Jessie’s Cookie Pie Crust
Makes one half sheet, 13” x 18” (or two quarter sheets, 9” x 13”)
3¼ cups + 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
12 ounces (3 sticks, 1½ cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 - 4 Tablespoons sugar (depending on your sweetness preference)
1½ Tablespoons sour cream or plain, unsweetened yogurt
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder; set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just to combine. Scrape down the bowl then gradually add the dry ingredients on low speed. Scrape down the bowl again, add the sour cream and the vanilla, mixing just until the mixture comes together. (The dough is quite soft.) Turn dough out onto a well greased half sheet pan and with flour-dusted fingers, pat the dough evenly to line the pan. Chill while preparing the filling.
Peach and Blueberry filling
2 pints of blueberries (4 cups) rinsed, stems removed, dried on paper toweling
6 - 7 ripe but firm freestone peaches, about 3½ pounds (see below for details on blanching, peeling, slicing)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or orange juice
For the syrup
Reserved peach skins, pits, and juices
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
For the sugar and spice
2 tablespoons finely ground Minute tapioca
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
The quantities are a little improvisational here. If you are using good-sized freestone peaches, about 6 or 7 should do the trick, teamed with 2 pints of blueberries. (I tend to err on the side of excess.) Rinse the peaches in cold water. Fill a large bowl halfway with cold water and ice; set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gently lower the peaches into the boiling water. Reduce the heat and let the fruit simmer for 2 minutes, just until the skins soften slightly. Use a large slotted spoon to retrieve one of the peaches; if the skin slips away easily, they are ready. If not, leave the peaches in the simmering water for another minute. Retrieve the peaches and place them in the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Working over a bowl, peel the peaches, (the skin should slip right off) saving the peach peels along with their juices. Halve the peaches, remove the pits (the pits should cooperate, hence the name ‘free-stone’) and then slice each half into four or five thick wedges. Place the slices into a mesh strainer set over a bowl so you can save the juices. Add the lemon or orange juice to the peach slices to prevent them from discoloring. Let the peaches cool down a bit; you don’t want to cover a cold crust with hot peaches.
(Note: On occasion, I’ve been a little shy on either peaches or blueberries and have added a handful of stemmed, pitted cherries to the mix with no dire consequences.)
Jessie used to cook the skins, the peach pits, and the reserved peach juices together with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 cup of water until the skins broke down and the liquid reduced. Then she removed the pits and strained the mixture, ending up with a peach flavored sugar syrup. To the syrup she would add ¼ teaspoon of almond extract. I also like to add a little orange or lemon zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 Tablespoons of finely ground Minute tapioca, ¼ cup granulated sugar and 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar. You can add a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, if you like. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Take your half sheet pan out of the fridge, sprinkle the tapioca/sugar mixture evenly over the chilled dough. Now place the fruit on top; you can alternate rows of peaches with rows of berries, or cover one half completely with peach slices and the other half with blueberries. When the pan is completely covered with fruit, drizzle the peach syrup over the top. It won’t cover the entire tray, but as it bakes, the juices from the fruit will bubble up and join the syrup. Place the sheet pan on the bottom shelf of the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake an additional 30-35 minutes. Keep an eye on things, you want the fruit to be tender, the berries to pop, the cookie crust to be golden. Neither the crust nor the pie is overly sweet, so teaming this with ice cream or whipped cream is a fine idea. If there are any leftovers, serve them with a little yogurt and a drizzle of honey for a perfectly acceptable breakfast.
SUMMER PEACH CORNMEAL SCONES
(inspired by Izy Hossack)
makes 8 scones
2 large ripe freestone peaches, about 8 oz. each, washed, peeled, pitted, and halved*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or orange juice
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon OR orange zest
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3½ oz. cold, unsalted butter cut into ½” pieces
2 large eggs, room temperature
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* * * * * * * *
egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon whole milk
coarse sanding sugar for sprinkling
Cut the halved peaches into ¼” pieces, place in a medium bowl, toss with lemon or orange juice, and set aside.
In a large bowl, place the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and zest. Whisk to combine. Using a bench scraper or your fingertips, add the butter to the dry mixture, cutting the butter into the flour mixture until it is the consistency of coarse cornmeal with some larger pieces of butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and yogurt until combined. Add the eggs/yogurt to the flour/butter mixture, tossing together gently with a fork, until you have formed a soft dough with a bit of the dry ingredients not completely incorporated. The idea is not to over mix the dough.
Sprinkle your clean countertop/work surface with all-purpose flour. Turn the dough out onto the counter and gently work it into a rectangle, about 15” long x 8” wide, incorporating the stray bits of dry flour from the mixing bowl. Use a bench scraper or an offset spatula to mark the dough into thirds. (If the peaches are very juicy, drain them first.) Place half of the peaches down the middle third of the dough. Fold the left third of the dough over the top of the peaches, covering them. Place the remaining peaches onto the flap of dough you used to cover the first layer. Take the right third of dough and cover the peaches.
(The “parcel” of scone dough alternates: dough/peaches/dough/peaches/dough.)
Use a bench scraper to divide/cut the “parcel” into 8 equal rectangles. Place the scones on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving some room between them. Brush the top of each scone with a little bit of egg wash, then sprinkle each scone with sanding sugar. Place the tray of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking. This helps them hold their shape in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the frozen scones on the middle rack of the hot oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking, until the scones are deeply golden brown. (Check the interior of one of the scones with a small paring knife to make sure the center of the scones are baked through; if not give them another few minutes.) Serve warm.
* If the peaches are not particularly ripe or flavorful, you can roast them first. Place the diced peaches on a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree F oven for about 15 minutes, turning them halfway through roasting, until they soften and just start to caramelize. Make sure to cool them completely before layering them between the scone dough.