While it is still peach season, I have been trying to share several good recipes using peaches since we all have such a great crop this year. One that popped into my memory was a Fried Peach Pie. Pie is a word whose meaning has evolved over many centuries, and which has varied to some extent according to a country or even to a region. The fried peach pies I am writing about today are not like a pie at all – they are really turnovers, a general term for a pastry made by folding a sheet of pastry over a lump of filling and sealing the edges. I found no recipe in the Fredericksburg Home Kitchen Cook Book for making these with peaches, but their last editions did have one using pineapples submitted by Mrs. Freddie Gold. Her Pineapple Turnover recipe came closest to describing the way they are made—fried! As it turns out, Fried Peach Pies are actually Peach Turnovers.
Turnovers supposedly originated in ancient times and are classified as “portable pies.” Some have traced their creation to the Cornish pasty, a savory hand pie brought to America by English settlers. Perhaps because they were portable, fried pies could be tucked into any lunch pail and carried by workers into the fields. They were very popular in the 19th century. Turnovers can also contain meats and have been called by many names. They have been known as puffs in the United States and Pasties in England, but whatever one might call them, they look like folded pastry semi-circles with crimped edges which encased some kind of filling.
Fried pies can still be found throughout the South. Thanks to their sealed crust, fried pies can last for a long time without refrigeration. All kinds of turnovers, sold as fruit pies, are still available in today’s grocery and convenience stores. Hostess, Little Debbie, and Mrs. Redd’s are just a few of the fruit pies that can be found. None, however, can compare to those baked at home.
In Texas, these turnovers are still called pies. An issue of Texas Highways, published in December 2016, credits the introduction of fried pies to Texans by the Czechs who called them kolaches. These pillowy yeast rolls were filled with fruit and have been a Texas staple for many decades. I was introduced to them while at Texas A&M. A fellow classmate from Hallettsville brought them back from his visits home.
Pie Crust Ingredients:
¼ lb. whole unsalted butter
2 ½ tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg
1 ½ cup all-purpose flou
2 tbsp ice water
Preparations for Pie Crust:
Beat butter, sugar, and salt for 3 minutes on medium speed of one’s mixer.
Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds.
Add flour and water and beat for 15 seconds.
Scrape sides of the mixer bowl and beat again for 10 seconds.
Scoop out the dough and cover in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Ingredients for Filling:
1 tbsp butter
2 cups thinly sliced or diced fresh peaches.
½ tbsp sugar
¼ cup Fischer & Wieser Old Fashioned Peach Preserves
Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a medium-sized pan.
Sauté peaches and ½ tbsp sugar until sugar is dissolved—about 2 minutes.
Add preserves and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, until peaches soften and preserves melt.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Peach Pie Preparations:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 16 x 12 inches and 1/8-inch thick.
Divide the dough into to 6 circles a little over 5 inches each in diameter.
Or simply divide the dough into 6 small balls and roll out each.
Place the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
Spread about ¼ cup of the cooled cooked peaches on half of each circle.
Fold the other half over and crimp the edges securely with using a fork.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes before frying.
Frying Peach Pies:
Pour 2 ½ inches of olive oil into a 4-qt saucepan or cast-iron skillet.
Heat oil to 350ºF.
Fry 2 or 3 pies at a time from 1 ½ to 2 minutes per batch or until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.
Keep pies warm in a 200ºF oven until all pies are fried.
Serve immediately topped with vanilla ice cream.
By Mark Wieser