Just when my pie obsession was dying down, my friend came over with a jar of peaches. Clearly, more pie had to be made.
Funnily enough, I consider myself a baker (over a cook), but I am not a pie maker. I’ve made maybe three pies in my life and frankly the process doesn’t hold wild appeal to me—I’m not big on butter-greasy fingers or the waiting (so much waiting!) or rolling out dough. But during our stay in LA (where Erik and I and my favorite horde of cousins ate enormous pancakes, hiked in Malibu, visited the Getty and bummed around the beach), I developed a huge crush on the Angelica Kitchen cookbook.
My aunt, who recently went vegan-before-six, made several recipes from the organic vegan NYC-based restaurant that I went crazy for. Like, I was dying over carrot salad. And BBQ tempeh. And cashew pineapple coleslaw.
But back to pie: when peaches and a friend appeared in my kitchen, I was itching to try the book’s recipe for vegan pie crust–no butter-kneading or waiting necessary!
Although there were some nail-biting moments, it ultimately turned out a fabulously wheaty, not very sweet thick-crusted pie that was the perfect foil to an intensely sweet peach filling. Although Karen and I noted that we could detect the olive oil in the crust in the beginning, the flavor disappears under the peach filling and the more it cools, the fainter the aroma becomes. It’s not a traditional smooth-crusted, golden flaky pie crust, but it feels like a sincere, nicely rustic substantial pie that has character and rough edges and heft and just enough sweetness.
(psst. This is Karen. Isn’t she cute?!)
A few notes on this recipe:
- Olive oil: If you have some really authentic, deliciously grassy or fruity strong-tasting olive oil, this is not the time to use it. Use the most neutral-tasting olive oil you can find. Most of the flavor bakes out in the oven, but I was quite worried after tasting the raw dough.*
- Baking powder: The book notes that while baking powder is not a typical ingredient in pie crust, it’s essential to keep the crust flaky and tender.
- Mixing: For a flaky crust, it’s also important to not over-mix the dough. Be very spare in your mixing (but get everything evenly incorporated).
- Peach volume: We used a 32 oz. jar of peaches. Most store-bought canned peaches come in 29 oz. jars, which could work—you’ll just have less filling. I actually think this pie could have stood to have more filling, so I would recommend using one and a half cans of peaches if you go store-bought.
- Glazing the crust: For that nice shiny, sugar-crusted crust, the book used a barley malt/water mixture. I found this article really helpful for tips on other finishing touches, particularly if you are not vegan.
And lastly, I was tempted to just dump the peaches in the crust without bothering with the whole peach juice syrup-making process, but clearly I am a pie noob. This article convinced me otherwise. So fascinating. Did you know that a double crust pie needs more thickener than an open-faced pie? Or that you can use flour, cornstarch, tapioca, or PFE to thicken fruit pies?
Considering the runniness of some fruit fillings versus the perfectly gelled (but not too gelled!) of others was news to me. Essentially, the article says you should always follow a recipe as written when making a fruit pie (as long as you trust the source!). Hopefully, the recipe writer will have already found the optimal way to thicken the fruit filling.
While I can assure you that I’m no pie expert, I can assure you that this pie recipe does indeed work—and it’s, well, worth making. (!!!)
* I would not, however, substitute canola or vegetable oil after recently reading this article. Essentially, those oils are some of the most chemically altered foods in our diet! Save the pies!
Vegan Peach Pie
- For the crust:
- 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup oat flour or same amount of all-purpose flour
- ½ cup buckwheat flour or same amount of all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- scant ½ teaspoon salt or ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ½ cup ice-cold water
- For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 32 oz. canned peaches**
- 1 cup juice from the canned peaches
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- Almond milk cream, or egg for finishing
- Turbinado sugar
- 10 ” pie plate or tart pan
- Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the olive oil and stir until just combined. Add the water and stir just until a dough forms. If the dough is still stiff and shaggy, add more water a tablespoon at a time until it comes together.
- Form the dough into two equal balls. Place one ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper and roll out until it’s large enough to fit a 10” pie plate or tart pan. Trim the edges and reserve for making cookies later. Mine was on the thicker side—maybe between 1/4” and 1/2” thick. Place dough into pan and lightly press all over until it fits snugly.
- Drain the juice from the canned peaches into a measuring cup. If you don’t have 1 cup of liquid, then add enough water to make a full cup. Roughly chop the peaches into bite-sized pieces.
- In a large saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in the peach liquid, and the lemon juice. Whisk to dissolve the cornstarch. Heat the mixture over a medium high flame, stirring very frequently—constantly if you have the patience. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for at least a minute, or until the mixture is very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the canned peaches.
- While peach filling cools, roll out the remaining ball of dough until it’s about the same thickness as the bottom crust and large enough to cover the top of the pie—this is your top crust. Pour the peach filling into the crust-lined pan, then top with the top crust. Fold over the edges and crimp it pretty, if you like.
- Brush the crust with a light coating of almond milk using a pastry brush (or your fingers if you don’t own a brush…ahem) and sprinkle an additional tablespoon or so of turbinado sugar over the top. Secret: I had a leftover part of a whisked egg and just used that as the finishing liquid. You could use nothing at all and just sprinkle sugar.
- Bake at 325 for about 40 minutes, or until crust is browned. (At this point, feel free to stamp out shapes from the reserved pie dough, sprinkle with sugar, and stick them in the oven on a separate cookie sheet to bake until golden.)