Introduction: Peach-Mango Pie With a Lattice Crust
Peach and mango work really well together, so why not put them in a pie? And, for the math geeks, why not give in to the visual play of a little π symbol on your pie (especially if it's March 14th )?
These instructions will yield one 9" lattice-topped Peach-Mango pie, sweet but with a little hint of curry in the spices (I love the combination of curry and mango, since you can take it in either a sweet or savory direction depending on your other ingredients).
Total time from start-to-eat is about 3 1/2 hours, but only about 45 minutes of that is active prep time. No time like the present to get started, so…
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients and Gear
Gather up the following ingredients:
For the Crust
12 oz. all-purpose flour (I do almost all of my baking by weight, but if you don't have a scale, this is about 2 2/3 US cups), plus additional flour for dusting
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 oz. cold water
3 oz. vodka
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
For the Filling
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Ripe mangoes and peaches are best. Try to find "freestone" peaches, meaning one of the varieties that doesn't "cling" to the stone. Most peaches sold in supermarkets are freestone peaches (cling peaches are what tend to be sold canned), but ask your produce person if you can't tell. If you can't find fresh fruit, you can substitute frozen or canned here, but you might want to cut back on the sugar a bit if using canned, since they usually have added sugar already. You'll want about 6 cups of fruit, total.
I had a little bit of homemade curry powder that I used here, but any mild curry powder based on tumeric, fenugreek, coriander, and cumin will taste fine. If you aren't big on curry, feel free to omit it.
Along with measuring cups and spoons, these instructions call for:
* a food processor fitted with a metal blade
* a mixing bowl
* a colander
* a wooden spoon
* a medium saucepan
* a whisk
* a 9" pie plate
* a sharp, thin-bladed knife (I use a long paring knife, but a boning knife or filet knife would work)
* a vegetable peeler
* plastic wrap
* a rolling pin
* something to cut a small (2-3") round or dough with (biscuit cutter, drinking glass, whatever)
A kitchen scale is nice to have to measure your flour, but you can live without it.
Optionally, you can also grab an egg and a pastry brush to give the top an egg wash before baking.
Step 2: Make the Dough for Your Pie Crust
When making your pie crust, the most important thing is to keep your ingredients well-chilled. You don't want the butter to melt on you, or you'll end up with a tough, greasy crust instead of a nice, flaky one. Making pie crust from scratch scares a lot of people, but it really isn't that hard to do, especially with a food processor. This recipe also takes out a little insurance, by using a little extra liquid in the form of vodka. The alcohol in the vodka helps to limit the formation of gluten proteins in the dough, which will help you get a dough that can be rolled without breaking up too much and without also making the dough tough.
The recipe for pie crust just happens to be something you can think of like a ratio (just like π!) The basic ratio is 1 part liquid : 2 parts fat : 3 parts flour, by weight, although we're upping the liquid amount here just a bit as mentioned above.
So, take a deep breath, and start by taking your butter out of the refrigerator and cutting it into fairly large pieces (between 10 and 14 pieces from a single stick of butter is about right.) Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the work bowl of your food processor, and add half of the chunks of butter, tossing them in the flour to coat them a little, as shown in the third picture. Pulse the food processor in one-second pulses, about 10-12 times, until the butter is cut into very small pieces in the flour and the mix looks like coarse sand (fourth photo). Add the remaining chunks of butter, and give another 4 or 5 one-second pulses. This will leave some large chunks of butter, about the size of a pea or small bean, which will get smeared out when you roll the dough later and make things flaky (fifth photo). Dump the flour and butter mix into a mixing bowl.
Combine the cold water and vodka. Sprinkle a few tablespoons over the flour mixture, stir it in gently with the wooden spoon, and repeat the sprinkle-stir cycle until all the liquid is added and the dough holds its shape when you squeeze a bit of it in your hand.
Form the dough loosely into a disc, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap (I usually do two separate layers--you can see from the lead photo on this step that you may not get the disc firmly enough together with just one layer), and put it in the refrigerator for about an hour, to let the flour absorb all of the water.
Step 3: Prep the Fruit for Your Filling
Start with the mangoes. I don't like to peel the mangoes first, since the thick skin on top of soft fruit leads to a lot of mashed fruit and a very slippery thing that you need to carve a big pit out of. Instead, I segment the mango first and cut the peel off the segments.
Hold the stem end of the mango up. Looking down at the stem, the pit of the mango runs though the widest part. Start by cutting the two "cheeks" of the mango off on either side of the pit, then the smaller pieces that remain. Cut the two large pieces in half, then cut each half in half again. Then, cut the peel off each slice by inserting the blade on one end, and run the knife along the peel while pressing the knife down a bit to hold the peel down as you go, as shown in the fourth photo. Cut the mango into one inch chunks and set aside.
The peaches I peel first, since the skin it too thin to work with like the mangoes. A sharp vegetable peeler works reasonably well. After peeling, run the knife along the "seam" of the peach, all the way around the peach. Grab on either side of the cut (seventh photo), and twist in opposite directions to separate the fruit from the pit (eighth photo). Cut your peaches into slices.
In a mixing bowl, combine the fruit, lime juice, salt, and brown sugar and toss to combine. Transfer the fruit mixture to a colander, and put the colander over the mixing bowl to catch the juice that will run off. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
Step 4: Finishing the Filling
After sitting for 20-30 minutes, a good amount of liquid will have run off of the peaches. Transfer the liquid to a medium saucepan, place over medium-high heat, and simmer until reduced by half and thickened. Add the instant tapioca, curry powder, cinnamon, and ginger, and the thickened juices and set the mixture aside while you prepare the crust.
Step 5: Rolling Out the Crust
After the hour is up, retrieve one of your discs of dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it. It should hold together on its own and look fairly consistent, as in the second photo for this step.
Sprinkle your work surface and coat your rolling pin well with extra flour. Unwrap the dough, place it on the floured work surface, and sprinkle still more flour on top of it. Use the rolling pin to roll the dough out to a large circle, about 12" in diameter (use your pie plate as a guide to check that you've rolled it out enough). I tend to roll it out a little bit, give the dough a quarter turn, roll it out a bit more, and so on. This way, if I notice anything starting to stick, I can loosen it up a bit with my bench scraper or a butter knife, and toss down a little more flour before it gets really stuck.
If you should get tears in the crust as you work, don't panic. Just apply a little cold water on one side of the tear, pull the other side of the tear to overlap, sprinkle on some flour, and roll to seal.
When you're done, you should see some of the butter, smeared out into big flakes, inside the dough.
Step 6: Transfer the Crust to the Pie Plate
Gently roll the crust onto your rolling pin, move the pie plate into position, then carefully roll the crust back off the pin and into the pie plate.
Use your fingers to gently press the crust down into the corners of the pan. Once again, if the crust should tear, just use a little water as glue to press the tear back together again.
Step 7: Filling the Pie
Stir the peach-mango-spice mixture well, to get the spices combined thoroughly with the fruit, and pour the whole mess into the crust. Use your hands to press the fruit down and make any air pockets in the filling as small as you can (the fruit will get a bit smaller as it cooks already, and leaving too many air pockets can result in a really big gap between the filling and the top crust.)
Now is as good a time as any to move a rack in your oven to lower-middle position and preheat it to 375°F.
Step 8: Making the Lattice Top
Remove the second disc of dough from the refrigerator and roll it out as you did the first one. Cut the dough into 1/2" strips with a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or pie wheel (I used a pie wheel here that results in a wavy edge detail). I usually just eyeball the widths, but if you want to be precise and break out a ruler and a straightedge, that's entirely up to you (if you're here making a π-topped pie, you might just be in the ruler-and-straightedge part of the audience.)
Start weaving the lattice by laying one strip across the pie, just off-center. Lay a second strip, also just off-center and perpendicular to the first strip (see the second photo). Lay a third strip parallel to the first, leaving a small gap. Take your first strip and fold it back over the strip that crosses it, and lay down a fourth strip parallel to the second. The result is shown in the third photo. Unfold the first strip.
I usually weave all the way "north", then "south", then "east" and "west". The same technique of folding back half of the strips, laying down a new crossing strip, and unfolding the strips will get you to a compete lattice.
(In reality, if you just want to lay half the strips in one direction, and the other half perpendicular, without weaving, that works too. I've seen that referred to as a "false lattice top", and they still look and taste fine.)
If you want a little π pie topper, roll out your dough scraps and use your round cutter to cut a small dough circle. Wet the back with a little water and press it onto the center of the lattice. Then, using a sharp knife, freehand cut a small π symbol, wet the back with a little water, and press it onto the middle of your dough round.
Step 9: Crimping the Crust
With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, trim the crust evenly all the way around the pie plate, leaving about 1/2" of crust overhanging the lip of the plate. Fold this lip over onto itself and press a little to start sealing it.
To crimp the crust, you can either use the tines of a fork, pressed in to the folded lip slightly all the way around the pie, or form a scalloped edge. To form the scalloped edge, use the thumb and index finger on your left hand to pinch a bit of the folded lip, and the thumb and index finger on your right hand to pinch the lip right next to where you're pinching with your left hand. Then just press in a bit with the thumb of your right hand to make an indentation (see the second photo). Repeat all the way around the pie.
If you want your crust to have a little bit of a sheen to it, beat an egg well and use a pastry brush to put a light coating over all of the exposed crust. You could also sprinkle a little bit of table sugar onto the egg wash if you like.
Step 10: Baking and Serving Your Pie
Bake in your 375°F oven for 60-70 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool at least an hour before serving, so the filling can set up a bit (and so that you're not taking a bite into sweet, sweet lava.)
I'd serve this with whipped cream or ice cream. Vanilla would be OK, but a scoop of pistachio would really complement the other flavors.
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