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The first official day of summer is this Thursday, heralding the test kitchen’s favorite time of year: stone fruit season. Food director Sarah Carey’s top three: peaches, cherries, and apricots. She’s baked them every which way over the years, with standouts including Peach-Blueberry Cobbler, Peach-Raspberry Slab Pie, Sour Cherry-Pistachio Crisp, and Apricot-Strawberry Galette. Suffice to say she knows her way around a summer fruit dessert! The latest darling in Sarah’s repertoire is this peach potpie developed by assistant food editor Lindsay Strand. “It's super simple because it calls for using store-bought puff pastry instead of making a crust,” says Sarah. “The filling goes into the oven before the crust is added, so everything is perfectly baked. It’s delicious and easy, and that’s what you want in the summer."
The potpie is just the thing for anyone intimidated by making pâte brisée. All you need to do is roll out the pastry, score with a lattice pattern (no weaving here!), and sprinkle with sanding sugar. The result is a beautiful, burnished crust that evokes the caramelized topping of crème brûlée. “It’s really fun to crack through that crisp, flaky top,” says Lindsay. Amped up with bourbon, brown sugar, and vanilla, the peach filling is no slouch either. Lindsay prefers yellow peaches for their pretty color and intense flavor; plus, they hold up better in the oven than the more delicate white variety.
Lindsay also tested the recipe with frozen peaches, so if you can’t find good fresh ones or want to make the potpie out of season, head to the freezer aisle. Just be sure to thaw and drain before baking. You can also try the recipe with other summer fruit. Simply adjust the amount of cornstarch and sugar according to the juiciness and sweetness of the fruit (berries will require more cornstarch), then bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is puffed and brown. Whichever fruit you choose, don’t forget the vanilla ice cream! As Lindsay says, “Anything à la mode is a hit in the summer.”
Sarah's advice is to start with the best peaches you can find. She usually gets her stone fruit at the farmers’ market, “which can be very expensive, so you want it to be worth it. And it will be if you use your senses when buying.” First, choose peaches with a fragrant aroma and flesh that yields a bit when pressed gently. If the fruit is rock-hard, doesn’t have a scent, or smells off, it’s not going to be delicious, and neither is whatever you’re baking. Don’t buy anything that has cuts or tan spots.
Next, think ahead. Stone fruit like peaches, apricots, and plums continue ripening at room temperature, so you want to look for ones that were picked ripe but are still firm. That way they can sit on the kitchen counter for a day or two until you're ready to use (don’t refrigerate, as that’ll stop the ripening process). If you buy the fruit too ripe, it’ll be super bruised by the time you get home and start to rot. Lastly, peach season is fleeting, so don't dally! Once you've eaten your fill of the fruit out of hand, you're going to want to make this exquisite low-effort dessert all summer long.