Star anise is a potent spice that can easily overpower any dish. I use it frequently when braising meats (such as hong shao rou – red braised pork belly) or making beef noodle soup. I learned about this spice from my mother. It’s a common spice used in Chinese cooking, and I think it adds a lot of complexity to a meat dish. I decided to use this flavor with my peach pie. However I had to be careful about the spice – it has to contribute a subtle flavor and not overpower the entire pie. I ended up grinding it up and incorporating it into the pie crust. It was perfect! The pie had a hint of star anise without overpowering the peach pie.
RECIPE: Whiskey Peach Blueberry Pie with a Star Anise Crust
*Pie crust adapted from Four & Twenty Blackbirds
Double star anise pie crust 9″
2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks butter, cubed into 1 cm pieces, cold – prepare this beforehand
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
3/4 cup cold water
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp ground star anise
1| Prepare: Cube butter into 1cm pieces, and place it in a bowl in the freezer. I find that this allows the butter to get very cold before you work with it. Put the 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar into cold water, and place this into the freezer as well. Don’t worry about it freezing- you will use it before it can freeze. Using a coffee grinder or spice grinder, grind up 3-4 whole star anise pieces. Set aside.
2| Combine flour, salt, sugar, and star anise.
3| Take cold butter, and using a pastry cutter, fork, or fingers, work quickly and cut butter into dry ingredients. Pea size chunks will remain, and that’s completely fine.
4| Take out cider vinegar / water mixture. Using tablespoons at a time, mix it into dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix or knead. Add the mixture gradually – you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out. The resulting dough should be damp but not moist.
5| Separate dough into two halves. Shape into disks and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in fridge. Let dough rest for at least 1 hour.
Whiskey Peach Blueberry Pie
1 cup blueberry (frozen or fresh – I always use fresh!)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp rye whiskey (or any form of whiskey or bourbon)
1/4 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground star anise
demarara sugar for sprinkling
egg wash (1 egg, beaten + splash of water)
1| Butter 9″ pie dish. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until it is about 2″ larger than your pie dish. Place onto dish. Place in fridge until filling is ready.
2| Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut an X onto the bottom of each peach. Have a large pot of ice cold water ready. Place peaches in for 30-60 seconds. Immediately place in ice water and let them cool. When cooled, you should be able to easily peel the skin off from the X.
3| Cut peaches to 0.5-1 cm thick slices.
4| Mix dry ingredients (sugar, brown sugar, corn starch, dry anise, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt, black pepper).
5| Combine peach slices and blueberries with lemon juice. Add rye whiskey. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let stand for 10 minutes.
6| Using a slotted spoon, transfer filling onto prepared pie dish.
7| Roll out other half of dough, and do a lattice or full crust (up to you).
8| Place in fridge for 15 minutes.
9| Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425F.
10| Brush pie with egg wash and sprinkle generously with demarara sugar.
11| Bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is light golden.
12| Reduce heat to 375F, and bake for another 35-40 minutes, until filling is bubbly.