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Got peaches? Make skillet pie

Make Peach Skillet Pie with this year’s abundant local peaches.
Make Peach Skillet Pie with this year’s abundant local peaches. The Kansas City Star

You can make almost anything in a cast iron skillet, including pie. Peach Skillet Pie is one of my favorites.

Peaches are a dicey proposition in the lower Midwest: Warm days in late winter cause the trees to blossom, setting the stage for crop failure at the hands of late hard freezes. But this year’s cool, wet spring produced a bountiful crop in Kansas and Missouri.

Local peaches started showing up a couple of weeks ago and should be around through the end of August at farmers markets, produce stands and you-pick orchards.

I don’t use a recipe when I make skillet pie; any pastry crust and any fruit filling will work.

For my Peach Skillet Pie, I make enough pastry crust for a single-crust pie and 8 to 10 large peaches or 12 smaller ones.

After you make the crust, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I learned how to bake in France, so I like the flavor butter lends to a crust, but I also like the flaky texture you get with lard, so I use both. The outstanding “Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook” has a sweet pie crust recipe that combines butter and lard.

Roll the crust out to a circle a few inches larger than the diameter of the skillet. Put the dough in the skillet, draping the edges over the sides of the pan. Sprinkle a small handful of sugar onto the bottom of the crust.

For the filling, I peel and slice the peaches in wedges directly into the crust so all the juices go in the pie. Then I sprinkle another couple of handfuls of sugar on top of the peaches, depending on how sweet the peaches are. After you make it a few times, you will get better at judging how much sugar to use.

Next I take a cold stick of butter and cut thin slices off onto the surface of the peaches, maybe two tablespoons total. Then I sprinkle the tiniest amount of cinnamon imaginable across the top — in a perfect world, you can’t taste the cinnamon as a separate flavor, it just adds smoky depth to the peach flavor.

Bake the pie about 30 minutes. Make sure it bubbles well before pulling it out or it won’t thicken properly.

If you need specific measurements, here is a recipe from the charming “A Year of Mennonite Cooking” blog by a young woman in Wichita.

But I would encourage you to wing it. There are worse ways to spend your time than experimenting with pie. Even if the crust is a little dark or the filling a little runny, it’s better than store bought.

To reach Cindy Hoedel, call 816-234-4304 or send email to choedel@kcstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @CindyHoedel, and at facebook.com/cindy.hoedel.

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