Nothing says summer quite like juicy, ripe, drip down your chin peaches. Most of us are familiar with the yellow-fleshed variety but last summer I was introduced to white-flesh peaches at the Brooklyn Fort Greene Farmer's Market. Named for their unusually flat shape and resemblance to the rings of Saturn, Saturn peaches also go by Doughnut, Paraguayo, Pan Tao, Saucer, Belly-up, and UFO peaches. So, what makes them different from regular peaches? For one thing, they're sweeter with almond overtones. They're also less acidic, have little or no fuzz so don't have to be peeled, and are more resistant to frost, pest and disease. Saturn peach trees produce up to twice as many peaches as other varieties.
Next time you decide to bake peach pie, replace standard peaches for the doughnut variety. If you're feeling peachy and are ready to take the plunge now, here's a recipe I found at Gourmet for Honey Caramel Peach Pie.
Honey Caramel Peach Pie
all-butter pastry dough* (recipe below)
3 pounds ripe peaches
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/4 cup mild honey
2 tablespoon water
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon whole milk
- Cut an X in the bottom of each peach, then blanch peaches in batches in boiling water for 15 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop them cooking. Peel peaches and cut into 1-inch thick wedges.
- Toss the peaches well with cornstarch, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 425º F.
- Bring 1/2 cup sugar, honey, and water to a boil in a 2 quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add butter, swirling pan until butter is melted. Pour over fruit and toss (caramel may harden slightly but will melt in the oven.)
- Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep the other chilled) into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out remaining dough.
- Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin.
- Transfer filling to pie shell, mounding it. Cover pie with second pastry round. Trim, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together, crimping decoratively. Brush the top with milk, then sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a paring knife.
- Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375º F. Continue to bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes more. Cool pie to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours.
All-Butter Pastry Dough
(9-inch double crust)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons ice water, more or less
- Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) just until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps.
- Drizzle in 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn't hold together, add more ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and press into a ball. Divide in half and form into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.