I have a dream and it involves an old house in the country. It’s a big old farm house, well worn and comfy. It’s painted yellow with a big white front porch and lots of trees around it. The yard is rambling and lush with fruit trees and a bountiful garden. It’s the kind of house that has lots of room for guests in its spare but comfortable bedrooms filled with light and maybe even a screened in back porch, perfect for sleeping in on balmy summer nights. It’s hallways are decorated with frames filled with family portraits, everyone sitting on the front stairs, each year looks different as everyone gets older. What doesn’t change are the smiles, the bare feet and the sun kissed cheeks of happy people. It is the perfect house for summer entertaining. In this vision I can smell the barbecue smoke mingling with the jasmine and lilac. I can hear the clink of horseshoes being tossed, people laughing, and birdsong. There in the middle of it is a long table outside, set for what is always an epic family dinner. It’s a cook and entertainer’s dream. Mismatched chairs, laundry-line-dried linens, jars and juice glasses filled with flowers, it sits at the center of things, constant and stoic, waiting for its guests to tuck in. There’s no texting, no worry about tomorrow’s commute, nothing but relaxation and fun.
This pie fits that dream. It suits the easy mood and tastes like summer. It is not overly complicated, not cloyingly sweet, but it certainly tastes like a treat and summarizes the culinary freshness of summer. When peaches are not quite in season, or unavailable, canned will work just fine, simply drain them well so they don’t make the creamy filling too soft.
Peaches and Cream Ice Box Pie
For the crust:
preheat the oven to 375°
In a large, deep pie dish, combine:
3 C graham cracker crumbs
1/3 C softened butter or margarine
1/4 C sugar
Using your fingers, rub the crumbs and sugar into the butter until it is the texture of damp sand. Spread the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie dish, pressing to compact them and make the crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes until it has darkened, dried slightly and is fragrant. Allow to cool fully. Set aside.
For the filling:
4 C sliced peaches (fresh or canned if you want this out of season)
¼ C cold milk
¼ C hot milk
1 packet plain gelatin
2 cups whipping cream
2 C icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 Vanilla bean, scraped, pod discarded
1/2 tsp almond extract
Sprinkle the gelatin onto the cold milk and stir. Add the hot milk and stir again until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Set aside to cool. Whip the whipping cream to soft peaks, add the sugar, almond extract and vanilla. Slowly add the cooled gelatin mixture. Continue beating for 1 more minute. Scrape cream into the cooled, prepared crumb crust, smoothing the top. Arrange the peach slices on top. Chill the finished pie for at least 2 hours before serving.