Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lattice Eat!

I believe I've stated upon an occasion or two how much I like peaches. My favorite jam/preserves/jelly to put on toast (or scones)? Peach. My favorite summer fruit to chomp into? Peaches. My favorite cobbler to gobble? Peach! I don't think I've stated yet  how disappointed I've been in the peaches here in NY this summer, though. Most of the ones I've had have been mealy, tasteless and difficult to work with. Not like last summer at all. I will now amend that statement: I've been disappointed up til now.

Michele had a work picnic thingy out in Jersey last weekend and I wasn't going with her, so I needed to send a proxy. I really wanted to bake a pie but the scarcity of good summer fruit put that idea out of mind. 

A Brief Interlude:

I have to insert a caveat here. I haven't gotten good summer fruit. Several of my friends, who live in different parts of Manhattan than we do, have told me that they've found good peaches and cherries. That very well may be so but since it appears that I'm not part of the 2015 Good Summer Fruit Cabal, I've been stuck with less than stellar stone fruit. C'est la vie.

A Brief Interlude Ends

I was about to gather ingredients for a big batch of cookies when I noticed the peaches at the farmers market that sets up outside my office every Thursday. These were the first peaches that I'd come across that actually smelled like peaches. They were kind of mostly bruised but that really doesn't matter when you're talking pie, so I took a chance and bought a couple of pounds.

When I prepped them, I found that it was relatively easy to separate the flesh from the pits. This is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned. I hate when I get the "cling" style peaches and have to wrestle to get the pit out. So much wasted fruit when that happens. I know there's a technique to it but I haven't sussed it out yet. I will in time, though.

After I got the peaches cut up, something made me change up my process. As normal, I added my sugar and spice (and some lemon was nice) but instead of giving them the slow cook to help bring out and concentrate some of the flavor, I just kept them sitting in the bowl to let the sugar and lemon do some of that work. What I did do was put some well-washed peach skins (which still had peach flesh clinging to it from the peeling) to about a cup of water and boiled until the liquid was reduced by two-thirds. I added a little sugar and the liquid from the sitting peaches to that and continued cooking to reduce. Eventually I got a lovely, thick syrup that I added back to the peaches for the filling. 

Since I was sending this pie as my proxy, I wanted it to look its best, so I made sure I had enough dough for a lattice crust. I've made lattice crusts before to varying degrees of success. Each one has taught me a little more about their construction. Don't roll the dough out too thin or too thick. Watch the width when cutting out the dough strips. Make sure to keep track of the over and under. And by all means, figure out some way of hiding the ends of the weave!

Et voila!

First good peach pie of the season!
The best lattice I've ever done...despite having to fight our finicky oven. Again. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

What took you so long?
 Of course I could make things more even, actually measure the dough strips instead of eye-balling them, be more careful with the spacing, etc., etc., etc., but I don't care about measured perfection in this. I have way too much fun doing all this on the fly to worry about making it perfect. For me it just needs to be at least as good as the last time I did it. I call this one an unqualified success!

I sent Michele off in the morning to meet with her traveling companions and asked if she'd send me a picture of the pie once it was cut. I was reasonably sure it would taste good but I was a little concerned about the consistency of the filling. I really do hate when filling comes tumbling out of a crust when start slicing up a pie. I also hate when a filling is so congealed that it's like eating a chunk of Styrofoam. I thought I'd gotten it just right but since I wasn't going along with the pie, I could only wait for her text. (Well, I another project to take care of while I waited but that's another story.) Hours later I got these:

Traveled well!

And the hole:

Take a slice out of pie!
And the slice.

Holding it together.
This made me very happy to see because some lattice crusts fall apart when you cut into them and the slices just don't look right when you serve them. This one seems to have held together exceptionally well. And when I asked Michele about the taste, she sent the following texts:

"It was perfect."
"Really. Best flavor of any peach pie yet." (Which is saying a lot because last year's peaches were so superior in taste to this year's.)

"And everyone loved it."

After she got home she told me that the husband of one of her co-workers used to be a professional chef and he was extremely impressed with the lattice because he knew how difficult they are to do. He thought mine was very well done, indeed! 

And "very well done, indeed" is enough for me.

Currently listening to: Herbie Hancock - Gentle Thoughts 



  1. Beautiful lattice. But Herbie Hancock...that would drive me out of the kitchen. But I have to say, you have extremely eclectic taste in music.

  2. Thanks! Everything "felt right" as I was putting it together.

    Yeah, I'm kind of all over the place musically. I have three different baking playlists that go from Dvorak to Disco to Dubstep and all tangents in between. I play them when I'm alone in the apartment (much to my wife's relief).