The treasure hunt through the old boxes continues! I have found the crème de la crème of treasures in this Fresh Peach and Sour Cream pie. This is one of the first pies I tried baking way back in time, and over the years I have made it many times. It is a somewhat complex recipe, yet it really isn’t that difficult to make! And the reward is a home-style pie that has a simple elegance.
Way back in time I had a dinner club with other 20-something work friends. We were young, poor, and looking to upscale our socializing. There were six of us in that club, and we each took turns hosting a dinner event. The host would prepare the main meal, the past-host would bring the dessert, and the future-host would bring an appetizer. The host would select a beverage for the meal – and everyone else was free to bring their own beverages of choice. No driving allowed!
The club met every 2 weeks, and generally on a Friday or a Saturday. And occasionally we would extend the evening into some other type of a social outing. Perhaps a movie, or a visit to a local love music event. For the most part we enjoyed a leisurely meal and discussed the topical issues of the day.
I was the old man of the group at 28. The others were all young women recently graduated from university and setting out into the world. They all had their boy-friends or girl-friends outside of our group – and of course these “significant others” would be involved on host-night since it was usually in their shared domestic spaces. Ah young love! Ah youth.
I made this pie for one event and it was a tremendous hit. Served and gone in a flash! It became the “repeat” request for future events. Over the years we drifted apart so the group shrank from 6 to 4 to 3 and then no more. We found life-partners and we all had less time for hosting. A short-while after the club ended one young lady – Katrina and her partner Martin – asked me to make it for their wedding. I made 15 pies for that wedding.
My own partner at the time was not impressed. Katrina and I had known each other for many years and we had a comfortable flirty relationship. Katrina (Kat) had a subtle sexual bubble seeping from her skin and her infectious personality. My own partner Ellen (El) was not very impressed with Kat and made it clear that Kat wasn’t welcome into our home. Given that Kat and I hadn’t interacted much in the last year made the pie request somewhat surprising. Perhaps I should have declined. Still in my mind it was an honour I could not refuse.
The day before the wedding I took off the day from work and cooked up a storm. 14 pies in deep-dish aluminium pans, and 1 pie for the head-table in a locally crafted ceramic pie-plate commissioned by me for the bride and groom. An elegant peach glazed by the potter in the bottom of the pie-plate.
So about that pie. Here are the ingredients
4 cups fresh sliced peaches (you can leave the skin on but I peel them)
1 cup sugar, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 portions
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit salt if you use salted butter)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
I’ll continue my wedding pie story in a few paragraphs – here in the meantime is how you combine the ingredients.
Cut butter into flour and salt. Press the dough into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.
Slice peaches into a bowl; sprinkle with 1/4 sugar. Let stand while you prepare the rest of the filling. Combine 3/4 cup sugar with the flour, egg, salt and vanilla until well blended. Fold in the sour cream. Stir in the peaches. Pour the peach mixture into the prepared crust.
This pie requires baking at two different temperatures. We start at 400 degrees F. Pre-heat the oven and place the pie on the middle rack for 15 minutes.
So back to my story. Grab a coffee or a tea while the pie bakes for 15 minutes – oh remember to set that timer!
El wasn’t happy with me. She said that it was inappropriate for me to make pies for “that woman”. Now El and I had been together by this point for 5 years and we had a child. We owned a home together, had investments together. Kat and Martin had been engaged for 6 years and living together for longer than that. So I didn’t really get the cold attitude towards Kat. However, I did stop inviting them over for dinner. That was perhaps my first mistake.
Kat and I occasionally would meet for coffee since we worked in the same company. That was also a problem, but I did refuse to back off on that one. As I said to El – there are no bedrooms are work so it is very unlikely Kat and I would do anything besides drink coffee and talk! That kind of an attitude didn’t win me any home points – and occasionally awarded me a bonus couch.
Okay back to the pie here – 15 minutes are up and so we turn the heat down to 350 degrees F and set the timer for another 20 minutes. Now is a good time to get the topping ready!
Combine the sugar, flour and butter until crumbly.
Whew that wasn’t too hard was it?
So when Kat requested the pies – El was livid. And there was no way I was backing down. Kat had been my friend for years and this was a request for Kat’s wedding day to marry a man that wasn’t me. And El wasn’t helping me make the pies.
As I said I took the day off work and made all the pies – and also cooked El her favourite meal of prime rib and baked potatoes. When she saw the pies all prepared and packaged to go she seemed to mellow. The meal seemed to ease her thoughts and the wine with the meal seemed to melt her iceberg. Boy was I wrong. Hell had just frozen over in a big way, and when a woman says “everything is just fine!” it is time to run. However back then I didn’t know that reality.
The wedding and the reception where held together in an old curling rink. Not the classiest of venues. I guess I didn’t mention that Kat and Martin didn’t have much money and so they had planned a rather frugal wedding. This is why I was making the pies. All their friends were helping out in some way. The hall space was donated. Martin was a musician and so the music was provided by his musician friends. The celebratory meal was a pot-luck – with a wide variety of foods from many different cultures. And it all lacked a certain refined elegance.
El was sniping the whole event. The review from El’s side ran like this: the personal vows written by the bride and groom were “bizarre” and “inappropriate”. The music was “all wrong” and performed by “amateurs”. The food was a mish-mash without theme or taste. In all it was a schlocky wedding clearly revealing the low breeding and values of the bride and groom. Oh and yes El was vocal about sharing this with the other guests.
When it was time for dessert I brought the “wedding” pie up to the head table and made a brief speech to the guests about the history of the pie and my friendship with Kat and Martin both. As I spoke the other pies where taken to each table for the guests. Then Kat and Martin cut the pie and fed each other a piece – just as if it was wedding cake.
The 20 minutes should be up – now pull out the pie and sprinkle the crumble over the top. Set the oven to 400 degrees F again and bake for 10 minutes more.
Let the pie cool and then be prepared to enjoy the best peach pie you will ever taste!
I went back to the table to have some pie, and El stood up. “Is this freak show over yet?” she growled. I sat down and said “No. I am having some pie.”
El glared, “Oh you sure it isn’t the bride’s pie you’d rather be eating?”
And then she grabbed her purse and headed out the door. I took a bite, took a deep breath and then put down my plate to follow after her.
I walked down the gravel parking lot and she got in our van, slammed the driver door and locked the doors. I wasn’t at the the van as she sped the van forward spraying me with gravel as she passed. She slammed on the brakes and backed up.
Opening the passenger window to yell, “Tell your whore of a friend she isn’t welcome in our home. I’m getting our daughter from the sitters. You can walk home.” And then she sped off.
Kat had come out after me and heard what El had said. Kat gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. She held my hand and said, “Martin and I are leaving town. He’s been accepted at grad school out west. Take care of yourself. Let El know I won’t be around.”
Kat and I never spoke again.
El and I established an uneasy truce that lasted for another 7 years. I could never forgive El for her behaviour that day. And really in looking back I should have used those 7 years for something better.
Oh and I was never allowed to make this pie in our home – so finding this recipe is like finding a long-lost friend. Or as close to finding a long-lost friend as I will ever get.