Two things right up front: (1) this pie is a pain to make, and (2) it is probably the only peach pie I will make from now on. I have a real job, so constructing a fruit pie that has four separate components is not usually on my agenda. I made an exception in this case because I had a day off, I love pie, and I love peaches. Pie is my favorite dessert item, hands down. I especially love custard pies. My second favorite dessert is peach cobbler. This pie is the perfect combination of both, so I had to make it.
I heard about this pie from some friends from Texarkana, TEXAS (I’ve learned people from Texarkana are particular about this distinction). The original pie is served at a place called Bryce’s Cafeteria. If you visit Bryce’s site right now, you will see that the pie is heavily featured (“It’s peach pie season!”). People apparently wait all year for this pie, and then promptly lose their minds over it. Disclosure #1: I’ve never been to Bryce’s, and have never tasted their peach cream pie. The version I made is a copycat recipe I found here. Disclosure #2: despite being from a peach-crazy state (South Carolina), I had never heard of a peach pie made like this. Peaches belong in cobblers. When peach pie is served, it is almost always a standard, double-crust fruit pie. By making this pie, I was putting myself on the knife’s edge of peach dessert-dom.
Okay, here we go.
Step one – make a homemade pie crust. And the wheels were already off. I don’t make homemade pie crust. Ever. It is difficult, boring, and pointless. Refrigerated crusts are delicious. They take very little time and effort. Use them. The end. I used a Trader Joe’s brand rolled pie crust. I thawed it according to the package directions, rolled it out a little more to make it the right size, put it in a pie plate, and crimped it using my fingers. The whole thing took 10 minutes (not counting thawing time). It tasted great.
Step two – blind bake the pie crust. I bought pie weights years ago. I’ve used them approximately three times, including this time. I’m glad to have a recipe that will let me utilize them more often. Here again, I just followed the directions on the pie crust box.
Step three – make the custard layer. The hardest part about this step was taking the time to strain the finished product through a sieve. It is really important, though, so don’t skimp on that to save time. And, honestly, if time is a concern for you, you shouldn’t have even gotten this far. Once the custard has thickened and been strained, put it in the baked pie crust. At this point, the pie has to be refrigerated for several hours with plastic wrap (or “cling film” as my dad calls it) placed directly on the custard surface. Wait time like this trips me up all the time. I am terrible about not reading a recipe all the way through, and then finding out thirty minutes before I have to serve something that it has to chill overnight. Gah! Fortunately, this was one of those times I actually read the instructions. Whew. A note about the custard: it is not very sweet. In a way, that is good, because the peaches are sweet. But on the other hand, I wish it had been a little sweeter with a little more vanilla. I think I will up those two ingredients slightly the next time I make this.
Step four – blanch the peaches. Blanching peaches is critical for effective peeling. I like peach peel fuzz, myself, but it doesn’t belong in a pie. Also, a lot of people are grossed out by it. To each her own. Anyway, I blanched the peaches for a couple of minutes in boiling water, then moved them immediately to an ice bath. Once they cool down, the peel just slides right off.
Step five – slice and macerate the peaches. This is pretty self-explanatory, but another step where waiting is involved.
Step six – cook the peaches. Corn starch makes a nice, thick syrup from the macerated juices. Delish! I would prepare peaches this way for a number of applications. For example, this would make an excellent topping for vanilla ice cream. It would also make a good milk shake or smoothie addition.
Step seven – pile the cooked peaches on top of the custard layer. We’re getting to the home stretch! Once the cooled peaches are in place, the pie needs to chill again. More waiting.
Step eight – make and apply the whipped cream. Y’all know how I feel about homemade pie crust. Well, I feel the exact opposite about homemade whipped cream. It is so easy to make, and exponentially better than store-bought. I think this is a good time to point out that whipped cream and Cool Whip are two different things. Cool Whip is awesome. Even Cool Whip Free is crazy good. You could totally use Cool Whip in this recipe if you wanted a shortcut. But in for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.
And…we’re done! The pie was very good, and totally worth the work. The labor involved makes this more of a special occasion dessert for me, but I strongly encourage y’all to try it this summer. Join me on the peach pie frontier!