i'm a pie person. i mean, don't get me wrong, i love cake - but if this were one of my final moments and it came down to pie or cake - I would take the pie. i can't pass up that explosion of fruit, that rich flaky crust, the crunch of slightly caramelized browned sugar.
i don't understand why the expression is 'easy as pie' or 'piece of cake' when the concept can seem so overwhelming at times, especially when you've got a big dinner party to throw and you need to time everything perfectly (as I was doing last night). you want me to make a crust? roll it out and shape it? and a filling too? but trust me when i tell you that this is the pie they originally had in mind. this one is, well (slap me if you must), easy as pie.
this filling can be changed as the seasons change. right now, we're heady on peaches and blueberries. but in the spring, try strawberries and rhubarb, or apples as the fall comes. and in the winter, try persimmons and quince. but right now it's july and my windows are wide open and the farmers market at grand army plaza is rich with peaches, so we'll start there.
adapted slightly from joy the baker
2.5 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter (european-style aka 82% butterfat). cubed.
2/4 tsp salt
2.5 tbsp cold vodka
2.5 tbsp cold water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
2 tbsp sugar in the raw
the vodka and apple cider vinegar are key to the flakiness of this crust. the vodka will help to add moisture (then baked off so you won't even taste it) and roll out an easier crust. the vinegar is also something you won't taste at all. what it will do is inhibit gluten formation, so you won't get that chewiness in the final product but instead a more delicate, flakier crust
combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. pulse 2-3 times to mix. add butter slowly through feed chute. add vodka, water, and vinegar. pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. punch and shape into 2 even disks. wrap in plastic and place in freezer for one hour.
8 peaches, sliced
1 cup blueberries
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cornstarch
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
place fruit in a bowl. sift flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt on top. add spices. add apricot jam and lemon juice. toss to combine.
preheat oven to 400.
roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 11" in diameter. place in a greased 9" pie pan and press in. fold the edges in and out to crimp along the base. place filling within and mound in center. roll additional disk of dough and cut slits or holes, or a pattern, in the top. place on top of filling and crimp edges. wash with egg wash and sprinkle raw sugar on top. bake at 400 for 15 minutes and at 375 for additional 45 minutes or until golden brown.
how do you roll a perfect crust? pay close attention to your rolling technique. lightly dust your surface with flour. consider your pan. for each inch of the final size of your tart, add one ounce, plus two more at the end. for example, for a 10-inch crust, use 12 oz of dough. roll with firm, even strokes, taking care to lift the dough and give it a quarter-turn every few strokes so you can ensure a nice circle is formed. check your tart pan against your dough. once the dough is about 1 1/2 inches wider than your pan, lift the dough and lay over the pan. feed the dough into the pan so it forms sides and then fold along the inner rim to create a sharp delineation between bottom and sides of crust. feed the dough down into the pan and scrape away from your body using a bench scraper. when you inspect the final product, the walls should form a 90 degree angle with the bottom and be an even thickness all the way around.