This weekend begins what is always called “The Unofficial Start of Summer”. Never mind the Equinox is over three weeks away and it’s been horridly cold and rainy this month. Nevertheless, this is the weekend that New Yorkers give up their weekends in the city and trek north, south, west and east. Because if there’s one thing New Yorkers like to do, it’s to get out of New York City.
To celebrate this exodus, I’d like to propose pushing summer’s start even further. I suggest making this Peach pie this weekend. It has everything going for it including the fact that it’s Gluten Free. I realize that most of us won’t see a ripe peach until the first of August, if then. Nonetheless, if we’re going to celebrate the start of summer in May, the least we can do is to bake a pie that speaks of High Summer. And the peaches should come as no problem at all. Because the original recipe for this luscious, creamy, coconut-y confection called for Canned Peaches. Yes! I discovered that not only did my local Trader Joe’s carry the peaches, they were absolutely perfect specimens. Behind the amber glass of their jar, these round peach halves were flawless and blemish-free. If you live nowhere near a Trader Joe’s, there are plenty of other jarred peach halves to choose from. Walmart even has one. So seek out the best ones you can find and go to town. Andrew managed to pull this incredible pie off right in our New York City kitchen which is only slightly larger than a breadbox and where we have only a hand mixer.
I give the credit for this recipe to Food 52 which is where Andrew found it. But the real honors should go to a contributor to that site called ‘Wanderash’. She entered it in a contest on Food 52 called “The Best Recipe or Technique Your Mother Taught You” Wanderash went back further. The origins of this pie go back four generations to her great grandmother. “Grandma Denessen” was the baker in a family so close-knit, they lived houses away from each other. Grandma’s contribution to the frequent entertaining the family did was this peach pie. She must have been dearly loved for it because it is an absolute treat–an amazing mixture that starts with an almond-flavored meringue crust that puffs up in the pie plate, which then gets filled with stewed peaches and their syrup and then topped with whipped cream infused with still more almond flavor.
Grandma Denessen’s original recipe used canned peaches but when Wanderash moved to Northern California, she switched to fresh ripe peaches. If you save this recipe for later in the season, you can too. Simply poach your own peaches per the instructions. But this dessert is so extraordinary, I’d bake it with canned peaches anytime. Then you can skip straight to Step 8 in the recipe.
Amber Olsen, an editor at Food 52 said it best: “This dessert is a joy to prepare, bake, eat and love!” And we couldn’t agree more. Andrew swears up and down that it’s not all hard to make. he made the meringue adding toasted coconut and slivered almonds to it before spreading the meringue into the pie plate. Half an hour later, he pulled the crust out of the oven, to let it cool. Then, about an hour before serving the pie, he made the whipped cream. Then he filled the pie crust with peaches, topped the peaches with whipped cream and put the pie back in the refrigerator and served it cold. Simply extraordinary! Here is the recipe:
Peach Pie with Coconut Meringue Crust
Absolutely luscious peach pie with crunchy almond meringue topping and lots and lots of whipped cream
- For the Stewed Peaches, if not using Canned.
- 5 ripe peaches
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lenghtwise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- For the Pie
- 5 extra-large egg whites
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups coconut, toasted
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 5 ripe peaches (or 1 can 28 oz. can peaches)
- 1 cup
- whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Step 1 For the Stewed Peaches:
- Step 2 Bring the water to a boil in a pot.
- Step 3 With a sharp knife make an “X” on the bottom of each peach. Place them in the boiling water. After about 2 minutes, or until the skin of the peach begins to curl up where the “X” is, remove them from the pot. Turn the burner off.
- Step 4 Starting where the “X” is, peel the skins off of the peaches. Cut in half and remove the pit and the stem.
- Step 5 Bring the water to a boil again and add the sugar, vanilla bean, lemon and any of the peach juices. When the sugar has dissolved, add the peaches and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until they are tender. Can be stored for five days in the fridge.
- Step 6 To make the Pie
- Step 7 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Step 8 Slice the peaches medium-thin and place them in a colander to drain. They should be very well drained before filling the crust.
- Step 9 Beat the egg whites and salt on high until foamy
- Step 10 gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.
- Step 11 Carefully fold in 1 cup of the toasted coconut and all of the almonds.
- Step 12 With a spatula and a light hand, spread the meringue into a well buttered 10-inch pie plate. Build the sides up, high above the edge of pie plate.
- Step 13 Bake the crust for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and dry along the edge. Let cool on counter top.
- Step 14 Whip the cream and vanilla.
- Step 15 One or two hours before serving, fill pie crust with peaches and top with whipped cream leaving a rim of peaches exposed around crust. Sprinkle remaining toasted coconut over whipped cream. Refrigerate until time to serve.