Thursday, January 10, 2008

January 6, 2008: Lazy day peach and apple pie

Naturally I was in charge of dessert for our picnic, and I took my inspiration from the Age newspaper that was delivered to our flat that very morning. Inside the vacuous Sunday Life magazine was Karen Martini's free-form apple and peach tart. I was keen on enjoying some stone fruits and the weather was mercifully cool enough to crank up the oven in the early afternoon. But I didn't want the temptation of a pie in our fridge all week so I decided to halve the recipe.

This decision caused a minor problem that I didn't anticipate but enjoyed modelling mathematically later. The problem is that volume (the quantity of pastry dough) and area (the size of the rolled-out pastry circle) change at different rates. A half-quantity of pastry, if rolled out to the same thickness as the original, doesn't have half the diameter of the original, it has 70% the diameter of the original. Therefore you don't necessarily want to halve the quantity of fruit. As it happens I bought a bit of extra fruit, had extra left over after the pie construction, and thoroughly enjoyed eating it while the main event was baking.

The pie is delicious - all golden juicy fruit up against a buttery crust - but a bit heavy for hot weather. I suppose it's well-suited to Melbourne's summer, where the peaches are plentiful but there's the occasional 20 to 25 degree day. And right on cue, the breeze whipped up and the sky darkened a little just as it was time to eat out in the little park. The crust was plenty firm enough to support the filling as we ate with our hands and got everything sweetly sticky. If served more genteelly at home, it would be an absolute treat with a dollop of cream on top. I'm keen to try replacing the nutmeg with some grated fresh ginger in a future pie, too.

Lazy day peach and apple pie

150g butter
75g icing sugar
1 egg
300g plain flour
1 large granny smith apple
2 peaches
75g raw sugar
1/4 nutmeg, grated
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon

Use a food processor to combine the butter, icing sugar and eggs. Add the flour and process until the dough just comes together in a ball. On a large sheet of baking paper, roll out the dough until it's about 3 cm thick. Wrap it up and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

While the dough's in the fridge, peel and core the apple, slicing it into wedges. Cut the peaches into 8 wedges each. In a bowl, gently toss together the fruit with the raw sugar, nutmeg and lemon zest. Set the fruit aside for the flavours to develop.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Once the pastry's ready, roll into out in a rough circle to about 1 cm. (Martini reckons 2 cm but she's crazy. Even a 1 cm crust makes a hefty pie.) Pile up the fruit in the centre of the pastry, leaving a good 4cm or so crust around the edge. There'll probably be some juice settled in the bottom of the bowl - don't plonk it in the pie, but do save it for later. And don't use all the fruit if you think it's too much! Gently pull the pastry sides over the fruit on the edge - begin by levering up the pastry with the baking paper, then use your hands to gently mould the pastry together.

Lift the entire baking sheet onto a tray and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the pastry is golden. If there are any juices in the pie or reserved, brush them onto the pastry while the pie's still warm.


  1. Isn't it so true that pastry making and baking in general is like no other form of cooking, cripes, mathamatical modeling. So, if the halved quantity rolled out to 70% of the diameter of the original, was that in fact half the area of the original?

  2. Neil, perhaps we need to reclassify baking as a "hard science"! If rolled out to the same thickness, the halved quantity of pastry does indeed have half the area of the original. But then, how much of a lip do you allow to fold up over the fruit? Same as original, half the original, or something else? Perhaps 70% of the original... but then how much fruit is needed? If I could only pose the problem clearly, I'd be half-way to a solution. :-)

  3. (o_O)

    *itches from the breakout of hives courtesy of all the math-speak*

    Well, the tart looks delicious, but I'm gonna run away before this allergic reaction to the math gets any worse! :P

    Ellie @ Kitchen Wench

  4. Ellie, I'm sure there's no need for you to worry - your baked goods seem to turn out looking fabulous every time! Maybe you've got subconscious maths-skills you don't even know about. :-D