Pie

The Hesser Family Peach Pie That's Stood the Test of Time (& Tweaks)

August  1, 2016

​When a recipe has stood the test of time, it can stand the test of your kitchen, too.

Rhonda35's Third Generation Peach Pie started with her grandmother, who taught her how to make it on summer visits; they'd start by picking the peaches (and finish, presumably, with big slices).

But what Rhonda really picked up from her now 99-year-old grandmother—and her Depression-era make-do attitude—is that experimenting and tweaking are good. And experiment and tweak the next generations did. (Crazy kids!)

​When Rhonda had only enough pie pastry in the freezer for a bottom crust, she abandoned the top layer of her grandmother's and mother's versions for a crumb topping. She also chose tapioca starch as a thickener in place of her mom's flour and added some salt, too.

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Top Comment:
“Can't wait to try this riff on peach pie. I tried to make a classic one this weekend for my family but my peaches were all mushy and flavorless. I'm going to try again this week and will definitely try this recipe (with tweaks) ”
— Rachel
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The crumb top, developed from fusing techniques from various recipes, gets added about halfway through the baking process, which means that it doesn't sink into the creamy peach filling but rather remains a cookie-like entity.

And while the pie is a family favorite throughout the extended branches, not everyone makes it the same way. When I informed Amanda Hesser—she's Rhonda35's sister—that we were photographing the pie at the office, she told me that she sticks with the double-crust made with shortening.

But we went rogue and used a butter and cream cheese pie dough, figuring that with all its longevity and flexibility, this pie could take our silly riffs.

You try, too: You'll have a hard time messing this one up.

Now it's your turn to make the pie your own, and we've got a few suggestions:

  • Rhonda says you can substitute the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt, compensating for its tang with an extra tablespoon of sugar. (We'd guess you could also experiment with crème fraîche or mascarpone. For a guide for swapping in dairy products, look here.)
  • Instead of nutmeg and cinnamon, Rhonda uses the same amount of Chinese five-spice powder. Work with finely chopped rosemary, allspice, cardamom, orange blossom water...
  • Almonds or pistachios or hazelnuts instead of pecans.
  • Chopped crystallized ginger in the crumb. Or coconut flakes?
  • Breadcrumbs instead of oats. Truly wacky!

More inspiration:

  • Add apricot and vanilla bean:
  • Or strawberries and lemon juice:
  • Go herby and fragrant with tarragon and nutmeg or thyme and honey:
  • Or nutty and boozy with almond extract and bourbon:
  • Bolster the peaches with blueberries:

What's your favorite variation on peach pie? Tell us in the comments!

4 Comments

Theresa August 16, 2017
Brilliant! Both the salt and sugar version. I am thinking these fruit salts or sugars could be added to a sweet or salty dukkah type condiment. Can't wait to experiment.
 
Rhonda35 August 1, 2016
Thanks for reminding me about my own recipe, Sarah! And just in time: it's officially Palisade peach season in Colorado and I will be whipping up this pie in the very near future.
 
Rachel August 1, 2016
Looks lovely. Can't wait to try this riff on peach pie. I tried to make a classic one this weekend for my family but my peaches were all mushy and flavorless. I'm going to try again this week and will definitely try this recipe (with tweaks)
 
Rhonda35 August 1, 2016
I hope you like it, Rachel!