This pie is a balance of spice, warmth and sugar, a bridge between the sweet fruits of summer and the exotic, fragrant flavors of winter– the perfect September pie.
I tried out my first attempt at this ginger-peach vision with my friend. We used powdered ginger and powdered cloves but peaches seemed to drink up the ginger and you could barely taste it. Faced with this conundrum (uh, powdered ginger is pretty strong), I puzzled over trying shredded ginger root or crystallized ginger. I only have one fully functional hand at the moment, so shredding ginger seemed annoying to say the least. That minor convenience is the only reason I tossed the sparkly, chewy candied ginger into my cart.
I did not go into this experiment with full confidence. I envisioned the crystallized ginger turning to tooth-chipping rocks in the oven, nested in the peaches for unsuspecting pie chewers (like my friends and myself) to crack their molars on.
But, I thought, maybe-just-maybe, the crystallized ginger would lend its magic to the flavor I was after and melt seamlessly into the fruit. And it did! The starfruit mellows and cuts the sweetness of the peaches but the true star of this pie is that ginger candy.
The crust is an adaptation of William-Sonoma’s basic pie dough. My version came out a little flakier than their all-butter version. Also, mine has slightly less flour and a bit of cinnamon. —Vermont Kitchen
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil a pot of water. Once water is boiling add the peaches. Let them cook for 5 - 10 minutes. Then pour them into a colander and douse with ideally, an ice bath or less ideally, cold water from tap. The hot-cold shock makes the peach skins peel right off. Yes, you CAN keep white peach skins on for the pie but it tastes better to take them off. After peeling off the skin (or as much of it as you can), cut into slices. Don’t worry if they are mushy or a bit damaged from cooking. Put slices of peach in a medium bowl and add sugar, tapioca, vanilla extract and salt.
Crystallized ginger usually comes in chunks or cubes. Thinly slice each cube into ginger “flakes.” They don’t have to be too thin and they can be irregularly shaped since they kind of melt into the pie. This slicing up is a little tedious but trust me, it’s worth it. Add the sliced up crystallized ginger to the bowl with peaches.
Measure out the water and place in freezer to chill.
Combine flour, cinnamon, sugar and salt together. Mix. Add cubed butter and shortening. Cut the butter into dough using hands or a pastry cutter. When its incorporated there should be some visible chunks of butter and the texture should be like course cornmeal.
Check the water. It should be a little icy on edges. If its not, put the dough in the fridge while you wait for it to get colder. Once its icy, add the water to the dough and knead it so it starts to pull together. It’s almost magical because the dough goes from grainy and not-dough, to a bonafide pie dough.
If for some reason it seems dry after all the water is incorporated and is not coming together cohesively, you may add more water, by the teaspoon. It can be from the tap as long as the tap runs cold. If your tap runs hot, you could quickly chill a teaspoon of water with an ice cube. Generally 6 tablespoons works for me, but if you miscount or if your flour measurement is not precise (hey, sometimes we are pie making in a rush!) it can throw off this ratio. You will know if you need more water since the dough will NOT come together.
Split the dough into two balls, one is bottom crust and one is top crust. Roll out each on a clean, dry surface with ample flour.
Arrange bottom crust of dough on a standard 9′ round glass pie plate. Spoon peach-ginger mixture into pie and top with the starfruit slices. Cover with lattice or shaped cut-outs of dough. Cover the rim of the pie with foil. You may add an egg wash (Whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt and brush the top crust) with turbinado sugar on top if you like. Bake for approximately 45 minutes (removing the foil on pie rim after about 30 min) or until the pie filling bubbles and the crust is slightly browned. Because of the cinnamon, this crust has a nice hue to it, but to get an even more golden top, broil the pie at the end of its baking cycle on high for about 1 - 3 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler.
Serve hot or cold with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or solo.