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When my friend Rebecca Rather ran Rather Sweet Bakery in downtown Fredericksburg, her pastries amassed a loyal fan base. (I still miss her pink shortbread pig cookies.) In the heart of peach country—where orchard stands line the highway through nearby Stonewall—the luscious fruit naturally inspired her summer confections. She served these irresistible peach fried pies after the local Fourth of July parade every year. “One year, it was so hot that I refused to make them,” she remembers, “and everyone was mad.” Her new restaurant, Rebecca’s Farmhouse, in a 1920s farmhouse 10 miles east of Fredericksburg, opens this summer on U.S. 290.
6 peaches, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
3/4 cup peach preserves
6 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups ice water
Safflower oil (or another vegetable oil) for frying
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. FILLING: Combine the peaches with the preserves.
2. CRUST: Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into ½-inch cubes. Work the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add ice water and gently form the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into thirds (each ball about the size of an orange).
3. Sprinkle a thin layer of flour on a pastry board or other flat, smooth surface. Roll out each portion of dough to 1/16-inch thickness, a little thicker than a tortilla. Cut dough into circles with a 5-inch-diameter cutter (the plastic top of a 1-quart yogurt container works well). Each ball of dough should make 4 rounds.
4. Put 1 tablespoon of peach filling in the center of each dough round. Fold the dough in half; wet your fingers and press to seal the edges. Crimp the edges with a fork.
5. To fry the pies, pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep frying pan and set it over medium-high heat. The oil is hot enough when a scrap of dough dropped into the pan sizzles and bubbles. Fry the pies, a few at a time, until golden brown. (They float, so this should take about 2–3 minutes per side.) Drain the pies on paper towels.
6. GLAZE: Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Using a pastry brush, glaze the warm pies. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature.
Makes 12 individual pies.