Lela’s Fried Peach Pies
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These are my great grandmother’s pies. Lela loved to make fried pies and the only kind we ever remember her making was peach. Mama loved her peach pies and ate them all the time growing up but one day asked her to make her apple instead of her customary flavor. So Lela got all of the ingredients and made a plate full of apple pies just for Mama. She took one bite and realized, unless they were peach, they just weren’t her her granny’s.
I remember Lela standing in the kitchen humming as she fried these, placing the crispy treats on a Corelle plate next to the stove as she dipped more into the hot oil in her cast iron skillet. The entire house seemed to smell of peaches, an especially welcome treat in the middle of the winter!
There are many ways to make fried pies nowadays and many shortcuts, but the traditional southern fried pie requires dried fruit and handmade dough, usually a form of biscuit dough rather than real pie pastry. Today I’m bringing you the traditional method, which is pretty easy. Hang on though because I also plan on bringing you two more methods pretty soon as well. They are a bit more newfangled, a bit different in taste and texture, but every bit as good.
Until then, if you’re yearning for an old fashioned fried pie like Granny used to make, you’ve come to the right place.
Before we get started with the recipe, here is my segment where I got to make these with Al Roker on the Today Show – that was Fun!
You’ll need: Cooking oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, bit of margarine, sugar, and some dried fruit. This is for the filling.
For the dough you’ll need flour, shortening, salt, and a bit of milk.
I didn’t picture the milk so we’re gonna have to use our imaginations here. Mooooo!
This is my little salt crock. It was made by Fire King and was originally used as a grease jar. Although these pieces of depression glassware were made very well, I couldn’t bring myself to chance putting hot grease in something so dear so I use it for a salt crock. It sits happily on my stove and I have salt at hand in a convenient form (no shaking it out!) anytime I need it.
Lets talk dried fruit.
Drying fruit was one of the least expensive methods of fruit preservation available to folks back in the day (still is, actually). Apples, peaches, apricots, and other fruits could be dried in the sun and put up, then reconstituted into delicious fried pies, sauces, and baked goods which were a welcome delicacy in the hard winter months.
There were all sorts of improvised ways of drying fruit. Some folks even dried fruit on their shingles! The hot rooftop and stiff breeze provided excellent conditions. They’d lay out the fruit on a piece of cloth or screen and cover with cheesecloth or another screen to keep the flies out. My great grandmother dried her fruit on sheets of tin with the pieces covered in cheesecloth. Later on in her older years, when life was easier, she just took to buying her fruit from the grocer’s in bags such as these. I asked Mama how they kept the ants off of it and she says she thinks the tin just got too hot for them. Hmm, that makes sense.
You can use this recipe with any number of dried fruits. Peaches, apples, and apricots are the most common.
To begin with, place your dried fruit in a pot and cover with two cups of water. Bring to a boil.
This bag was only six ounces of dried fruit but resist the urge to buy more because it will really go far!
I made ten pies out of this and ended up with about a cup of fruit leftover.
If you are using apples, you may find that your fruit needs about 1/2 cup more of water. There seem to be a lot more apples in that bag than there are peaches!
Bring that to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until they are tender and soft. This will take about twenty minutes. To test, moosh one with a fork and see if it is able to mash up a bit, like a cooked potato. If so, you’re ready.
Apples will be a bit firmer than peaches but that’s okay.
Turn off the heat and add margarine…
Add sugar and cinnamon
and a weeeee little bit of lemon juice.
Of course, if you are taking a picture and trying to get a shot of the juice actually pouring in you will most likely mess this part up and add two or three times the required amount but then you can just get a spoon dip out some of the excess really quickly.
It’ll still be fine.
Not that I’d ever do anything like that, you know. ~looks innocent~
Use a potato masher or a fork and moosh all of that up together.
This is the consistency you’re going for. Aren’t pictures great?
This is kind of lumpy and saucy and it smells like my great grandmother is in the kitchen.
~looks over her shoulder and smiles at Lela~ She’s wearing a blue house dress with a tiny flower print on it and she’s sitting with her left arm propped up on the table. Her face is set in that naturally pleasant expression she always had, the one that makes her look like she is about to think of something funny. Inside the right pocket of her house dress is a perfectly folded kleenex. I think she’s waiting for me to finish the pies so she can have one. It’s been almost eighteen years since she passed away but these pies sure do bring her back.
Now we make our dough…
You can do this while your fruit cooks or let your fruit set aside a bit after you are done with it and make your dough then.
Place your flour in a bowl and add your salt.
Stir that up a bit.
Add shortening to the flour and cut it in..
You just keep pressing down over and over with your fork and stirring it a bit and eventually it will all get incorporated together.
You can use a fancy pastry cutter for this but I prefer a good old fashioned long tined fork. No sense in complicating things.
It is going to look like this. All of the recipes I have ever seen where they have you cutting shortening into flour tells you to do it until it looks like peas. That is the silliest thing I have ever heard. Does this look like peas to you? Even squinting my eyes and cocking my head, this looks nothing like peas in any way, shape, or form.
So just cut it in until it looks like this and we’ll be done with the whole “peas” reference once and for all.
Unless, of course, we make peas – which I dearly love.
Now add in a little milk.
Y’all know the recipe is at the bottom of this post, right?
Stir that up a bit until it forms a dough like this. If you need to, you can add a bit more milk but I would only add a teaspoon at a time, stirring it up after to see if that is enough.
Dump that out onto a greased or floured surface and press it together to form a ball of dough.
Divide that into ten balls of dough.
Place a ball on a floured surface. I use waxed paper for this because it just makes cleanup so easy.
Roll or pat that out into a five to six inch circle.
If you want to be precise, you can lay a saucer upside down on it and cut around the edges to make a perfect circle.
Fortunately for me, I’ve never really had the urge to be precise…
Place about two tablespoons of filling in the center of each crust.
Dip the tips of your fingers in water and run them around the outer edges so they’ll stick together when you fold it over.
You can use a pastry brush for this if you like but your granny would shake her head at you.
Food tastes better if you touch on it a bit, transfers more love that way.
Fold your pie over and press lightly around the edges to seal.
It will look something like this.
My others weren’t as messy but this was the one I took pictures of. I think messy tastes better anyway.
Pour about an inch of oil into a medium to large sized skillet and allow to get hot.
I put my oil on medium high heat while I am rolling out my dough and then reduce the heat to medium when I actually cook the pies.
I’m using a cast iron skillet, but you can use a regular one if you prefer. There is a great tutorial on how to season a cast iron skillet on Southern Plate, you can read it by clicking here.
Place pies in hot oil and cook until brown on both sides, turning once or twice to cook them evenly.
Place on paper towel lined plate…
Smile, Lela is watching!
I just called my grandmother (Lela’s daughter) and said “Grandmama, I just made fried peach pies and they tasted just like Lela’s!” She said “Well now you’re getting good at cooking, aren’t you?”
~snickers~ Well I should hope so…
Your attitude can make your life bitter, or better
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My Tweets Got Blogged About!
We recently took a weekend trip to GA and my husband decided to try out this new navigational app for the iPhone. I had fun tweeting about it and picked up quite a few followers in the process! Much to my surprise, my tweets have also been blogged about! Read here!
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