Sometimes I can drive myself crazy.

If I could just relent and buy a pie crust, I could have a pie in the oven in minutes.

But no-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o…… I have to make them from scratch because what would the neighbors think?!?

Or something.

Okay, that’s not the real reason.  Reality is, making a pie crust from scratch takes less time than thawing one.  Messier, but quicker.

And infinitely better.

I have friends – even very accomplished cooks – who are intimidated by pie crusts.  There’s no reason to be.  Even a tough homemade crust is better than a store-bought. And the food processor has made crust-making fool-proof.

I think part of the reason is advertisers really harp upon the perfection of their products versus a homemade product.  They set up the intimidation by telling you right off the bat you can’t make something as good as what they are selling you and then proceed to mock your efforts and telling you your family/friends/loved ones/whomever deserve the best and you can’t deliver it on your own.

Balderdash, says I!

I caught a few minutes of Ina Garten on TV today.  She was making a tiered chocolate cake with a butter cream icing.    She was decorating it with pastry tubes and said “You don’t want it to look like it just came from a  bakery.  What fun would that be?”

I thought those were some of the best words a person could ever say.  Really.  A little less emphasis on perfection and a little bit more on having fun can bring the confidence level way up!

I think one of the reasons I make a good pie crust is that I’m not afraid to make a bad one.  That’s not to say that I can’t get neurotic at times and do things like forget to put the potatoes in the clam chowder that I’m serving to dear friends who have never stayed with us before…  But they are few and far between.

My motto really is “The worst thing that can happen is we throw it out and call for pizza.”

And in all these years I haven’t called for pizza – yet.  (That’s not to say there haven’t been a few meals that won’t be repeated any time soon.)

The pie crust recipe I use started off as Julia Child’s Food Processor Pie Dough and then just kept getting changed and tweaked over the years.  This really is fool-proof.  It makes enough for a generous 10″ deep double crust.

Try it with 2/3 butter and 1/3 lard (not shortening) if you have it available.

Perfect Pie Crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup pastry/cake flour
  • 2 sticks butter, frozen
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Using a food processor, add flours, salt, and sugar. Pulse to mix.

Chop up frozen butter and add. Pulse until butter is incorporated and mixture looks grainy.

Slowly add ice water and pulse until mixed.

Turn out onto counter. Press and form mixture into two disks . Wrap in plastic and refrigerate about an hour to allow the flour to properly absorb the water and to relax the gluten.

Roll out crust and place in pie plate. Crimp edges and fill.

I have never been a good “edge-crimper.”  It’s amazing for the amount of pies I’ve made in my life that it’s a skill-set I’ve never really mastered.  I’ve watched in awe as others have whipped around a pie in seconds flat.  I’m just not one of them.

I still sleep well at night.

The peach filling for tonight’s pie comes via Bon Appetit magazine.  I’ve made this one before.  It’s really good.

Here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit.  I don’t do the vanilla bean with the sugar and all that.  I add a teaspoon of vanilla to the peaches.  I also brush the crust with an egg wash.

Peach Pie with Cardamom

  • 2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) ground cardamom
  • 3 3/4 pounds firm but ripe unpeeled peaches, halved, pitted, each half cut into 4 slices (about 10 cups)
  • 2 Best-Ever Pie Crust dough disks
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Whipping cream (for glaze)

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Combine 2/3 cup sugar and vanilla bean in processor; blend until vanilla bean is very finely minced. Sift vanilla sugar through strainer into large bowl; discard any large bits in strainer. Mix flour and cardamom into vanilla sugar. Add peaches to flour-sugar mixture and toss gently to coat.

Roll out 1 pie crust disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Spoon peach mixture into crust; dot with butter. Roll out second pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Drape dough over peach filling; trim overhang to 1 1/2 inches. Fold top and bottom edges under, pressing together to seal. Crimp edges decoratively. Using small sharp knife, cut 2-inch-long X in center of top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush crust lightly with whipping cream; sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.

Place pie on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, peaches are tender, and juices bubble thickly through cut in top crust, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool until lukewarm, about 2 hours.

I let it rest about an hour.  I was in a hurry.

It was really good.

Really good.

It’s prime peach season.  Get yourself 4 pounds and get to work.

You won’t be sorry!