By Michelle Cruz CuevasSpecial to CSMS MagazineGeorgia is known as “The Peach State,” but even native Georgians will admit that the sweetest and colorful peaches come from York County, South Carolina. The city where the peaches are located is called Clover, which is about a four drive from the capital Charleston. The peach’s summer essence ravishing red and orange is so ideal that being selective about the type seems unrealistic. And yet to us, July’s Sunhighs, Red Havens, and Georgia Belles are the most flavorful, with a flowery, rosy peachiness that we prefer to June’s understated cling varieties (better for canning and cobblers) and August’s treacly Blakes, Monores, Elbertas. The Sanders Peach Stand, in small Filbert, between Clover and York, is a frugal shed just south of the North Carolina border; it sells all those variations and plus others. Dori Sanders, who works the farm’s fifty acres with her siblings and may be the only peach farmer in the United States who has written a best selling novel about a peach farm. The Sanders keep growing out new varieties and rotating tree crops every decade. They maintain an old orchard, too, for longtime customers who prefer oldies such as Elbertas and Starlights. The stand has no refrigeration and the peaches are picked twice a day. When you arrive in the afternoon and they’ve sold out the delightful Sunhighs, most likely Dori will ask you to set a spell beneath a shade tree while she starts up the Massey-Ferguson tractor, and drives out to the farm and picks your order for you. These pies are mouthwatering little pastry coverings of inciting filling, cooked down from sodden dried peaches with just hint of spice and splash of bourbon, but not enough to obscure the ripe flavor of summer peaches. We evaporate Sanders’s July peaches ourselves, and they are wonderful, but any high-quality dried peaches from a considered market will appease.
Here is the Recipe as Follows
Makes 12 Pies; Enough for 6 peopleEstimated time 1-½ hour2 ¾ cups plus one tablespoon sifted cake flour or 2 ½ cups sifted bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces and hands1-teaspoon kosher salt4-tablespoon baking powder4-tablespoon cold lard, cut into ¼-inch dice¾ cup cold whole milk2 cups dried peaches (about 4 ½ ounces)¼ cup Tennessee Whiskey or Kentucky bourbon½ teaspoon cinnamon2 whole cloves2-½ cups peanut oil1-tablespoon confectioners sugar, for garnish
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together twice. Add the butter and lard and work the mixture with a pastry blender or your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs with pea-sized pieces scattered throughout. Add the milk and toss with a fork until the dough comes together when you pinch a small amount between your thumb and forefinger. With floured hands, knead the dough a couple of times. Roll it into 12 equal balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the peaches and 4 cups to boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low, cover , and simmer vigorously until the peaches are very soft, about 30 minutes. Strain, discard the cooking water, and return the peaches to the pan. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the brown sugar, bourbon, cinnamon, and cloves, stir and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes more, stirring every 3 minutes, until the peaches are thick as jam. Remove the cloves and discard.
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet or large platter with paper towels.
Also see Blueberry Meringue TartsEating right is all that matters, not how muchHave you tried grilled turkey burgers with avocado mayonnaise?Chipotle Grilled Chicken with Avocado SalsaNote: Michelle Cruz Cuevas is a bakery owner in the town of Beaufort, South Carolina. She wrote this piece exclusively for CSMS Magazine.