Paula Roy: Whole Foods in Half the Time


Easy Breezy Peachy Pie

Free form crust is fast and flavourful

by: Paula Roy
Simple to make peach pie

I don't know too many people who don't adore pie. It's long been one of my favourite desserts although I seem to not make pies as often as I'd like because I find fiddling with the crust just seems like too much work sometimes. That's why I love this freeform version, similar to an Italian crostata. The pastry is buttery and flaky, but not nearly as tricky to work with as conventional shortening or lard pastry and it’s really easy to make in a food processor. Best of all, you can make the pastry up to a week ahead of time! This crust is fantastic filled with all kinds of fruit, especially softer ones that don't require as much cooking. I have had success with apples as well, though I pre-cooked them with sugar and a little butter for about 5 minutes in a saucepan, then let them cool, prior to adding them to the pastry. If you're working with fresh, perfectly ripe peaches, they're a breeze - just wash, slice (peel if you must) and they're ready to go. If you are fortunate enough to have leftovers, this pie is absolutely sublime for breakfast, just in case you were wondering.



1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 egg yolk (reserve the white for brushing the crust before baking)
3 to 4 tbsp ice water



  • Approximately 1.5 pounds fresh ripe peaches
  • 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar



For the pastry

  Put the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of the food processor and pulse briefly to combine.

  Beat together the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of the cold water.

  Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds).

  With the machine running, pour the egg yolk and ice water through the feed tube in a steady stream. Turn off machine as soon as you have finished adding the water.

  Pinch a teaspoonful of the dough with your fingers to see if it holds together. If it seems a bit dry, add one more tablespoon of water and process for 5 seconds more.

  Turn the pastry out onto the counter and use your hands to gather it into a disc about 1 inch thick and 5 – 6 inches across. Cover the pastry with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour. This chills the butter again and also allows the flour to become fully hydrated. If you’re in a rush, pop the wrapped pastry into the freezer for 20 minutes or so. It’s much easier to roll out when chilled.

  If you make the pastry well ahead of time, you may need to let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes or so to make it soft enough to roll.

  Once the pastry has chilled, remove from refrigerator, unwrap, and sprinkle both sides of the pastry with a little bit of flour. Place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Working always from the centre of the disc, roll the pastry into a 15 inch circle that is uniform in thickness. Remove and discard the top parchment paper sheet.

  Keeping it on the bottom sheet of parchment paper, transfer the large pastry circle to a baking sheet (a pizza pan is great if you have one). Refrigerate the rolled-out pastry while preparing the filling.

For the filling

  Preheat the oven to 400F.

  Wash and rub the peaches to remove any fuzz.

  Cut the peaches into ½ inch thick slices, discarding the stem ends and pits, to make about 4 cups

  Place slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar; stir gently with a rubber scraper to combine.

  With a large spoon, scoop the peach slices and sugar into the centre of the pastry circle, leaving a three inch border of pastry around the peaches. The peaches should be evenly distributed in the centre of the pastry (i.e., not heaped up in the middle).

  With your fingertips, gently fold the border of the pastry up and over the peaches, pleating it as necessary. Press down gently on the pleats to make them stick. If you accidentally make any holes in the pastry, pinch the edges together to seal them up.

  Beat the remaining egg white with 1 teaspoon of sugar and brush over the pleated pastry border.

  Bake the tart in the centre of the oven for about 35 – 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown; if it appears to be cooking too quickly, reduce the heat to 375F.

  Remove the tart from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Best served within 4 hours of baking but still pretty terrific the next day as well.

Makes one 12 inch tart, serving 8 – 10

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