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Healthy and Delicious: Top-Crust Peach and Cardamom Pie

Healthy and Delicious: Top-Crust Peach and Cardamom Pie

[Photograph: Brian Haskell]

Editor's note: On Mondays, Kristen Swensson of Cheap, Healthy, Good swings by these parts to share healthy and delicious recipes with us. Since she's busy getting married and honeymooning this week (congrats Kristen!), her fellow CHG blogger Leigh Angel who writes the Veggie Might column is stepping in. Take it away, Leigh! —The Mgmt.

This weekend, I bought what the farmers' market sign claimed were The Last Peaches of the Season. My original plan was to grab a couple to eat with lunches during the week, but faced with the grim possibility that there would be no more, I splurged and got enough for a pie.

Growing up in North Carolina, just a few miles from the South Carolina border, peach pie was a summer staple in everyone's kitchen—there was a minimum peach pie quota (four) at every church function. But I never liked it until I was an adult and long gone from the South. Cooked fruit and I have had a rocky relationship that has just recently begun to heal.

Recipes like Top-Crust Peach and Cardamom Pie from Bon Appétit via Epicurious have made this healing possible. This recipe flips the classic peach pie upside-down and gives it a (gentle, loving) kick in the seat. Tart and sweet, the warm, fragrant cardamom complements the sassy, tangy peaches. Together, they perfectly evoke the change of season.

I gave the Bon Appétit pie crust a try (though I swear by my grandma's recipe), substituting nonhydrogenated shortening for butter, and it came out great: flaky and flavorful. This pie is already lighter, since it just has a top crust, and you only need half the crust the recipe calls for, cutting down the calorie and fat content again. I put the remaining pie dough the freezer, where it will keep for a few months. Do the same, and you'll be one step ahead come Thanksgiving.

This is a terrific entry-level recipe for anyone hesitant about giving pie a go. Using cookie-cutter shapes to create the crust eliminates the nerve-wracking transfer of dough to pan for the first-timer. (Though dough is forgiving, so don't let that stop you.) What I'm saying is this pie is easy.

The Last Peaches of the Season shine through the pie, with only a little added sugar and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Top with the recommended whipped cream, ice cream, or enjoy plain. Personally, I think au natural is the way to go. Cooked fruit and I have come a long way.

Note: To easily remove peach skin, drop peaches into boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and allow to cool. Pierce skin with knife and peel. Alternatively, use a serrated peeler. For best pie crust results, ingredients must be cold. Cut shortening into small chunks and measure out dry ingredients. Then chill all in freezer for 30 minutes before making dough.

Healthy and Delicious: Top-Crust Peach and Cardamom Pie

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About This Recipe

Yield:8
Active time:45 minutes
Total time:2 hours
Special equipment:food processor, rolling pin, 2 1/2" - 3" cookie cutter, pie pan, knife, medium mixing bowl, silicone spatula,

Ingredients

  • For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 (6.25 ounces) cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup turbinado or demarara sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • Filling
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk (or 1 egg, beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado or demarara sugar (for sprinkling)

Procedures

  1. 1

    For crust: Blend flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and salt in food processor. Add shortening. Pulse until mixture resembles very coarse meal, about eight 1-second pulses. Add ice water. Pulse until mixture comes together in moist clumps, about six 1-second pulses, adding up to 1 tablespoon more water if dough is dry.

  2. 2

    Turn out dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead just until dough comes together, 4 to 5 turns. Roll dough into cylinder and cut in half. Flatten one half into disk; wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. Wrap remaining half in plastic and freeze up to three months. Dough can also be made ahead and kept chilled in refrigerator for one day.

  3. 3

    Line large baking sheet or cutting board with parchment paper. Sprinkle work surface with flour and roll out dough to 13-inch round. Transfer dough to baking sheet and chill 20 minutes. Using 2 1/2- to 3-inch cookie cutter, cut shapes from dough, leaving cutouts on baking sheet. Reroll scraps and cut out more shapes if necessary. Chill cutouts on baking sheet while preparing filling.

  4. 4

    For filling: Adjust baking rack to lowest position in oven and preheat to 400°F. In a medium bowl, toss peach slices, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cardamom until peaches are coated.

  5. 5

    Transfer filling to 9-inch pie plate. Arrange crust cutouts over filling in slightly overlapping rings, working from the outside edge to the center. Brush crust with almond milk, then sprinkle with additional sugar if desired. Bake until crust is golden brown and juice is bubbling, about 45 minutes.

  6. 6

    Transfer to baking rack and cool at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room-temperature in bowls with your favorite topping or au natural.

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