Make the dough
Tip:The lemon juice in the pastry helps produce a flaky, tender crust. Gluten, responsible for tough pastry, develops when flour is combined with liquids. The addition of an acid inhibits this process.
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 pulses. Add the milk and lemon juice and pulse until the dough just starts to come together, 8 to 10 pulses more. Do not overprocess. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, gather it into a rectangle, and flatten slightly. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough with a 4-inch round cookie cutter into 12 circles. (If necessary, gather the scraps and reroll once.) Shingle the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate.
Make the filling
Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl in the water.
In a heavy-duty 3-quart saucepan, combine the peaches with 1/3 cup of the sugar, the lemon juice, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the peaches have softened and released some of their juices, about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with 1 Tbs. cold water. Add the slurry to the peach mixture and cook over medium-low heat until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the hot pepper jelly, 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne. Remove from the heat and stir to blend. Transfer the mixture to the bowl in the ice bath and cool.
Assemble the pies
Brush the perimeter of each dough round with water. Put a rounded tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Fold the dough in half to form a half-moon shape and pinch the edges together to seal. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours before frying.
Fry the pies
Combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne in a shallow bowl and reserve.
Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. Fill a 10-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) with 1/2 inch of oil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom. Heat the oil to 365°F and fry the pies in two batches until golden-brown, 1 to 1½ minutes per side. With a slotted spoon, remove the pies from the pan, drain on the paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and then dredge in the cinnamon-sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. These pies are best the day they’re made.
nutrition information (per serving):
9, Fat Calories
80, Saturated Fat
3, Monounsaturated Fat
47, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Alexandra Grablewski