Fine Cooking (September 2010)
Have you ever fried a pie?
Though we've fried our fair share of proteins and veggies, pies have remained on our proverbial no-fry list. We've tasted a few fried pies. There were, of course, the old-fashioned McDonald's version when we were growing up. And Clay's great-grandmother, Annie, used to make fried apple pies all the time. We have the recipe and have talked about making it for a year now to share it with you (we'll try to do that soon).
So, although we're in no way fried pie fanatics, these Sweet and Spicy Fried Peach Pies called out to us as we were scoping out the September Fine Cooking. Sweet AND spicy? Coated in sugar and cinnamon? AND a peach filling?
So for our friend Jim's birthday, we whipped up a double batch of these pies.
These pies require some patience. It's a multi-step process but they're worth every minute.
You first make a basic pie dough that needs to be chilled for several hours. We planned to serve these pies on a Saturday evening, so we made our dough Friday night and let it sit overnight.
Next up is the filling. It's a sweet mixture of peaches and sugar, thickened by a slurry, spiced up by hot pepper jelly and cayenne, and then cooled.
The filling on its own is delicious, with a nice heat from the cayenne pepper and hot pepper jelly. We initially found the filling to be not nearly as spicy as we wanted. So we ended up essentially doubling the amount of cinnamon, cayenne and hot pepper jelly. The original proprotions are in the recipe below; you can tweak it to your own taste.
The pies then need to be assembled and then refrigerated for anywhere between 15 minutes and 24 hours. We were initially worried about the assembly of our pies. On some, we added too much filling, so it was squirting out as we were trying to seal the pies shut, but this turned out to not be a problem. We ended up assembling our pies in the late afternoon, going to the dinner with the birthday boy, and then returning to the house to fry the pies before heading to the birthday party.
The frying is a quick and painless process. Just heat up the oil and then fry the pies for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Remove them from the oil to drain on paper towels, then roll them in cinnamon and sugar. By the time you get to this step, the smell and the I'm-dying-to-taste-this factor are almost overwhelming enough to make you faint.
And when you do taste? Well, they're spectacular. Frying these pies gives them a crackly, crispy, flaky shell to house all that sweet/spicy/gooey goodness. We were pleased with the amount of spice we included in the mixture, especially since it's tempered by the sweetness of the cinnamon and sugar.
Perhaps where you live you'll still be able to get fresh peaches to use in these pies. (At our farmers market last weekend, there was a gloomy sign that read, "Last Week For Peaches.") If you can't get good-quality, fresh peaches, we think supermarket peaches will do just fine.
Also, we suspect this recipe could modified to use other fruit. Apples? Pears? Blackberries? What would you like to see in a fried peach pie?
And lastly, there was one moral to this story that we discovered the night we served these pies. Walking into a party with a plate full of warm fried pies makes you very popular. The next time you have an occasion to do so, make these pies. You'll be popular, too.
For the dough
11-1/4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
4-1/2 oz. (9 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. whole milk
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
For the filling
1 lb. 2 oz. firm-ripe peaches (2 large), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2-1/2 cups)
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
1-1/2 Tbs. hot pepper jelly
1-1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch plus 1/8 tsp. cayenne
Peanut or canola oil, for frying
Make the dough
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 pulses. Add the milk and lemon juice and pulse until the dough just starts to come together, 8 to 10 pulses more. Do not overprocess. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, gather it into a rectangle, and flatten slightly. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough with a 4-inch round cookie cutter into 12 circles. (If necessary, gather the scraps and reroll once.) Shingle the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate.
Make the filling
Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl in the water.
In a heavy-duty 3-quart saucepan, combine the peaches with 1/3 cup of the sugar, the lemon juice, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the peaches have softened and released some of their juices, about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with 1 Tbs. cold water. Add the slurry to the peach mixture and cook over medium-low heat until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the hot pepper jelly, 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne. Remove from the heat and stir to blend. Transfer the mixture to the bowl in the ice bath and cool.
Assemble the pies
Brush the perimeter of each dough round with water. Put a rounded tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Fold the dough in half to form a half-moon shape and pinch the edges together to seal. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours before frying.
Fry the pies
Combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne in a shallow bowl and reserve.
Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. Fill a 10-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) with 1/2 inch of oil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom. Heat the oil to 365°F and fry the pies in two batches until golden-brown, 1 to 1½ minutes per side. With a slotted spoon, remove the pies from the pan, drain on the paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and then dredge in the cinnamon-sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. These pies are best the day they’re made.