Leta’s Peach Pies

I got back late last night from the Beverly Hills Literary Escape, which was filled with great authors and equally great readers. (Really, I’ve never met a more enthusiastic, charming group of readers.)  I’ll talk about the weekend a little more tomorrow, but today I’m here to add a recipe. 

I had several conversations this past weekend turn to the food in The Well and the Mine. It’s funny–I thought the food, along with some of the other cultural aspects, might resonate more in the South than in other parts of the country. But, if anything, these ladies seemed more interested in the Moores’ menu than anyone I’ve talked to in the Deep South. Somebody told me that a member of their bookclub brought peach pies to the book discussion. About an hour after that, a lovely woman–a baker, nonetheless–asked me if I actually made the peach pies in the book.

So, Sindy, this is for you.

Now, a word of warning: I’ve made these at least a dozen times, and only once did I think they turned out tasting exactly like they do when my grandmother or great aunt make them. Here’s the main issue–neither of them use measurement when they make pies. They go by texture, mainly–by how the dough sticks to their hands, by how heavy or soft or dry it is. They lift a ball of dough and realize it needs more milk. This is a really interesting process to watch, but in terms of being able to replicate the process, it’s quite frustrating. So the recipe below came about from me cooking with my great aunt a couple of times, both of us estimating and agreeing on measurements as she scooped flour and shortening, etc.

Leta’s Peach (or Apple) Pies

1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
A heaping TBS shortening
A splash of buttermilk–enough to make the dough stick together

Mix up the dough and let it set for 30 minutes or so.

At least 2 cups of fresh cut peaches or apples
About 1/2 water (maybe less for peaches)
About 1 cup sugar–you want the fruit filling a little sweeter than you’d want to eat it plain

Depending on how big you want your pies, take a heaping TBS or so of dough and place on a floured surface. Use a glass or rolling pin to roll into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. You want it thick enough that it won’t tear. I usually make them the circles about 6-inches across. Add a couple of large teaspoons of fruit to one side of the circle. Fold circle in half, making a half moon shape with the fruit in the middle. Use a fork to press down edges of pie. (Use a knife to tidy edges, if you like.)

Slather each pie with butter–a thin layer all across the top. I believe this makes about 6 pies. Cook on 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Crust should be soft, not crispy.

You’ll notice I don’t fry pies. Other than okra, I try not to fry anything I cook. (This is the New South, guys.) I figure slathering with butter should be unhealthy enough for anyone. But, if you really want to go old-school, you can fry the pies in a cast-iron skillet in a half-inch or so of vegetable oil.


  1. Sindy on May 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Gin!
    What a treat to have your Grandmother/Great Aunt’s Pie recipe!!! I am so excited to try the Famous Leta’s Pie! I think I am going to make the Apple Pie first and when I do I will be thinking of you!!!

    Thank you so much!!!

    Hope all is well with you!

    🙂 Sindy

    • Gin Phillips on June 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      Hello, Sindy. Great to hear from you–I have a feeling the pies may come out better when you make them than when I do.

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