Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Peach and Lemon Verbena Pie, and a virtual pie party!

A few weeks back, Sarah (of the vanilla bean blog), Hannah (of honey & jam), Beth (of local milk), and I were a-tweeting and a-twittering (or whatever kids do these days) about pie, lamenting the fact that we were too far away to try each others' scrumptious-sounding crust-and-fruit creations. But, not to fear!, we decided that an on-going virtual pie party was the second best thing. Sarah hosted us all last week on her blog with tiny little peach pies-in-jars, and it's my turn now. :) So, welcome all! to the Virtual Pie Party, part deux.

Like Sarah, I just couldn't let the last of the season's peaches at the market pass without one final hurrah. I love late season peaches. There's this one stand in particular that has these beautiful and super sweet giant yellow peaches that only come out late in the season, with the flesh of the peach falling effortlessly off the pit inside. I used these last summer for one of my favorite cakes on this blog, and I've been waiting and waiting for them to show up again since. This peach and lemon verbena pie showcases these peaches perfectly, with a deep dish form so as to stuff as many peaches into a single pie as I could... naturally. :) I've also been itching to use the leaves off my finally-flourishing lemon verbena plant (especially after I managed to kill one already earlier in the summer!), and the touch of lemon verbena lends an incredibly bright and fresh streak to the sweet cooked peaches inside the pie. The crust itself also has a bit of almond flavor thrown in, for an amazing scent fresh out of the oven, and of course I couldn't resist finishing off the thick lattice with an extremely generous sprinkling of turbinado sugar for a crunchy, candy-like top.

Sarah served her peach pies with a side of Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background--a detail that I love and appreciate, especially because my undergraduate honors thesis was all about Ella. But in my current tired and sleep-deprived state, the song that kept popping into my head when I thought of my peach pie was this. Yeah, very cultured. Okay, okay... the next song that popped into my head was at least a little bit higher up on the culture scale: Nina Simone's Four Women ... which, on some level I guess is fitting for this virtual pie party of made up of four women bakers. :) (though this is definitely not what the song is about!) Of course, thinking of Nina Simone led me to think of Rene Marie's "O Nina!" tribute (sorry, couldn't find a recording online), which appears on the same album as one of my favorites. Of course, you can't get me talking about my favorite jazz artists/albums/tracks without mentioning Diana Krall's cover of "A Case of You", Carmen McRae's Great American Songbook (this album is seriously life-changing), and--this is how we get back to Ella--Ella Fitzgerald's Harold Arlen Songbook. Jazz vocalists are a dangerous subject to bring up around me...I could go on and on about this forever and bore everyone here to death!

Hm... somehow I don't think I've been the greatest host of a virtual pie party, prattering on about music instead of pie and blogs and photography. But "quirky" sort of comes with my territory. :) Sarah, Hannah, and Beth: here's to hoping that one day we'll all be able to get together in one place to share pie and coffee and long discussions of music!

(Ack! I realized that this very meandering post turned into a music link fest. Might as well throw this one in there and be done with it. ;P)

Read on for recipe....

Peach and Lemon Verbena Pie
makes one 8-inch deep dish pie

for pastry
3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
2 sticks (226 g) butter, cold
½ tspn salt
1 Tbspn almond extract
6 – 7 Tbspn water, cold

for filling
3 lb (1.36 kg) ripe but firm large yellow peaches
10 – 12 lemon verbena leaves
½ cup (100 g) sugar
¼ cup (30 g) tapioca flour
1 tspn almond extract
1 large egg, separated
2 Tbspn heavy cream
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour until the size of small peas. Add the almond extract and mix briefly. Gradually add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pressed between two fingers. There should still be chunks of butter. Do not overmix! Form the dough into a disc, wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, peel and pit the peaches, and cut each peach into 8 slices. Toss the peach slices with the lemon verbena and sugar. Transfer the peaches to a strainer suspended over a saucepan. Let macerate for 1 hour.
3. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator. Reserve about  ⅓ of the dough. Roll out the other ⅔ of dough on a lightly-floured surface to ⅛-inch thick. Place the dough in a 8-inch springform pan, trimming the excess. Combine the excess dough with the reserved dough and roll out to ⅛-inch thick. Return both the pan and the prepared dough to the refrigerator to chill.
4. Preheat the oven to 425° F, with the baking rack in the bottom-most position.
5. Transfer the peach slices to a bowl. With the juices in the saucepan, cook over medium high heat for 12 – 15 minutes, until bubbling and thickened. Pour the reduction over the peaches. Add the tapioca flour and almond extract and toss to combine.
6. Separate the egg. Whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Remove the prepared pie shell and pre-rolled dough from the refrigerator. Brush a layer of egg white on the bottom of the pie shell. Fill the pie shell with the peaches. Cut strips of the rolled dough and create a lattice pattern on top of the pie. Brush the top with the egg yolk wash, and sprinkle very generously with turbinado sugar.
7. Bake the pie on the bottom-most oven rack for 20 minutes. When the top of the pie turns brown, place a piece of foil lightly on top. Reduce the oven to 375° F and bake for 40 more minutes, until the fruit is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool briefly on a wire rack. Serve warm or cooled, but preferably on the same day the pie is made.



  1. Alanna Taylor-TobinOctober 2, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    That's one heckuva pie! Love peaches and lemon verbena - I'm all over this! And Ella is very dear to my heart - I'd sell my soul for pipes like hers.

  2. Hi Stephanie,
    I am so glad that we finally met at the Bakery crawl. Lets stay in touch.
    I love the dancing peach. he he :-) That looks like one delicious combination in a pie. YUM!

  3. I wish I could say I'm a good pie maker. But I'm not. I am, however, a great pie eater and lover of beautiful pies. And this fits that bill. Beautiful stuff and wishing peaches were still around here.

  4. Yes! It's always great to put a name to a face! :D

  5. Wow, that's like a pie cake! (or pot pie) I've never seen a pie like that and I love peaches. I love your cute peach animation too! (And I love Nina Simone too, but probably not an expert on her song titles as you are.) P.S. It was nice meeting you in person at the bakery crawl! Looking forward to seeing if you're going to be making any sandwich cookies! :)

  6. Hi Stephanie! Great looking pie, and I love anything with peaches..sadly I don't know if I can get any lemon verbena leaves here which I have been dying to experiment with. Will keep on looking. Those peaches dancing in the second photo is just awesome. Apologise for my lack of words. Have a great week and stay in touch. xoxo, Jo @ Chic & Gorgeous Treats

  7. I am still scooping up peaches at the store like crazy too! This pie is absolutely beautiful! I love that you baked it in a spring form pan and those pics of the the filling are stunning :)

  8. What kind of cutlery is that with the brown enamle handles?

  9. I found the set at a flea market once, so I'm not too sure. The maker's mark on the back says "EKCO Eterna | Forged Stainless Korea." A quick search for "EKCO Eterna" on ebay turns up similar looking ones. Hope that helps!

  10. Carmen McRae + beautiful images of deep dish peach pie? Love this post!! Thanks!!

  11. I thought for sure I posted a comment here! I'm totally a space case lately. So! sorry this is late, but this is such a beautiful pie, and I hope one day we can have a real pie party. Also, we will have to discuss Ms. Ella Fitzgerald. ;)


I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!