Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Potluck Peach Pies

Speaking of bikeable containers for brownies, I think I've found my solution to the biking-to-the-potluck problem. In its purest formulation, the problem goes like this: a good Mennonite woman must rise at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning to milk the cow, pick fresh blackberries, grind fresh flour, make fresh butter, and bake the flakiest pie ever tasted for the church potluck. Once everyone circles around the heavy-laden potluck tables and patiently sings all seven verses of Praise to God, Immortal Praise, she -- the modest, hardworking alto -- works just as carefully to deflect any praise for her pie.

"Well, thanks, but I overbaked it and it bubbled over. Guess I get to clean out the oven tomorrow -- that'll teach me!"
"I think one of the children sat in it on the way to church this morning. Gracious, yours are growing so fast."
"With all the rain last week, I'm afraid the berries just weren't so good. I'm so grateful, though -- sure helps the corn!"
"Oh, no, it wasn't a thing. I just needed to use up those peaches, and you know, they're having a sale on butter at the dent-can store. How do you always get your chow-chow so crisp? "

With a rather thick streak of this potluck-perfectionism running through my veins, I find myself utterly flummoxed by the bicycle. How am I to bike with the perfect pie -- a syrupy peach pie, say -- and have it remain sufficiently intact so I can denigrate it in one piece? I found an awfully appealing solution over at Smitten Kitchen. A solution so appealing, in fact, that M. Sergei threatened to pop my tires so I couldn't leave the house with my two dozen peach hand pies, which I called pielets (like eyelets in a white summer nightgown, like violets under the dogwood, like what girls can be too if you give them wings, like what your mother tells you to do with every armload of firewood).

The pastry here has an unbelievable capacity to stretch and flake and puff.

Peach Pielets

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Combine 2.5 c. cold flour and 1/2 tsp. salt. Grate in 1/2 lb. frozen butter. Cut a bit with a pastry blender to the consistency of coarse meal. In another bowl, mix together 1/2 c. sour cream (or Greek yogurt, which I had on hand), 4 tsp. lemon juice, and 1/2 c. ice water. Make a well in the flour-butter mixture and pour in half the liquids. Stir it about until lumps form; set the lumps aside and add the remaining liquid to the powdery unlumped flour. Pack everything back together again (gently!), cover the bowl with a plate, and refrigerate for an hour.

Place half the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll 1/8" thick. Cut into 4 or 5" circles. Put the circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill while you roll out and cut the remaining dough (including the scraps -- just stack them and re-roll). Let the circles chill half an hour while you make the filling.

For the filling, combine:
2 lbs peaches, peeled and cut into half-inch dice
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 T. bourbon

Take one tray of pastry circles from the fridge. Put a tablespoon of filling in the center of a circle, brush the edge of the circle with water, and fold the circle in half. Press the edges together a bit, and then seal them decoratively with the tines of fork. Make up all the pielets and chill at least half an hour.

Preaheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make an egg wash with 1 egg yolk and 2 T. water. Brush the tops of the chilled pastries with the egg wash and prick a steam-vent in the middle with a sharp knife. Bake until puffy and gilded, about 20 minutes.

5 comments:

Mama JJ said...

This is hilarious!!! Especially the part about the child sitting on the pie. (Once my aunt brought some pies to our house, not a potluck, and one of her boys had stepped on one of them in the car.)

I'm beginning the think that you potluck every day...

-JJ

Zoë said...

Mmm, these look delicious! And you are funny...very good description of a modest Mennonite woman.

By the way, I'm Mama JJ's cousin...I've been reading your blog for some time now, I found you through her. Keep up the good recipes!

Mama JJ said...

Hey Zoe! Your mom is The Aunt I was refering to!

-JJ

Zoë said...

U serious?!? Which boy stepped on the pie?

Rosanna said...

I dare say I do potluck pretty frequently, and pretty frequently with bike-damaged goods. Glad y'all liked it!