up to each other all cozy in their cardboard basket.

It’s almost a shame to eat them they’re so perfect.

Given that, I couldn’t have chosen a better fruit to begin my (perfect) pie project. Also, I’d say that peach pie is up there with apple and blueberry and pumpkin and lemon meringue and cherry as one of the iconic pies. It feels right to start with a classic. You imagine someone’s granny being famous for her dynamite peach pie. Probably a granny with a southern accent who isn’t afraid to brandish her rolling-pin and chase a delinquent grandkid around the kitchen.

I am nobody’s granny and I sure don’t have a southern accent and I have never made peach pie. Correction: I have made one peach pie.

I am proud to say it was a good beginning.

In my search for the first pie recipe, I discovered some fellow pie people, pie bloggers in fact. I found Good Egg, who doesn’t just make pies, she also writes pie poems. It didn’t take me long to decide that I like Good Egg. You should like her too. She takes lovely pictures and has a friendly writing style. Also, I’m pretty sure she makes great pie. Evidence: her peach ginger pie won a “Cake vs. Pie” showdown at Cakespy. When I read this, I said to myself, “Self, you will make this pie. This will be Pie #1.” (I think this speaks volumes about my perfectionism that a big part of my motivation in choosing this pie first is the fact that it had already proven itself a prizewinning pie. Might as well be honest).

I used Kate’s piecrust recipe, which was a breeze to work with and deliciously flaky. I made a few little changes to her filling recipe when it came to quantities for the dried spices. I upped everything, since I find many recipes to be under-spiced for my taste:

5 large, ripe peaches or 7 medium
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup clover honey
2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tapioca flour
demerara sugar (for dusting)

I followed her method. Here’s the pie on the way into the oven:

Just out of the oven:

Things that were perfect:

  1. The honey peach scent while baking. Heaven.
  2. The way that all of the honey that I poured over the peaches did something magical, making them a little floral, and somehow peachier. It surprised me that so much honey didn’t overwhelm the peach flavour. Instead, it transformed them into the peachiest possible versions of themselves.
  3. The way that the little bit of spice snuck up at the end of every bite. Grandma didn’t do that, did she?
  4. The consistency of the filling – not gloopy, not watery. Oozy. Delightfully so.

Things I’d try next time:

  1. Rolling the crust thinner. At the time, it felt to me like I was already rolling it crazy thin because I was stretching the recipe to fit into a 10 inch plate, but I think the edge where the top and bottom crusts met was a bit too thick. (Although it’s hard to say because the edge bit is usually my favourite bit of the pie, what about you? I save it to the end every time).
  2. Grating the fresh ginger, or chopping it up even smaller (and maybe using a touch less – that’s powerful stuff). I think it would make the spice in each bite even more perfectly balanced.
  3. Crust shield. Crust shield. Crust shield. The edge was a bit too dark for me to say it was truly pretty enough. I admit that a good part of me didn’t want to post the “out of the oven” picture because I had wanted my first pie to be a little prettier. Okay… stunning. But I promised to show every pie here, no matter what. No cheating. It sure looked prize-winning once cut though, since you could see all the glowy peach slices and the saucy goodness spilled out over the plate in a tangerine pool, just right for floating a scoop of vanilla ice cream on. I wish I’d taken a slice picture. Lesson learned.

So there we have it. Pie #1. A pie to be proud of. A pie that makes me want to make more pie, which is a good place to begin.

Finally, in an effort to recognize that every pie is in some way perfect, I have decided to award each of my pies a prize. Peach ginger gets…

yummiest sneakily spicy pie 

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