Friday, September 3, 2010

Cooking Vintage: Baking a Peach Pie

From scratch!
And yes, that means the crust too!   :P

Here's the recipe I use, although it's simple enough that after a few times you won't need it. The pie crust can be used for all pies: apple, pumpkin (halve it, though, since you don't use a top crust), and savory meat pies as well- leave the sugar dusting off for those.

This recipe is from one of the early TV cooking shows, Television Kitchen, and aired on July 18th, 1951.

Peach Pie

2/3 c. vegetable shortening or cold butter
2 c sifted all-purpose flour
dash salt
1/4 to 1/2 c. water
1 egg, slightly beaten (for glaze)

2 tbsps quick-cooking tapioca
1 to 2 tsp lemon juice, to taste
dash nutmeg (optional)
2/3 c sugar, plus some to sprinkle on top
4 c peeled* and sliced peaches (5 or 6 large peaches, or 8-9 medium)
1 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

* I generally do not peel the peaches, since it saves time, but you may want to for a uniform appearance and texture.

Prepare the crust:

Preheat oven to 425.

 Get out that giant Pyrex mixing bowl you never use, people!  Sift flour and add salt.

Using a wire pastry blender (or two knives) cut 1/3 c. shortening or butter into the flour until it is as fine as meal.

Add remaining shortening or butter and cut until particles are the size of large peas. Do not overmix.

Add just enough water until dough holds together- it should be fairly dry, not sticky.

Separate dough into two halves. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick circle and place in bottom of ungreased pie pan. Save other half for top crust.

To make the crust easy to transfer from countertop to pie, I roll it around the rolling pin as it comes off the counter and unroll it over the pie.

Combine peaches, tapioca, nutmeg, lemon juice and sugar. (The granular bits are Minute Instant Tapioca.)

Place in pie crust, dot with butter. Top with upper crust. 

Pinch top and bottom crust together. I am not a perfectionist when it comes to the edge of the piecrust. I like a rustic, doughy edge and just roll it all together. If you don't, trim off the excess.

Brush with beaten egg and dust with sugar.

Cut slits in the top for ventilation

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven until crust is browned, about 30 to 35 minutes.

There are a couple tricks to making a fruit pie, which I think this recipe addresses nicely. One is the use of tapioca. You need something to absorb the juice of the peaches or the pie will be water-logged. Many recipes advocate corn starch or flour, but I like the tapioca because it does not impart any "cloudiness" to the filling. You can see the pearls of the tapioca when you slice it if you look closely, but otherwise they are tasteless.

Also, dividing the shortening/butter into two parts for the crust always works well. I have never had a bad crust using this method- they are always light and flaky. I do use Crisco (it's trans-fat free) because butter can sometimes impart a greasy flavor and texture. I recommend using a pastry blender (pick one up for a buck next time you go thrifting if you don't have one); I've never gotten the hang of using two knives to cut in the shortening.

Otherwise this is a pretty much fail-safe recipe that will be guaranteed to garner you some compliments.


  1. Looks delicious! I like a lot of the old recipes, in fact my favorite baking book is one that I think originally belonged to my grandmother, that I always used as a girl when making things for Sunday school bake sales (my mom really didn't care for cooking and baking, lol, she was modern, and I had to do it myself!) I also picked up this really cool book of WWII recipes from the USS North Carolina battleship gift shop last summer, and I love how there are just simple ingredients.

  2. Oh that looks scrumptious! And such pretty dishes & bowls too.I will keep my eye out for a pastry cutter next time i go op shopping:)