Bourbon Peach Pie with Vanilla Bean Gelato


A la Mode

Published by St. Martin's Griffin

How do we make a peach pie more Southern? We add bourbon! And make it good bourbon. Don’t use the $75 stuff but instead a decent bottle of aged-in-wood, molasses-scented spirit. Peach pie deserves it. And so does this vanilla gelato. It’s ridiculously luxurious, thanks to its nine egg yolks. Listen, we need a pie topper that can stand up to the bourbon.
Our pie is very juicy. Choose firm, sweet-smelling peaches. Stir the filling as little as possible to keep the fruit from breaking down. Even so, depending on the moisture content of the peaches, the filling may drip over the crust into the oven. If you’re worried, put a rack at the lowest level under the pie, then lay a large sheet of aluminum foil on that rack to save on cleanup. However, the extra insulation may slow down the baking enough that you’ll need to add 5 or 10 minutes, which means the top crust may begin to burn slightly at the edges. If so, lay strips of aluminum foil around the rim of the pie as it finishes baking. Or throw caution to the wind and plan on cleaning up the oven if the peaches were too soft.

This is our bulked-up version of vanilla gelato. Although we don’t often do so, we divided the sugar so that only ½ cup gets beaten in with the egg yolks. We discovered that too much sugar weighed down the yolks; we had a hard time getting the mixture to the ribbon stage. In the end, it’s all about texture: velvety and smooth.

Recipe CourseDessert

EquipmentIce Cream Maker

Type of DishPie


  • For the Crust:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) solid vegetable shortening
  • At least 5 tablespoons very cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • For the Filling:
  • 6 cups thinly sliced, pitted, and peeled, ripe but not squishy peaches (7 to 8 medium peaches)
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the Gelato:
  • 2 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


To Make the Crust

  1. Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl, then cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture resembles coarsely ground, dry (but white) cornmeal.

  2. Stir 5 tablespoons of cold water and the vinegar in a small bowl or cup, then add to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until a soft but coherent dough forms, stirring in more cold water in 1-teaspoon increments as needed. Divide the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other (about a 60/40 split).

  3. Dust the larger ball with flour and roll it into an 11-inch circle. Center and set the crust into a 9-inch pie plate; do not trim the excess. Lay clean kitchen towels over both the crust in the pie plate and the smaller dough ball.

For the Filling

  1. Gently stir the peaches, brown sugar, bourbon, granulated white sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, cinnamon, and salt in a clean large bowl until blended. Set aside, undisturbed, for 10 minutes. Pour and scrape into the prepared crust.

  2. Roll the smaller ball of dough into a 10-inch circle, using the same technique as in step 3. Center and set it on top of the pie. Now trim any excess crust and crimp the crusts together around the perimeter so no filling can leak out. If desired, flute or decorate the sealed edge. Make 4 slits in the top crust to release steam as the filling cooks.

  3. Bake until the filling is bubbling through the slits and the crust is lightly browned, about 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack at room temperature for at least 1 hour or to room temperature. Slice into wedges to serve. Store tightly covered with plastic wrap on the counter for 1 day or in the refrigerator for 3 days.

  4. Pro Tip: Buy freestone peaches, not cling.

To Make the Gelato

  1. Stir the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and ½ cup of the sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Warm, undisturbed, until small bubbles fizz around the inside
    perimeter of the pan. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Fish out the vanilla bean, set it on a cutting board, and run a small paring knife along the cut surface to extract the tiny, black seeds. Reserve the pod (see Pro Tip) and stir the scraped-out seeds back into the milk mixture. Set over low heat and warm again until those bubbles fizz around the interior perimeter.

  3. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, salt, and the remaining ½ cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until quite thick and pale yellow, until wide ribbons fall off the turned-off beaters, about 5 minutes.

  4. Beat about half the hot milk mixture at medium speed into the egg yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream, then beat this combined mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in the pan. Set the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon and the temperature registers 170°F, 5 to 9 minutes.

  5. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days, covering once the custard is cold.

  6. To freeze it: Prepare an ice-cream machine. Stir the cold custard, then freeze it in the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until you can scoop up a small mound with edges that do not instantly start to melt. Store in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

  7. A la mode it: To send the proper shudders down your spine, either the pie should be warm or the gelato should be fresh from the machine. If you’ve made both the pie and the gelato earlier in the day, set the whole pie, uncovered, in a 250°F oven for 10 minutes, just to warm it up.

  8. Pro tip: Dry the scraped-out vanilla bean pod halves at room temperature for a day, then bury them in 3 cups white granulated sugar in a sealed glass jar. Set in a cool, dark pantry for about 1 month. Remove the pod halves and you’ve got vanilla sugar, great in cookies or on oatmeal.


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