Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie

Millions of peaches. Peaches for me. Millions of peaches. Peaches for free. Well not quite. My sister and I have different preferences when it comes to sweet things. I wanted to make something for her birthday that was different and peach tart got stuck in my head. I've never made a tart from scratch. They seem simple enough. In my quest to find a yummy peach tart, I found this from Smitten.

Peaches are good. Peaches in a pie? Even better! The crust was flaky and buttery. It really held together too! You could almost pick it up like a slice of pizza- almost. The sweetness of the fruit is not overpowering. It's a very mature pie.

The filling for this pie is ridiculously easy. Fast and basic. It's the crust you need watch out for. Oh it's easy- but time consuming. You can always go out and buy the crust, but it doesn't have the same love in it. I made the dough the night before so all I had to do the next day was let it thaw in the fridge a little, roll it out into the pan, freeze again, par-bake, and then bake. What is par-bake? It's a little pre-toast so that you don't get a soggy bottom from all the juices in the pie when it's baking.

The key to make the yummy, buttery crust- FREEZE EVERYTHING. I'm serious. Freeze your butter. Freeze the crust. Keep everything cold cold cold so it stays together. Visible butter means visible flakiness.

Note: what the hell is Crème Fraîche? It is a delicious, thinner form of sour cream first developed by the French. It has a slight hold and tangyness. You can make your own at home, there are a couple online recipes like this one. I bought mine at Whole Foods because Safeway didn't know what the heck I was talking about. Also... The quality of pie depends on the quality of the peach. They're in season from late June to September. You be the judge when you pick them out.

I made this in NJ in a foreign kitchen. Don't be jealous of my Dixie paper plates : )

Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
9.5x10 inch pie plate (not deep dish)

Streusel

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 to 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling

1 1/2 pounds ripe (4 to 5 medium) yellow peaches, pitted and quartered
2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons crème fraîche

For the Pie Crust... fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Dice very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender. Don't have a pastry blender? Me neither. Take 2 knives and cut like a pair of huge scissors. It takes longer but hey, do what you gotta do.

Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop. You want those butter bits!

Start drizzling 1/4 cup of the ice-cold water over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 2 tablespoons cup of cold water to bring it together, but add it gradually. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.

Place dough on a large piece of plastic wrap. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.

When you do roll it out, it should be 1/8 inch thick. Trim edge to 1/2 inch; fold under and crimp (with a fork) as desired. Pierce bottom of dough all over with a fork. Transfer to freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F right before you take it out. While this is freezing, make the streusel and filling!

For the streusel ... Stir confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, salt and three tablespoons flour together in a small bowl. Add bits of cold butter, and either using a fork, pastry blender or your fingertips, work them into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add additional flour as needed. Don't worry if it's more than the recipe states- just make sure it's crumbly!

Par-bake crust ... Tightly press a piece of aluminum foil against frozen pie crust. From here, fill the shell with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully remove foil and any weights, press any bubbled-up spots in with the back of a spoon, and return the crust to the oven for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until it is lightly golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.

For the filling ... Sprinkle quartered peaches with sugar (2 more a touch of sweetness, 4 for sweet) and salt. (Easy way to quarter peaches- cut full circle vertically and then twist apart like a bottle cap.) Let sit for 10 minutes. Spread two tablespoons crème fraîche in bottom of par-baked pie shell, sprinkle with one-third of the streusel and fan the peach quarters decoratively on top. Dot the remaining three tablespoons of crème fraîche on the peaches and sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Bake the pie until the crème fraîche is bubble and the streusel is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cover edge of crust with a strip of foil if it browns too quickly. Let cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving.

Store in the fridge due to the crème fraîche. Serve warm or cold. I served mine cold because we were out watching the fireworks. This gives the flavors more time to blend.