Sweet Potato says... say yes to dessert

Dessert can't be all bad if it's filled with fruit, right? Try some of these fruity treats this summer.

By Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh
Sweet Potato says... say yes to dessert

photo: Maya Visnyei

Do you have a dessert rule in your house? I wish I could tell you we do. Well, we have and I do believe in some dessert restrictions (particularly for my son who has been found drinking from a bottle of maple syrup, such is his love of sweet). Did you know that Michelle Obama only lets Sasha and Malia have desserts once a week? With a role model like that, I tried it myself but it’s a hard road to keep on.

My kids start asking about dessert before they’ve lifted a fork in the direction of a piece of broccoli. And then the bartering begins. “How many bites until I can have dessert?” Which is more than a little heart-breaking after you’ve put time and love into a well-balanced dinner. And while parenting and nutrition experts say they don’t advise using dessert as a reward for eating dinner, I don’t know a single, live, actual parent who hasn’t used this little motivator. Which is why summer’s fruit-filled desserts come as such a sweet relief. Yes, of course pie is still pie and therefore a treat but I do feel more relaxed about it since it’s also a serving of fruit. And if you scale back the sugar on a traditional recipe, it can be mostly fruit.

These are the things I tell myself when I go into the ditch on my once-a-week dessert plans in favour of a few fruit-filled delights. Now, how I’m going to get this car back on the road come fall is another story… Until then, another piece of peach pie? Don’t mind if I do.

Are there two better words in English than peach pie? I don’t think so. The lattice top on this pie is impressive but it’s just as delicious if you decide to make life simpler with a full crust on top. Just score a few holes in the middle if you do. 

?Peach Pie

Spelt Pie Dough
1 1/3 cups spelt flour
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
1/2 cup ice water

Pie Filling
4 lbs peaches (about 12 peaches)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg

1. To make the pie dough, sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into small 1/4 inch pieces and toss them into the flour mixture. Add the shortening to the flour as well. Using your fingers, rub and pinch the butter and shortening, breaking them into pea size pieces. Keep tossing the flour around as you do it so each piece of butter and shortening gets coated. Work quickly so that the butter and shortening don’t get too warm and soft.

2. Add the 1/4 cup of ice water to the flour and butter combo. Use your hands to bring the dough together. If it’s too dry to come together, add more ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time.

3. Sprinkle your work surface with a bit of flour. Pinch off about 2 Tbsp’s of dough at a time, put that piece on your floured work surface and push the heel of your hand on and it push it away from yourself. This fancy technique is called fraisage and you’re flattening and smearing the butter pieces within the dough creating a flaky crumb for your eventual crust. Keep working until you’ve fraisaged every bit of the dough. Put it all back together into two equal balls. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 3 days.

4. To make the filling you can start by blanching the peaches. With a small knife, make an X a the end (not the stem end) of each peach. Put a big pot of water on to boil. Pop 3 or 4 peaches in the boiling water at a time for about 15 seconds. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a colander in the sink. Keep blanching until you’ve done all of your peaches. The skins will be very easy to slip off because of the X but you can use a small knife to pull away any skin that doesn’t come away with a gentle tug.

5. Take the dough out of the fridge and place it on the counter so it has a chance to warm up and become pliable.

6. Now pit and slice your peaches into 1/2 inch pieces. Place all of your peach pieces into a generous bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over the fruit and stir it together gently. Let that sit on the counter for an hour, giving it a little stir every once in awhile. Strain the fruit with a sieve over another bowl. Reserve a cup of the liquid in a small bowl. Put your peaches back into the bigger bowl. Whisk cornstarch, nutmeg and the fruit liquid in the small bowl. Stir that liquid into the fruit.

7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

8. Roll out one of your balls of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 13 to 14 inch round. Roll it over your rolling pin and gently transfer to your baking pan. Don’t worry if the edges are torn or uneven. Gently press the dough into the pan, making sure its snug into the edges. Leave about an inch of over hang.

9. Roll out your second ball of dough into a 14 inch round. Cut the dough into 3/4 inch wide strips. You want at least ten of them.

10. Pour the fruit mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Place half of your strips in parallel rows across the pie, spacing evenly. Fold every other strip back on itself to just beyond the midway point of the pie. Lay one long strip of dough over the middle of the pie perpendicular (the other direction!) to the rest. Lift your folded ends up and unfold them back into position. Now take the strips that are under the perpendicular/cross strip and fold them back on themselves. Place another strip parallel to your first perpendicular strip and lay it across the pie, leaving a little space between them. Unfold the folded back strips. Fold back the first strips again and place a third perpendicular strip across the pie. Unfold those strips. Now turn the pie around and work back in the same way on the other side. Trim excess and pinch together the lattice edges with the over hang of the bottom crust.

11. Beat an egg and brush the egg over the pie. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of sugar over the top. Place the pie on a baking sheet and pop it in the hot oven. Bake for 40 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for about another 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Allow to cool really well before slicing in!

Want some more fruit-filled recipes? More recipes from

are the ultimate summer treat and this one is lighter and less sweet than a traditional recipe. Plus, hello, peach and blueberry? Best combo ever.

This Crostata is an absolute show-stopper if you’ve got company but the real jazz-hands of it is how easily it comes together. By far the easiest pie in the world to make.

This article was originally published on Jul 13, 2012

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