Strictly speaking, it's not quite peach season. It's that odd, in-between month where stone fruit spills over the stands at the grocery store, but hasn't shown up at the farmers' market yet.
But once you start thinking about peach pie, it's really hard to go back. We're already down that path. So we're going to make some pie. Except, the early days of June make 8 ripe peaches hard to come by, so we're going to throw some strawberries in to make up the extra volume!
Fruit pies are not hard to bake, but they require a touch more foresight than other types (pudding pie, you're so easy, I love you). You worry about too much liquid releasing from your fruit and making your crust soggy. So you have to make a few decisions (sorry, but we are all adults here, so let's just do it).
First, should you blind bake your crust first? I don't think you should. You can, and Melissa Clark does, so it's not a bad move. It does add an extra step, and once your bottom crust is baked, it's harder to attach the top crust (since you're sticking raw dough to partially baked dough). If you're making a pie with no top crust, try it!
Here's what you can do instead: Coat the base of your pie with crushed graham crackers. This will help absorb liquid from the fruit and keep your bottom crust crisp (crisp bottoms are the thing to do, repeat that affirmation twice daily).
You can also macerate your fruit in advance. All this means is chop or slice your fruit and toss it with lemon juice and sugar while you roll out your crust. The sugar will encourage the fruit to release its juice. You can then pour out a little bit of that liquid (or reserve it for something like a cocktail) before adding your fruit to the pie crust.
Lastly, you'll need to think about spices. I put cardamom in this pie because it is so good with peaches, like a modern day Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth Bennet-esque romance -- unassuming at first and then he dives into the lake in that white shirt and it is all FIREWORKS. I digress.
You could do cinnamon, or nutmeg, or something less winter-y and warm and more of a summery fresh mint or rosemary or thyme vibe.
The lattice situation is easy to do but hard to make precise and pretty. Here is a tip: Make your lattice very wide; it's more likely to look uniform that way. The loveliest pie wizard, Erin McDowell, has coined the term "fattice" for this sort of wide, fat lattice. I prefer "phattice" because it is an awesome trick.
Peach Strawberry Cardamom Pie
Quick recipe note: This is a nearly classic pie crust recipe, but with more flour and less butter -- that makes the dough firmer and easier to shape into a lattice. Use this crust only for decorative/lattice pies.
Secondly, on the potato starch: If you don't have this, you can substitute Minute tapioca (blitz it in a blender or food processor briefly to grind it into a powder). If you must, you can use cornstarch or flour in place of the potato starch but I don't recommend it -- and nor does Cook's Illustrated and they know their science-y stuff! Flour and cornstarch don't thicken as well, and the taste is not as neutral as potato starch.
3 cups flour
17 tablespoons butter, very cold!
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup ice water
2 graham cracker sheets
8 small peaches (5 medium-large peaches)
1 pint strawberries
4 tablespoons potato starch
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cardamom
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the cold butter until the butter is in small lumps. Slowly drizzle in the ice water, stirring with a fork until the dough starts to come together. Add more water if it is too dry. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead a few times into a ball. Don't overwork the dough! It's okay if you can still see chunks of butter. Separate into two balls -- one should be slightly larger than the other. Pat each one into a disc, wrap the discs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least an hour.
While the dough is chilling, prep your filling. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Make a "X" with a knife on the bottom of each peach. When the water boils, drop your peaches into the boiling water for about 1 minute (you should notice the skin start to loosen where you made the "X"). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a bowl of ice water (or run cold water over them) to cool them down. Once they are cool enough to touch, peel the skin off using your fingers. It should slide off easily. If it doesn't, try sticking them back in the hot water for another minute. Make sure you use ripe peaches! If the peaches aren't ripe enough, the skin won't loosen.
Slice your peeled peaches into a medium bowl. No need for precision here -- just get them into slices or chunks. Quarter the strawberries and add them to the bowl. Add the lemon juice, cardamom, salt, and sugar and stir. Let the fruit sit while you prep the crust.
Take the smaller disc of chilled dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out into a circle about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges. Now, crush the graham cracker sheets and sprinkle the crumbs over the inside of your pie crust. This sounds weird! But it will help absorb the juices from your fruit, and will ensure that your bottom crust doesn't get too soft.
Take your bowl of fruit and drain a few tablespoons of the liquid from the bottom of the bowl out. You don't have to get rid of all of the liquid, just remove a little bit. Now add the potato starch, and toss it all together. Spoon the fruit mixture into your pie crust, on top of the graham cracker crumbs. Place the pie in the refrigerator to chill while you prep the lattice.
Take the larger disc of chilled dough out. Lightly flour a surface and roll it out into a rectangle (about 15-inch x 11-inch and 1/4-inch thick). Using a knife, pizza cutter, or pastry wheel, slice the lattice into long strips, about 1 1/4-inch thick. Remove the pie from the refrigerator.
Drape four strips lengthwise across the surface of your pie, spaced out about 2 inches apart. Now peel back every other strip, and drape a strip perpendicular to those four. Lay the peeled-back strips back down, and repeat, alternating as you go. If this sounds complicated, here is a lovely diagram!
Once your strips are all in place, trim the excess dough and crimp the edges firmly. Brush the top of the lattice lightly with water, and sprinkle with sugar (I like to use turbinado sugar here for some crunch).
Place the pie on a baking sheet (since it might drip), and bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust is just beginning to brown. Turn the oven down to 375 and bake for another 25-30 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling in the inside and the crust should be a dark golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing. Vanilla ice cream would be a good move at this point.