Middle school is quite possibly the most awkward time in any young girl’s life, mine included. Home was like my oasis during those years; a place where I could escape to my room, the garden, or a book, not worrying about being cool, just being a girl.
For a couple of years in Middle School, we lived in a small bungalow in Pasadena with a mini orchard in the back yard and just about every vegetable known to man growing in the garden. (At least it felt that grand at the time) I’ll never forget the summer when our peach tree (or trees, I can’t remember which) was in full fruiting glory.
Armfuls of fresh ripe, super juicy peaches were falling so quickly my Mom resorted to freezing them by the bag full, canning until our cabinets were overflowing with jars of preserves, and cooking the rest into just about every recipe she could come up with. And yet they still managed to rot in the grass only to be thrown into the compost pile.
Years later it’s still difficult for me to taste a peach pie and not think of that summer—a peach flavored summer. Now I wait all season long for the peaches and nectarines to become ripe and flood my local grocery with their sweetness. It’s about this time of year, the last weeks of summer, that I like to baked them into a pies. Mini Peach & Nectarine Brown Sugar Pies made easy with refrigerator pie crust and baked into muffin tins.
Right now I’m watching them bubble away in my oven as I write this post. The smell of butter, cinnamon, and peach enveloping me like a warm summery hug. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into one, the memories of my peach filled summer returning. Maybe I’ll rename them childhood-oasis pies, that feels more fitting.
photos by Leah Bergman
- 2 Peaches, ripe but firm
- 1 Nectarine, ripe but firm
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for the board
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 package (2 rolls) prepared pie dough
- 1 egg, for brushing
- sugar, for topping
- Butter a standard (12 cup) muffin tin and set aside.
- On a floured surface, unroll pie dough and cut out 12-4" rounds and 12-2" hearts using cookie cutters. Press 4" rounds into buttered muffin tin and place hearts on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
- Peel and finely dice peaches and nectarine.
- Combine in a large bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, flour, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Toss until fruit is well coated.
- Spoon 2 level Tablespoons of pie filling into each cup. Top each cup with a small pat of butter (about 1/8 tsp) and a heart cutout.
- Make a egg wash by whisking together 1 egg and 1 tsp of water. Brush wash over the top of each heart and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
- Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes. If they bubbled over a bit, use a sharp knife to cut around the edges while still warm. Remove to cooling rack and cool completely.
- Serve at room temperature.
- *Instead of using a heart, you could always use a second 3" round topper for a traditional covered pie. If you decide to cover the pies completely, make sure to crimp the sides and vent the top with a hole or two before baking.