A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my birthday. Because we now live in a house with a yard, I was thrilled to plan the epic dinner party of my dreams. As it turned out, it was more like the simple dinner party of my dreams, which is actually just thing for an August evening. That night, rain fell for a while early, but the skies cleared and our friends sprung into action setting up tables, chairs, and citronella candles. We started with these peach shrubs; then by tiki and candlelight, had a lowcountry boil for dinner (look for a recipe next week) and for dessert, lattice-top peach slab pie. There’s almost nothing better than a cookie sheet full of pie, especially one made with fragrant yellow peaches in all their summery perfection. We served the peach pie with lemon verbena ice cream, and ate as storm clouds blew through and stars appeared.
A slab pie has a lot going for it. Because the filling is in a thin layer, there are fewer concerns about whether or not it will set properly. This also means that it’s a little more like pastry than pie. I opted for yellow peaches in my filling, which were preferable to the clean sweetness of white peaches. I kept the filling absolutely simple to highlight the peaches themselves. With the peel left on, the filling had a hint of bitterness, which I loved; if bitterness isn’t your thing, peel your peaches.
This year, the summer has been so good. Mild, and beautiful, and filled with exactly the kind of ease I always craved back in Brooklyn. As things edge toward fall, I realize I need to eat more pie. You, my friend, do too.
Oh! And I almost forgot to mention that we have a record two giveaways happening right now on the blog. First, we’re giving away a sample pack of delicious Great Midwest Cheeses; get all the info here. Second, we’re offering up a nice selection of Mezzetta foods including olives, peppers, and spreads, and you can get that info here. Enter! Get good stuff!
Lattice-Top Peach Slab Pie (adapted from this apple slab pie recipe)
serves between 12 and 25, depending how you slice it
for the all-butter crust
(proportions listed for one layer, you’ll need to make two)
The recipe below is for half of the needed dough. I make mine in the food processor, and one batch is all mine can handle. If you have a big food processor, or cut your dough in by hand, go ahead and make two batches at once. Otherwise, make two batches, one at a time.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
16 tablespoons cold butter
2/3 cup ice water
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of your food processor. Chop the cold butter, and add to the flour mixture by pulsing several times. Drizzle in the ice water, pulsing the food processor just until the dough holds together. (If you are new to pie dough, add a little extra water to help the dough hold together; just add plenty of flour while rolling dough out.)
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disc, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.
Repeat for the second batch of dough.
Chill both discs for 30 minutes, but preferably longer, in the refrigerator. Meanwhile prepare the filling.
for the peach filling
12 medium peaches, washed and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (for about 10 cups total)
zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup turbinado sugar
5 tablespoons pulverized quick-cooking tapioca (grind it in your coffee grinder)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Toss all of the ingredients together and set aside while you roll out the crust.
to assemble the pie
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Grease a half-size rimmed baking sheet (12 x 17 x 1 inches) and set aside. Clear some space in your freezer to chill the bottom crust.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
On a parchment-lined, lightly floured large working space roll out the dough for the bottom crust. Your rectangle should be about 15 x 20 inches. Working quickly, fold the dough into quarters, and unfold in the greased cookie sheet. Trim all but 1 inch of the crust from the edges. Place in the freezer while you prepare the top crust.
Roll out the top crust. With a sharp knife, cut into 1 inch strips.
Remove the bottom crust from the freezer, spoon the filling into the cold shell, and then work quickly to weave your lattice over the top. (For a step-by-step guide on lattice weaving, click here.) Crimp up the edges. Brush the egg white on the top and sprinkle with sugar.
Place in the oven and bake for 45 – 55 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a light golden hue. Cool for several hours before serving.