whistlestop caboose

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Life of a pie (peach)

We are in the thick of pie season here. The gooseberry one disappeared rapidly and I suddenly found myself with a bag of peaches, with an expectant look on the part of the gift-giver.

Once and sometimes twice a summer we have peach pie. Some peaches are grown in this part of Switzerland (there is another story there, but I will photograph the ruins of an old house in order to tell you the tale), but not many. Mostly we wait for peaches from northern Italy to ripen and make the two-hour trip over the border.

Here is the life of a peach pie at our house, any July.

I like the peaches cut into about 8-10 slices, not too thick, not too thin. Ripe and juicy and sweet.

After I add the peaches I dot them with a bit of butter, so the cornstarch/brown sugar/cinnamon and nutmeg thickens as it mixes with the fruit's juice while cooking

My mother gave me this rolling pin, which her mother had, a lovely heavy wooden one. My mother never liked to bake pies from scratch - too much work - but her mother did and I can still smell the pies Grandma baked and that greeted us at her door.

I love to have pies look nice and one of my favorite parts of baking is adding the top crust. I sometimes trim the edge with a fork tong but I like to make finger indents for a ruffled edge when I bake peach pie. No reason why, just a small personal tradition!

And then the top is decorated, here with a fireworks design for the Swiss national holiday August 1 (the pie won't last that long, though). Technically, these are steam vents, but they are mainly for fun.

Into the oven and 35 minutes later out: golden and crisp. My Swiss neighbors are shocked at the American notion of a two-crust pie, and partly due to their sensible influence I have learned to make sure the dough is rolled very thin so the crusts are not heavy.

Cooling is the hardest part. I hope by giving the pie a nice view of the mountains and a little breeze from outdoors I can encourage it to cool faster. Everyone keeps asking how soon we can eat it.

Every good pie baker is kind to those waiting by letting a little extra crust sit on the edge, untidy. That obliges at least one person to come along and try to "just tidy up" the edge, thereby getting an advance nibble.

The coffee is made, the hot milk whipped up so it is lovely and foamy at the top of the mug.

The pie is cut, usually one slice at a time so there are no arguments over whether or not the person on slicing duty has made the pieces equal.

The art of getting the first slice out neatly is one I doubt we will ever master, but we keep trying. The alternative of no slices is worse than untidy ones.

This time we did pretty well.

[two more photos, the end result, will follow - Blogger seems to have problems and I can't upload them now :-( ]


Blogger Vasta said...

I've never tasted one of your pies, yet I still crave them like no other. I'm going to have to head out to Switzerland pretty soon.

Oh, and I like the clever title. Did you enjoy the Yann Martel book?

6:57 PM  
Blogger whistlestop caboose said...

Vasta, if you come to Switzerland for my pie you'd better time it right. In winter we have only pumpkin and (imported) pecan.

I loved Yann Martel's book, read it aloud twice to young teenagers who also loved it. I even loved all the brouhaha surrounding Martel and the author who said he stole the story. Personally, I liked the story but I loved the writing, so I gave YM the benefit of the doubt.

10:24 PM  

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