A Convict’s Peach Pie Recipe

From Joyce Maynard’s Labor Day (see review in No Charge Bookbunch)…

Frank, the escaped convict, teaches his captives – Adele and her son, Henry, how to make a peach pie in Maynard’s novel – Labor Day.   Henry grows up to be a pastry chef.

In addition to his homespun tales of his grandmother, 3 cups of flour, a little salt, lard, butter, and ice water, Frank’s secret ingredient is Minute tapioca scattered over the crust before adding the filling –

“just so it looks like salt on a road in winter, when there’s ice – and you’ve seen your last soggy crust.  This stuff soaks up the juices for you, without that cornstarch flavor.”

I decided to give the secret ingredient a try with a pie recipe from Grandmom’s secret stash and Frank’s simple rules and ingredients…

Never overhandle the dough; as little (ice) water as you can get away with; keep all ingredients cold

Grandmom’s Crisco Single Pie Crust (double for 2 crusts):

1 ½ cups sifted flour; ½ tsp salt; 1/4 cup Crisco; 1/4 cup butter; 3tbs cold water

Sift flour before measuring.  Spoon lightly into remaining cup and level without shaking or packing down.  Combine flour and salt into mixing bowl.

With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in Crisco and butter; mixture should be coarse. Sprinkle with water one tablespoon at a time; toss with fork. Work dough into firm ball with your hands.  Press dough into flat circle with smooth edges.  On lightly floured surface, roll dough to a circle about 1 ½ inches.

Frank’s Peach Filling:

  • 3 lb. peaches
  • 1/3 cup  sugar (or less, if peaches are sweet)
  • 1 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca

Add sugar to peeled and sliced peaches.  Sprinkle tapioca on bottom crust. Add filling.  Cover with top crust, cutting slits for steam and crimping edges.  Put pie plate on cookie sheet to catch drips.  Bake in 350 degree oven for about one hour.  Cool before serving.

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