For the dough, you can use all butter and omit the lard, if desired. I learned the trick of the Almond Layer from chef Jacques Pepin; it absorbs the juice from the fruit and prevents a soggy bottom crust. You can use any tender fruit for this: nectarines, plums, apricots or cherries. Local fruit in season is best. You can peel peaches (peeling is optional but is nice) by the old-fashioned method — plunging them in boiling water for a minute or two — or buy one of the excellent serrated peelers now available including the One-Touch battery-operated device I found at Canadian Tire. This makes a large pie — enough for a crowd and ideal for a summer gathering.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
¾ cup diced cold butter
¼ cup cold lard
6 to 8 tbsp iced water
¼ cup ground almonds
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp light brown or granulated sugar
About 6 cups sliced, pitted, peeled ripe peaches (about eight)
3 tbsp light brown or organic cane sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
Glaze and garnish:
1 egg, beaten with a little milk
1 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup peach, apricot or apple jam or jelly, melted
About ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted *
For dough, combine flour and sugar in food processor. Add butter; pulse 5 to 6 times to break up butter roughly. Add lard; pulse a few times or until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add water through feeder tube until mixture begins to clump. Form dough into ball; wrap in plastic wrap and chill about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400F.
For Almond Layer, combine all ingredients in small bowl.
For Peach Filling, combine all ingredients in large bowl.
Roll out dough on floured surface to about 15 inches in diameter. Place on large round pizza or other baking pan. Spread almond mixture evenly over dough. Mound peach mixture in middle of dough leaving about 2 inches of dough around it. Fold edges of dough, pleating at intervals, on top of peaches. Brush edges of dough with egg mixture, then sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in oven about 40 minutes or until pie is burnished brown. Cool. Spread melted jam or jelly over peaches with pastry brush. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve with ice cream, thickened yogurt or crème fraiche.
Makes about 8 to 12 servings.
* To toast almonds, cook in dry skillet over low heat about 5 minutes or until golden brown.