one 9” blind-baked pie shell
For the filling-
3 pounds (about 7 large) ripe peaches, rinsed, peeled, pitted, cut into thick wedges
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2½ tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
Place the peaches in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugars, salt and nutmeg. Let the peaches macerate for 15 minutes. Transfer the peach slices to a colander and set the colander over the same bowl used to combine the peaches with the sugars and spices. Let the peaches sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours. Transfer the juices (you should have almost 1 cup of liquid) to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Reduce the juices over low heat, swirling the liquid, until it has reduced down to about ½ cup. Remove from the heat and set the syrup aside to cool slightly. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare the biscuit topping.
For the biscuit topping-
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (for more texture, use ½ cup of fine and ½ cup coarse)
⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 oz. cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
¾-1 cup cold buttermilk
egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or cream
coarse sanding sugar for sprinkling
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, brown sugar, orange zest, baking powder, and salt. Cut the cold butter pieces into the dry ingredients using a butter cutter or your fingertips. The mixture should be pebbly with some larger pieces of butter. Gradually add ¾ cup of the buttermilk, tossing the mixture gently with a fork until it is well combined. (If the mixture feels dry, you can add up to ¼ cup more of the buttermilk. The mixture should be fluffy, not soggy.) Turn the biscuit dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a circle, about 1” thick. Use biscuit cutters (mine measure 2¼” across the top) to cut out circles of dough, gently rerolling the scraps once. Transfer the biscuits to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you finish the filling.
To complete the pie filling, transfer the peach slices to a bowl and toss with the cornstarch, making sure the cornstarch dissolves. Add the almond extract and pour the reduced, cooled, peach syrup over the peaches, turning to coat with a spatula. Transfer the peaches and their juices to the blind baked/cooled pie shell. Dot the peaches with butter.
Retrieve the biscuits from the refrigerator, brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sanding sugar. Cover the peaches with the biscuits, trimming as needed to fit. Leave a small opening in the center of the pie, allowing steam to escape. Place the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for an additional 50-60 minutes, until juices bubble around the edges and through the middle of the pie. Transfer to a rack and let the pie cool for at least 4 hours before slicing. Cover any leftovers in plastic wrap. Pie can sit at room temperature for up to 3 days.