At the beginning of August, Paul and I went on our first real vacation trip together. We’ve gone to cottages for a few days, on one-day trips, on visits to friends and family in Montréal – but we’ve never just saved and planned and picked a place that is kind of far away and then gone to visit it. At the start of August, we went to Portland, Oregon. People ask us why we chose it, especially whether it had to do at all with the television show Portlandia, which, naturally, we love. I’d be lying if I said it had absolutely nothing to do with the impression that you get of that city from that show, but I think for us it was more about going somewhere that felt farther than some of the other options (Chicago, Pittsburgh) while not being prohibitively expensive to get and stay there (like San Francisco). We wanted to go somewhere where we could experience a city and do and see city things, while also having the chance to do more nature-y, outdoorsy things. Portland made sense. We had a great time.
This was the first pie I made when we got back. I made two pies that week to make up for the week that we were away, and you’ll hear about the 2nd one soon enough. I thought about trying to make a pie while we were in Portland – we stayed in a house, and so we did have access to a kitchen, and I kind of really wanted to try and make a pie with some local Oregon fruit (marionberries, anyone?) but in the end, it didn’t happen. This was a pie that I sort of threw together one evening on a whim. I basically wanted to make a peach pie (one of my two favourite pies of all time) but I didn’t have enough peaches on hand. As you know, I love the addition of almond extract in my cherry pies, and saw that almond was paired with nectarines in a Smitten Kitchen recipe also. So I went for it. Normally when you make a peach pie, you peel the peaches. But this time I just decided I wasn’t going to bother. I mixed the whole filling in my 4 cup measuring cup, and it seemed like this pie was a little too easy. But I gotta say, it was one of my best crusts yet, for sure. I was shocked at how flaky it was when I was eating it, and suddenly felt like maybe i’m really learning things!
I’m finding that friends are now turning to me for pie advice – yesterday one friend called me for help (and referred to me as the Pie Doctor to which I then sang Dr. Pie to the tune of this) and another friend served me a pie she’d made and asked me to give her constructive criticism for her to improve her pastry. I’m finding that I don’t know what to tell people about how to improve their crust – I’ve noticed such an improvement in my pie crusts since starting this project, but I’m not doing anything differently exactly. I’m just getting better, I think. I don’t have to think about what I’m doing anymore, I barely have to pay attention, though I am paying attention. I just am starting to have a feel for it. It’s hard to explain I guess, but I think its really the same as improving on anything – I felt the same way when I realized that I’d finally truly become bilingual (something I’ve sadly lost since leaving La Belle Province) – suddenly, I got jokes in French but couldn’t explain them in English. It’s funny how sometimes getting good at something means that you can’t explain it anymore – in that case, I guess I was finally thinking in French. Maybe I’m finally thinking in pie. I don’t know. Anyways, this pastry was mad flaky, and I posted a photo on the internetz at the time that I will share again here.
- one single crust pastry recipe
- 2 Tbsp. ground almonds
- 1/4 cup sugar
- approx. 1 lb ripe peaches
- 1 Tbsp. instant tapioca
- splash of vanilla extract (optional)
- splash of lemon juice (optional)
- one egg, beaten, for egg wash (optional)
- coarse sugar, for sprinkling on top (optional)
Slice peaches. Combine with ground almonds, sugar, tapioca, and vanilla and/or lemon, if using. Set aside.
Roll out your dough to a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread your peach filling on top. Fold up crust edges to form a rough circle, working to ensure that there are no gaps where filling could escape. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until it is nicely browned and bubbly. As always, you can throw it on broil for a few minutes at the end if you want to brown up the crust a bit more. Let cool, and then devour for dessert, breakfast, or whatever.