The sad truth about homemade peach pie is that there's never enough. As much as we all love pie for dessert, it's nice to follow up with a midnight slice. If you're lucky enough to have any left after that, well, nothing gets a body out of bed faster than the promise of the last syrupy slice in the pie dish for breakfast. But the reality is that most of the time a good peach pie will disappear moments after you plunge in the pie server, without any regard for the future.
A slab pie, on the other hand, has staying power. Not only will it feed a crowd, but you will also still probably have leftovers, so you can offer seconds without having to fall back on granola in the morning.
A slab pie is also convenient in that you can make it all at once, rather than having to roll out the pastry for two separate pies. And it's easier to carry to a picnic or party than two pies. Most slab pies are made in shallow 11-by-17-inch jelly roll pans. In this recipe, I use a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; its taller sides will give you a deep dish pie, meaning you can stuff in even more peaches or nectarines or berries or pears or plums.
Another difference between this pie and a more traditional slab pie: the top crust. Here, I use a cinnamon- and ginger-imbued streusel. It makes this seem like a cross between a crumble and a pie, with the flaky crust of the pie and the crunchy, sugary nubs of the crumble - the best of both worlds.
If you like to plan things ahead, you can make the pie dough and crumble topping a few days before and store them in the fridge. But the pastry is at its most crisp if you bake and eat on the same day. That said, no one but you will be the wiser if you bake it a day ahead. Store it overnight at room temperature, covered with a clean dish towel or foil (not plastic wrap) so it can breathe. A cover also keeps those tempting, easily snitched crumbles out of sight. Which, if you happen to be in the kitchen at midnight the day before your party, is a most necessary precaution.
Peach Crumble Slab Pie Time: 2 1/2 hours, plus 1 hour's chilling Yield: 12 to 16 servings
CRUST: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water, as needed
FILLING: 6 pounds ripe peaches, nectarines or a mix, pitted and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar, more to taste 1/3 cup instant tapioca Zest of 3 lemons 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated nutmeg 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
CRUMBLE TOPPING: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup packed dark brown sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1. Make the crust: In a food processor, briefly pulse together flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (6 to 8 1-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form dough into a large ball. Wrap with plastic and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
2. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll out dough to an 11-x-15-inch rectangle, dusting with flour if dough is sticking. Fold dough in half and transfer to a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Carefully press crust into the bottom of the pan and completely up the edges so it's flush with the top of the pan. (You don't need to crimp the dough.) Return crust to refrigerator while you prepare the filling and crumble topping.
3. Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss together peaches, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest and juice, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and add a little more sugar if needed.
4. Meanwhile, heat oven to 425 degrees. Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the oven floor to preheat. Arrange one oven rack on the lowest position and a second rack in the center position.
5. Make the crumble: Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Mix in butter with your fingertips until mixture is uniformly moist and comes together in large clumps.
6. Spoon filling into crust and top with crumble. Move baking sheet to the lowest rack and place pie on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Move baking sheet with pie to the center rack. Continue baking until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.