Growing up, I was never too keen on peaches. I suspect that stems from the sad excuse for peaches that were suspended in the syrupy goo of fruit cocktail. They were mushy, fleshy and tasted of tin. Honestly, the only thing worth eating were the illusive cherry halves anyhow.
I associated rye with the marbled bread of Reubens from the deli, piled high with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. The most disgusting combination imaginable as a kiddo. Oh, and rye was from that song, American Pie:
"Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die"
I was well into my 20's before I learned that the lyric was "rye", not "wine". Thankfully, I've grown up, and so have my tastebuds. I now love rye bread, drink more rye whiskey than I care to admit, and I am coming around to peaches. So, when I was asked to participate in a food blogger collaboration celebrating all things peaches this summer, I decided to it was high time to get peachy keen.
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I was handed a sample of Red Top Peaches while strolling through the market last weekend, and I literally gave them all of the cash I had. I had a bag full of peaches and I had to figure out what to do with them. Pie, of course! I am a hardcore pie fanatic. I gravitate towards baking berry pies in the summer, like this Cherry Bourbon Pie, or these Huckleberry Hand Pies. If I'm gonna eat peaches, I can't imagine a better way than baked into a tender, flaky all butter crust. In an effort to grow up and enjoy some of the flavors that were lost on my youth, I developed this recipe for Rye Rye Peach Pie.
I adapted my standard All Butter Vodka Pie Dough to have a more distinct and fuller flavor by swapping out ½ cup for the all purpose flour for a nuttier and heartier rye flour. I typically use vodka to hydrate the dough as the alcohol evaporates quicker than water and prevents the gluten strands from forming. The result is a super flaky crust. I figured rye whiskey would pretty much do the same in the crust, and would bring a woodsy richness to the peach filling. This Rye Rye Peach Pie embodies the peak summer flavors with freshly picked, locally grown peaches, but also has a depth from the rye that basic peach pie just doesn't offer.
I am not gonna lie, developing this Rye Rye Peach Pie put me through the ringer. Rye flour has much more coarse grain than all purpose flour, and when you add moisture it tends to get gummy. Getting the rye pie dough dialed was a challenge, especially since it's summer and over 80° in my kitchen. For the record, cold butter and hot kitchens do not play nice. Thankfully, there was plenty of rye whiskey around to keep me from scrapping the experiment entirely. And boy, am I glad I didn't give up because this Rye Rye Peach Pie is far and away the most amazing peach pie I've ever had, and I am pretty dang picky when it comes to peaches.
I did the dirty work testing and retesting the rye pie dough. After 5 iterations, I landed on this flaky and full flavored rye pastry dough. With 2 cups all purpose flour and just ½ cup of rye flour, this recipe is distinctly nutty without being dense and heavy (as rye tends to be). I am a big butter believer, so this pie only uses butter, no shortening, in the tender crust. The second round of rye is in the filling. The supple peaches get sloppy drunk on rye whiskey and sweeten back up with heavy doses of brown sugar and cinnamon.
This Rye Rye Peach Pie is slightly more labor intensive than a classic Peach Pie but the results are well worth effort. With my tips and tricks (an maybe a shot of whiskey), you'll barely notice the extra steps.
Here are some key tips to keep in mind when baking up my perfectly rustic Rye Rye Peach Pie.
- Too much rye flour makes for a dense and heavy crust. Blending the rye flour with all purpose flour brings the nutty flavor of the rye without weighing things down. This recipe uses 2 cups all purpose flour to a ½ cup of rye flour.
- Use rye whiskey in the crust instead of water. It slows the formation of gluten and evaporates faster while baking, resulting in a superior flakiness.
- Rye pie dough needs to chill. I am not just saying that because that's what millennials say. The longer the dough rests in the fridge, the more it will become smooth and cohesive and band together instead of falling apart or turning to mush when you roll it out. I suggest chilling the rye pie dough for a minimum of 8 hours and up to 24 hours. It makes a huge difference and saves you the headache of underdeveloped dough.
- Work quickly when your dough is out. This rye flour pie dough is trickier and has more attitude than classic pie dough. It tends to act up faster when rolling it out. So, let the dough rest on the counter for about 5 minutes and start rolling when it's still pretty chilled. If it cracks, seal it back up and keep at it. If it gets sticky, use a bench knife to scrape it up from the counter. If it warms up too much and gets sticky, let it chill the F out again.
- Brushing the top of the Rye Rye Peach Pie with a mix of egg wash and rye whiskey just before baking will give the pie a nice sheen and the alcohol in the wash and the dough will help to caramelize the crust. Mmm.
- I used Red Top Peaches. They are a yellow peach variety that is tart and tangy in a way that is similar to nectaries. For pies, it's best to use a peach with a more acidic punch, so reach for tangy yellow instead of mellow white peaches.
- You could spend a bunch of time blanching and peeling the peaches, but I don't think it's worth it unless you have peaches that have an absurdly thick skin. The skin pretty much melts away when the pie bakes and adds a bit of texture and flavor.
- Adding rye whiskey to the filling mellows the sweetness and adds a depth the the peaches. I don't know that I've ever met a soul who doesn't liked a little whiskey with their peaches.
- Freezing the entire pie for at least 1 hour, up to a couple of months, will help keep the structural integrity of the pie. It is a rustic pie, but when you work so hard to shape it, you don't want it to fall flat when it hits the oven. Freeze it before you bake it.
- This may be stating the obvious, but this pie pairs like a dream with a glass of rye whiskey, neat.
For years, I've vowed that the day I started liking peaches would be that day that I die. This Rye Rye Peach Pie is to die for. Time to drink more whiskey and rye.