This peachy keen series has been a real peach y'all! I could (and do nearly) eat peaches nearly every meal, every day!
Early August is here and the close of peach season in my neck of the woods is drawing nigh. Thankfully 'maters and peas and other summer produce will take us into an Indian Summer and then, thankfully into fall!
I have two sets of iron skillets - one set for savory cooking and one set for sweets. There's hardly anything better than a good iron skillet, but there's hardly anything worse than a peach or apple or berry pie that tastes like onions and gravy! Trust this Farmer, keep a sweet skillet handy so you don't serve onion/gravy flavored peach pie at a dinner party!
Mimi was the source - of course - of any of my iron skillet prowess. She taught me about cooking with them, in them, seasoning them and even bringing a rusty one back to life. She told me that if the house caught on fire, grab the silver and family photos - the skillets will be just fine!
So here is one of my favorite pies in an iron skillet - peach! Followed closely by apple and bringing up the rear would be my pineapple upside cake. The iron gets so hot that the cake or pies cook quickly and give your crust some crunch and substance. Besides tasting absolutely divine, these desserts are beautifully presented in their skillet caches - one less dish to wash and allows for easy reheating!
I'm a firm believer that pies are best two ways - first out of the oven upon their baking's completion and secondly reheated in the oven. Both methods are followed by generous servings of vanilla ice cream of course. Casseroles, spaghetti and lasagna are better reheated in the oven the next day too sans vanilla ice cream!!!
As the peach season draws to a close (I'm gonna stock up on a couple late season varieties to put up), I think this dish is lovely salute to summer and Southern cooking! If you can't make it or bake it in an iron skillet, you may need to think about what you're cooking!
Photography by Helen Norman
12 or so peaches, peeled or skin on
3 ½ tablespoons minute tapioca
1 scant cup sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cinnamon, divided
3 tablespoons drawn butter
1/8 cup vanilla sugar**
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out the piecrusts, lining the dough into a deep-dish iron skillet. Reserve the second crust for the topper; cut out leaf shapes or weave a lattice if you’re feeling crafty.
Mix together peaches, tapioca, sugar, almond and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a large bowl; set aside.
Add peach mixture to the pie pan and then start your leaf topper. Begin in the center and work outwards, covering and layering the leaves in rough concentric rings. If not using leaf shapes, just cover the pie and seal the top edges to the bottom crust with fingers or a fork.
Glaze the top with the drawn butter and then sprinkle with a mixture of vanilla sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon. If the top is a solid piece, cut a couple of slits for ventilation. Place pie pan on a baking sheet in case of spillovers, and bake until golden and bubbly, about 1 hour. If you want it pretty for serving, let it rest; otherwise, dig right in! Peach mush tastes just fine!
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream – or homemade crème fresh.
*Use Tart Dough recipe, page 164, or your own favorite recipe. Otherwise, a store-bought piecrust is one of the best inventions around.
**Vanilla sugar is sugar infused with a vanilla bean pod. After scraping clean a vanilla seed pod, insert the pod into a sugar container and allow the essences of the two to meld together. Keep adding pods and sugar as you use the two and you’ll have vanilla sugar for years!