In this heat, all I want to do is cook from A New Turn in the South. Hugh Acheson is from Ottawa, but he cooks in Athens, Georgia, and in Atlanta.
And his kind of cooking—definitely southern, with refreshing twists that will cool you right down—sits well with me on these hot, humid Toronto days.
When I bought a basket of peaches at the market, I went straight for Acheson’s cookbook.
Admittedly, peach pie that needs to be baked for forty-five minutes is not his best recipe for the hottest days. You have a choice: Either wait for a cool day, or promise yourself you won’t lose it and kill someone in your excruciatingly hot kitchen.
Adapted from Hugh Acheson’s recipe in A New Turn in the South
Pie crust (your favourite butter-based recipe), enough for two layers of a 9-inch pie plate
½ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
3 tablespoons arrowroot OR 2 tablespoons cornstarch plus 1 tablespoon white flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Peaches (Acheson recommends 8 large ones, I used a dozen smallish ones), peeled, pitted and sliced)
1 ½ cold butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
First, prepare your dough. Roll out the bottom on a floured surface, and place into a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess. Roll out the top dough, and punch out a few decorative (and practical—the steam will escape) shapes with a small cookie cutter. You can reserve the punched out pieces to decorate the top of your pie, too.
In a large bowl, combine the sugars (except for the 1 tablespoon, which you’ll reserve for the top of the pie), arrowroot, cinnamon and salt. Mix in the peach slices until coated evenly. Immediately (and before the whole thing becomes a goopy mess), pour into the prepared pie dish. Scatter the cubed butter over the fruit, and place the second layer on top, pinching, crimping and trimming to make it tidy. With a brush, spread a thin layer of egg (if you are decorating your pie with the cutouts, coat the under side of the cutouts to make them stick). Sprinkle the sugar on top.
Place the pie in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, while you heat your oven to 415F. Place a large cookie sheet in the oven to heat it up. That is something I’ve just learned from Acheson. I believe it helps distribute the heat evenly across the pie crust.
To bake the pie, place the plate on the pre-heated cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven to 370F and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden, and the peach filling is bubbling enthusiastically. Serve with much vanilla ice cream and preferably outside, under the shade.