We’re hard core peach pie fans around here, but a recent hunt for good peaches to satisfy a peach pie craving went unfulfilled. Luckily, nectarines were on sale and were the inspiration for this pie. The result was a pie that was actually better than some of the recent peach pies that have come out of my oven.
Maybe it was this year’s growing conditions for peaches, but my two most recent peach pies were watery and bland. Not so with this nectarine pie. The filling was perfect with fruit slices that held their shape, kept their color and exploded with that old fashioned sweet/tart peach flavor we love.
It is erroneously believed that nectarines are a cross between peaches and plums. They are actually just a variety of peach that happens to be fuzzless, smaller and sweeter than standard peaches. A good nectarine has a more intense peach flavor and aroma than their fuzzy cousin. For this pie I wanted slices that held their shape so, I chose fruit that was slightly under-ripe and perfect for baking. The fruit was still a bit hard, just a little harder than the fruit I would choose to eat out-of-hand.
This pie crust recipe is my standard double-crust pie crust that I use for many of my fruit pies. The top crust is brushed lightly with milk and sprinkled with granulated sugar for a crispy, crackly pastry we love with summer fruits.
For the double crust pastry:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ (4 tablespoons) stick very cold butter
4 tablespoons ice cold shortening (I store mine in my freezer)
½ to ¾ cup ice water
For the filling:
6-8 medium sized firm, but ripe nectarines
½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar (taste fruit for tartness)
½ cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons butter
For the topping:
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour along with the cold shortening. With a fork, pastry blender or fingertips, quickly work the mixture together until mixture resembles large, coarse crumbs (don’t overwork the mixture, bits of butter should still be visible). Sprinkle in enough ice water and toss with fork just until the flour is evenly moistened (do not stir). Without kneading, form the moist crumbs into a ball on a sheet of plastic wrap and place in the freezer to rest while you prepare the fruit
Peel and slice the fruit and place in a bowl, toss with the granulated sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.
Remove the pastry from the freezer and cut the ball in half, Roll one half out and place in a 9-inch pie pan.
Arrange the fruit evenly in the pie pan on top of the crust. Dot the top of the fruit with the butter.
Roll out the other half of the crust and place on top of the fruit. Cut of excess dough from around the edges and crimp to form a crust.
Lightly brush the top with milk; evenly & generously sprinkle the top with granulated sugar. Prick the top in several places with a fork or tip of a sharo knife to make steam vents.
Bake for about 50-60 minutes at 375 degrees until the crust is well-browned and juices can be seen bubbling through the steam vents.