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Bourbon Palisade Peach Pie

Before my adventure to Rocky National Park last Saturday, I paid the Farmer's Market in downtown Boulder a little visit. Usually when I meander at one of these things, I am aimlessly wandering, poking around at the odds and ends, the sunflowers, the beautiful stacks of beets and radishes. But on Saturday, my visit was not aimless; I was on a mission: 4 pounds of Palisade peaches, just enough for a late summer peach pie. In the previous weeks, peaches were not hard to find at the market. Boxes upon boxes of these beautiful, round, perfectly ripe peaches sat atop one another, practically begging to be in a pie. But last week, Palisade peaches were only at one stand -- and only three bags left when I approached the counter. Approached might be too gentle of a verb to describe my pushing, shoving, squeezing through shoulders: No one will take those peaches. And no one did.

"These are the very last peaches of the season," the woman told me, eyeing me a bit carefully, as if she were handing over a collection of precious belongings.

"I'm making a pie," I assured her. She then exclaimed something excited and lovely, like "Wonderful!" or "Excellent!" but I can't quite remember. I paid and strolled away, proudly, with the three very last bags of Palisade peaches. What a wonderful day it would be, what a delicious pie it would be.

There is nothing that quite compares to a simple peach pie: just a bit of sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon and vanilla -- but the last-peaches-of-the-season occasion called for something a bit more interesting. And what better way to make a pie interesting than to add a shot (or two) of bourbon?

No better way. That is the answer.

You'll be surprised how much of a difference one tablespoon of bourbon makes in a peach pie. It's sweeter, fuller... it is, if you ask me, the perfect farewell to summer and hello to fall in one dessert: the warmth and comfort of a fall pie, the brightness and sweetness of a summer pie -- all combined into one delicious, beautiful, LAST OF THE SEASON Palisade bourbon peach pie.

The recipe is slightly adapted from Saveur's summer peach pie; the filling is the same, but the crust is one that combines shortening and butter instead of an all-butter crust. Both will be delicious.

Bourbon Peach Pie

Yields one double-crust 9-inch pie

For the dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-vegetable shortening

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup ice-cold water (you won't need all of it)

For the Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp. bourbon

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 lbs peeled & pitted peaches, cut into thin wedges

1 large egg, beaten

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar)

Make the crust: Fill a measuring cup with 1/2 cup water. Plop a few ice cubes in the water and place measuring cup in the freezer while you make the dough.

Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut your shortening and butter into 1/2 or 1 tbsp. sized cubes, and toss them into the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, pick up fingerfuls of fat and flour, and press together the fat, dropping it back into the bowl. Continue until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with a few larger pieces strewn throughout.

Grab the measuring cup from the freezer, and pour a thin, steady stream of water into the fat and flour for about 4 seconds. Using the same technique as before, toss the fat and flour together. The mixture should feel tacky and slightly damp, with a few coarse crumbs still there. Grab a handful of dough, form it into a ball and toss it into the air, letting it land back in your palm. If the dough holds its shape in your hand, it is done. If not, continue adding water by the teaspoon. (Shortening is so soft and easier to manage compared to butter; you should not need more than 1/4 cup of water.)

Divide the dough roughly in half, form each half into a ball, and shape each ball into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap, and roll the wrapped dough along its side like a wheel to make a perfect circle. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour. 2 hours is better. 4 hours is fantastic. 8 hours... you've outdone yourself. This is always preferred.

Assembling the Pie: After the dough has chilled, grab one of the balls from the fridge. If it has been chilling for more than 2 hours, let rest on the counter for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle. Fold the dough in half, then in quarters, and place in pie plate. Unfold, trim overhang and brush the bottom of the crust with the lightly beaten egg white. Place in the fridge while you make the filling.

Making the Filling: In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, bourbon, vanilla, salt and cinnamon until combined. Add peaches, and toss until they are evenly coated. Retreive the bottom crust from the fridge and spoon the filling into the crust. Refrigerate again while you roll out the top crust.

Roll the top crust on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle, and cut strips to form a lattice, braid some strips, cut out shapes... do whatever your pie-loving heart desires, as long as the top crust has some sort of vent to allow steam to escape. Place the top crust on top of the filling, crimp or twist the edges, and brush the top and edges with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the crust is a lovely golden brown and the filling is bubbling in the center.

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