August is just a peachy-keen month. All that promise of spring and early summer is just bursting from the ground and off the trees.
We are fortunate in this corner of northwestern Pennsylvania in that we have peach, apple, cherry, plum, and pear trees that bear fruit. The weather has cooperated this year, unlike in 2015, and the farm stands are filled with fresh peaches right now.
They are wonderful eaten from your hand, preferably standing over a sink or someplace to catch the juicy goodness so it doesn’t run down your chin. My tip for eating peaches is to rub them with a cloth first to remove some of the fuzzyness.
I first picked peaches at age 14 at my cousin’s house outside of Florence. They had quite a few trees, which meant we had more ripe peaches than five kids could eat. I had been making berry and apple pies for a couple of years by then, so I showed my cousin how to make a peach pie. Purists will insist on peeling the peaches, which his best down by scoring the bottom with an X and then dipping in boiling water until the skin starts to loosen. Immerse in cold water to stop the cooking and the skin should just skip off.
It’s a pain. And, frankly, I don’t think it’s necessary. I make my peach pies with the skin on. Just wash, rub off the fuzz and cut into either 8 or 16 slices. If you are lucky, they are freestone peaches (meaning the flesh comes away easily from the pit). Clingstone, as the name implies, mean the flesh sticks to the pit.
The addition of the skin adds a bit of a ruby tint to the filling, which I think makes it more appetizing.
So, objection No. 1 to making peach pie is taken care of. A couple of years ago, I started making galettes. This is fancy French term for a freeform pie. You don’t need a pie plate, so there’s no lifting, tearing or panic. You fold the crust up over the filling, and bake it on a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.
Roll out a single pie crust to about 14-inches in diameter between a top and bottom sheet of plastic wrap. Freeze for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then remove from the freezer and peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap. Invert it onto a sheet of parchment on a rimmed baking sheet. Then peel off the top. Add fruit in the middle and fold the edges over. Bake for about 35 to minutes.
Easy as pie. The fruit stays firmer because it bakes in about 1/2 the time.
Feel free to add blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, nectarines or plums and create your own mix. The two main rules are is the fruit needs to measure 3 cups and the galette needs to be about 14 inches in diameter.