Peach Pie

Have you guys seen the Netflix show Chef's Table? If the answer is no, you need to fix that right now. Because it is so good. It's basically a bunch of mini-documentaries of some of the best chefs in the world and their restaurants, lives, philosophies on food, etc.

As someone who works in the food industry, I find chefs and line cooks to be fascinating. Pastry cooks and line cooks are two very different people that do two very different jobs, so their world of blistering hot kitchens and orders coming in every minute and expediting food is new and thrilling and scary. I know that the world of kitchens is completely different to what the customers experience, so I love seeing their behind-the-scenes.

The first episode I watched, I was so inspired. I won't give too much away for those who haven't seen it, but I kept thinking to myself, "Man oh man, I want to live in Italy." This may also be because I've been to Italy three times and I just love the country and I want to back again and again. 

Then I watched the second episode and thought, "I want a farm! I want to raise animals and make my own butter and grow everything!" You see where this is going. Every episode, I wanted to do what that chef did (except that weird hippy dude that lived in the middle of nowhere, I think I'd go crazy after a week). I was so inspired and motivated to do something that, honestly, I don't actually want to do (except maybe live in Italy. I might want to do that.)

In each episode, it gave some background on the chef and their childhood, their culinary training, early career, and basically the path that they've walked to get to where they are now. 

And what was great is that it wasn't all rainbows and happy customers and celebrity status. I like that they focused on how gruelling and stressful and exhausting, mentally and physically, it is to work in a kitchen. The kitchen that I work in isn't as bad as some restaurant, but a 10 hour day is normal and it's physical and there's a lot of pressure to be better, faster, more efficient, cleaner, constantly. Come October to December, we'll be working at least 12 hour days, up to 15 hours, sometimes 6 days a week in order to meet the demands for the Christmas season. Some line cooks and chefs work 15 hours every day, all year. It takes a toll. 

And what surprised me was that even these incredibly accomplished chefs were still struggling with how stressful it was, every single day. I thought it would get easier, especially if you run an acclaimed restaurant. You know you're doing a great job, you know you're doing it right. But then again, that's where the pressure comes from. You have to keep that standard up, constantly, all while creating new dishes and evolving and growing. That's the tough part. Consistency is everything in a kitchen (or any business) and it's just incredibly taxing to give 110% every single day. 

While I was daunted by the life of the line cook and the chefs who run the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in the world, I was really proud to be a part of this industry. I take pride in working hard, in waking up at 3:30am to go to work, in getting burns on my arms every week, in carrying 20 kilogram bags of flour on my shoulder up a flight of stairs, in busting my ass every day, and never being satisfied with my work, that I can always do better. 

It's stressful as hell and sometimes I think, "I just can't do this anymore, it's too much", but those moments are only moments and I keep going. Because at the end of the day, I'm proud of what I do and what I create and I'm so eager to see where my talents and passion take me in life. Who knows, maybe I'll have a documentary made about me one day. 

Peach Pie

Peach Filling

900 g ripe peaches, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
100 g sugar
5 g vanilla paste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
15 g all-purpose flour

Pie Crust
Recipe from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

350 g pastry flour
100 g all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
226 g unsalted butter, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
60 g vegetable shortening, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
114 g water, ice cold
2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Egg wash
Coarse sugar

For the pie crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in an electric mixer. Add the cold butter and shortening and mix on low speed until the mixture look shaggy and the pieces of butter are slightly smaller than peas. Stop the mixer and check the size of the butter, sifting through the mixture with your hands. If you find bigger chunks, smear them between your fingers.

Put the ice-cold water and vinegar into a measuring cup and stir to combine. Add the water-vinegar  to the flour-fat mixture on low speed and mix briefly with a few rotations of the paddle, but do not let the dough come together.

Turn off the mixture and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer to make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients. Squeeze a small amount of dough in your hand. The dough should come together in a clump. If it’s too dry, add a little more water a few teaspoons at a time. 

Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Unwrap one disk of dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8th inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie tin and gently press the dough into the sides of the pan. Trim the excess dough to a 3/4th to 1 inch overhang. Fold the overhand up and over towards the inside of the pan and use your hands to gently press on the dough all around the circumference to form a neat pastry rim about 1/2 inch thick. Create your desired border. Use the trimmed dough to create pastry leaves, feathers, or whatever decoration you wish. 

Remove the second disk of dough from the fridge 5 to 10 minutes before you begin rolling. Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness and cut strips 1 inch in width for your lattice. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Chill the dough.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

For the filling, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Pour the filling into the chilled pastry shell and arrange the lattice on top.

Brush the pastry with egg wash to coat, being careful not to drag the filling onto the pastry. Sprinkle with the desired amount of coarse sugar. Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips.

Bake the pie for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake for a further 60 to 70 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Remove the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

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