It's peak peach season, which means it's prime time to eat ripe ones by the basket, fresh, still warm from the sun, over the sink, letting the fuzz tickle your nose as the juices run down your forearms.
But because we've been waiting all year for stone fruit season, it's also nice to bake at least a few juicy peaches into a pie.
Between making and letting pie dough rest, rolling it out and trying to keep it cold in the heat of summer, making pie can be an ordeal. This recipe sidesteps that process: Its quickly mixed crumble topping and press-in bottom crust are made from the same cookie-like dough.
Start by making the crumble and crust, and then let them chill in the freezer while you prepare the peaches — this ensures that the crumble will be crunchy and the bottom crust firm and crisp.
For the filling, there's no need to peel the peaches. (If they are very fuzzy, a soak in cold water and gentle scrub with a dishcloth will remove some of the excess furriness.)
This is also where it's safe to say that you can use nectarines instead of peaches. As Petra Paredez of Petee's Pie in New York writes in her book "Pie for Everyone," nectarines can make a superior pie. "With all their similarities, it might seem silly to pick a side, but you'll still find me on team nectarine. Why? Stone fruit skin holds so much of its flavor, and you can use nectarines with skins on whereas many people find peach skin to be off-putting in a pie. ... If you want to make a 'peach' pie with nectarines, your secret is safe with me."
Whether you pick peaches or nectarines, all you'll need to do is slice them and toss them with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and a bit of salt. A touch of vanilla is optional, but can help if your fruit isn't as fragrant as you'd like. Pour the filling into the shaped bottom crust, top it with the crumble, and slide the whole thing into the oven.
Baking this pie in a preheated oven atop a preheated sheet pan is extra insurance — for drips, and to ensure a crisp, well-browned bottom crust. It takes about an hour to bake, and the best way to know when it's done is to check that the filling's juices are thick and forming slow-to-pop bubbles along the edges. By this point, the crust and crumble will be deeply browned and smell of toasted butter and caramelized sugar.
The last step to this pie is the easiest, but also the most annoying: You really must let it cool for at least an hour before trying to cut into it. But like all good things, it's worth the wait.
Peach Crumble Pie
If you use ripe peaches — or nectarines — there's no need to peel them; the peels give the baked pie a rosy hue. (If you prefer them peeled, see NOTE.) You can make the crust using all all-purpose flour, but for a more tender, flavorful crust, try the almond flour as suggested.
Before making the filling, taste the fruit. If it's very sweet, you may cut the sugar in the filling down to 1/2 cup.
Notes: Fresh peaches are best here, but you can also use sliced frozen or unsweetened (or very lightly sweetened) canned peaches. If using frozen peaches, do not defrost.
To peel whole peaches, fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Score a long, shallow "X" into the bottom of each peach before lowering them one at a time into the boiling water. Let them boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the peels start to loosen. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to the ice bath and let them cool for a few minutes. Drain and use your fingers to peel the peaches.
For the crust and crumble:
• 2 c. all-purpose flour (see Note)
• 1/2 c. almond or oat flour, or an additional 1/2 c. all-purpose
• 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
• 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
• 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened but cool to the touch, cubed
• 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
• 1 large egg, separated
For the filling:
• 2 1/4 lb. peaches (about 6 medium; see Note)
• 2/3 c. granulated sugar
• 1/3 c. cornstarch
• 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
• 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste, optional
Place a 9-inch pie plate in the freezer.
To prepare the crust and crumble: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, granulated sugar and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, blend it into the dry ingredients until it's no longer visible and the mixture holds together in loose clumps when pressed.
Scoop about 1 1/2 cups of the mixture into a small bowl, and add the brown sugar and egg yolk. Using your fingers or a fork, mix it together well, forming small and larger crumble nubbins as you go. Place the bowl of crumble in the freezer and retrieve the pie plate.
Whisk the egg white until frothy, then add it to the remaining flour-and-butter mixture. Using a fork or your fingers, stir the mixture together until it's evenly moistened and holds together when squeezed. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the cold pie plate, forming an even layer and a short lip at the top. Work quickly, so the warmth from your hands doesn't melt the butter in the dough.
Return the crust to the freezer, and freeze until solid, 15 to 20 minutes.
Place a rimmed baking sheet on a rack positioned in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
To prepare the filling: While the crust is chilling, pit and cut the peaches into approximately 3/4-inch-thick slices. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt until no lumps remain. Add the peaches, lemon juice and vanilla, if using, tossing until evenly mixed.
Retrieve the pie crust and crumble topping from the freezer. Pour the filling into the crust, top it with the crumble and place it on the rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Check to see if crumble or the edges of the crust are browning too quickly. If so, loosely cover the top of the pie with aluminum foil. Continue baking for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until the crust and crumble are well browned and the peach juices are thick and form a few slow-to-pop bubbles along the edge.
Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
Storage notes: Leftover pie may be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Make ahead: Crust and crumble may be well wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks.