Cinnamon Peach Pie with Braid Crust

Summer peaches with a touch of cinnamon.  The all-butter crust is perfectly  flakey and playful with a braided top.  The quintessential peach pie while stone fruit is at its peak!

Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.

I start my cookbook by saying that I have zero recollection of baking with my grandmother as a child, like most of my peers do.  This isn’t because I have a poor memory, it is because I never had any desire to be in the kitchen until I was an adult. I come from a family of outstanding cooks, but it wasn’t until I lived on my own that I began tinkering around with different dishes and flavor pairings.  Instead of my grandma or my mom, it was the early days of Food Network that got me interested in food and cooking.

An unconventional schedule packed with college classes and late-night dance team practices introduced me to the world of day-time television.  It was late afternoons when I was able to find some downtime, and it was Food Network that helped me unwind in between activities.  I’d watch the likes of Giada and Rachel Ray while I brushed up on homework and would find myself engulfed in whatever they were cooking up that day.  I literally found myself thinking, “I think I can do that!”  I was probably 20 years old when I bought myself a little paring knife, a couple sauce pans, and got to work.  My first cake pan was actually a 5-inch, nearly useless spring-form pan, since I had no idea what I was shopping for…

Fast forward over a decade later, and my love for cooking and food has only grown stronger and stronger.  Clearly.  I ended up making it my career!  Currently, I run this blog, am a cookbook author, and freelance by developing recipes and photographing articles for various brands and publications.  That being said, when I opened my inbox to find an inquiry from Food Network, it is probably no surprise that I nearly fell off my desk chair from excitement!

Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.

I started writing for Food Network Canada earlier this Spring.  At first, I contributed some tips and tricks for making buttercream cakes for a slideshow that they were putting together.  Flash-forward a few months, and I have four articles up on www.foodnetwork.ca and a few more in the cue.  Literally a dream come true!

My latest article that went up early this week was all about pie.  If you remember me talking about pie earlier this year, then you might recall that pie hasn’t always my thing.  Confession: I am officially obsessed!  I originally gravitated towards cake decorating as a creative outlet.  But guess what guys?  Not only is pie-making somewhat therapeutic (when the dough is co-operating), it has given me even a new way to express my artistic side.  Braids, lattice, and a combination of the two - the options for top crusts are endless!  Buttercream may always be my favorite medium to work with, but my new found love for pastry crust (not to mention all of the delicious fillings!!) seems to be taking on a life of it’s own.  Good thing too, because when Food Network asked me to put together a step-by-step article for three different ways to decorate a pie, I was quick to oblige. 

Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.

This Cinnamon Peach Pie uses my favorite braided top with a classic fluted edge.  To be honest, this is the first peach pie I have ever made, but I couldn’t be happier with the results.  Peaches are in their prime right now, and while you don’t want to use the ripest fruit you can find (save those just for eating fresh!), the ones I picked up from my local market were bursting with flavor.  Paired with a touch of cinnamon spice to compliment the natural sweetness of the fruit, this just might be the best peach pie I ever tasted. Everything about it, from preparing the fruit to making the pastry by hand next to the open window in my kitchen, embodies summer.  

Stay tuned for even more pies as we head into fall and be sure to check out all the techniques over on Food Network.

Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.

Cinnamon Peach Pie

All-Butter Crust
adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
½ cup cold water
¼ cup ice
1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar
1 egg
splash milk
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar.  Place the ice in the water and set aside.

2.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers.  Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms.  Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.

3.  Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar.  Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl.  The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky.  Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed.  Do not over-mix.

4.  Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).

5. Once ready, bring one disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll.  Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. 

6.  Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin.  Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang.  Trim with kitchen sheers and place back in the refrigerator.

7.  For the braided top, repeat step 5.  Using a ruler and a paring knife, cut 21 strips, about a 1/2-inch wide.  Braid in groups of three and place on a baking sheet or cutting board and place in the refrigerator, along with any leftover dough.

8.  Meanwhile, make the filling (recipe to follow).

9.  Fill the chilled pie crust with the peaches by layering them in tightly, but leaving the juices behind.  Remove the braids from the refrigerator and place on top of the filling. Allow for some excess dough on the end of each strip, then trim.

10.  Fold all of the excess dough around the edges under itself and crimp using your thumb and index finger.

12.  Return the pie back to refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

13.  Just before heading into the over, create an egg wash by whisking together a whole egg and a splash of milk.  Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

14.  Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

15.  Allow the baked pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.

Cinnamon Peach Filling
2 1/2 pounds fresh peaches
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Pit and slice the peaches into 1/3 to 1/2 inch wedges.  Toss in the lemon juice and set aside.

2.  In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.

3.  Combine the peaches with the dry ingredients until evenly coated, taking care not to smash the fruit.