And the only reason it was ugly is because *I* baked it.
The original pie baked by baker extraordinaire Deb of Smitten Kitchen is very attractive with peach slices arranged artfully in a tender crust rolled out in a smooth circle. Like this.
But I was not blessed with the ability to craft precise food. All of my cooking and baking looks a bit sloppy, very homemade and well, let’s just call it rustic. Yeah, rustic. Some people have geometric precision built into their ways in the kitchen. They can turn out picture perfect cakes:
Photo by Stacey Snacks
While my baking more resembles:
Now this is not to say that what I turn out doesn’t taste good, it does. I have a pretty good palate and know my way around the kitchen, but I lack the precision and patience required to turn out works of art.
There is a cultural component too. I was raised on Russian food, and while hearty and filling, it cannot be called delicate, refined or pretty, even if you tried. Some Russian staples include buckwheat groats, a loaded potato salad, homemade dumplings, a soup made with barley and pickles, pigs feet in aspic (no joke), and many recipes borrowed from surrounding areas like borscht, cabbage rolls and kebabs. S ay what you will but those foods do not lend themselves to a delicate presentation or precision in their making. If anything a part of their charm is their adaptability to local conditions, tastes and availability of ingredients. But there is a reason you don’t see many Russian recipes in cookbooks.
So needless to say when faced with recipes that look like they came out of a magazine, I sigh and think to myself ‘wait till you see what it looks like in my kitchen.’ (In fact that should be a rite of passage – have your recipe tested by me, because then you’ll know what it really looks like in a home kichen). I’m sure they’d see it and cry. But if they turn out delicious, then I feel the need to shake off any hesitation of posting such contrasting works of art and share them with the world. And if your recipes never come out looking as perfect as they do in magazines, stand proud – you’re in good company.
Up until the weekend I had the remnants of the last fresh peaches from BC which tasted heavenly but which were not going to last much longer. They were developing the telltale little brown spots that clearly said ‘eat me now’, and we were stuffed full of ‘em. My friend Google suggested a lovely sounding pie which I promptly proceeded to make.
Other than the time to chill the dough, it came together very quickly.
Pre-bake the crust for a few minutes, smear some crème fraiche, throw in peaches tossed with sugar, add a bit more crème fraiche and a streusel topping which took two minutes to make, seriously.
And the result? While not fit for a photo shoot, this was a seriously delicious pie. Somewhere I went a bit wrong with the dough and it was a bit too buttery, with butter oozing out of the pre-baked crust, and there was likely too much streusel – next time I’d add less and see what happens. And I didn’t have a proper pie plate to bake it in, my last one falling victim to a moving accident. But the flavors were stellar. Juicy tender peaches with just enough sugar to flavor the crème fraiche and bursts of flavor from the streusel made for a very grown up delight. I’d make this again in a heartbeat, tweaking the recipe for any stone fruit around and perhaps trying this dough thing one more time.
In a small bit of gardening news, I planted some beautiful fragrant daffodils in my beds for next year, replacing a very ugly evergreen bush that was simply not thriving. Since the sun sets abysmally early these days I had to plant in the dark. Wielding the shovel I felt kind of criminal, like I was burying a body or something, but that’s gardening in the north for ya.