Peach-Almond Buckle

The peach tree on the side of our house was one of the first things I noticed when we first toured our house.  It was late spring and the tree was filled with tiny green fruit and I was ecstatic that we might get to live in a home where I could have my own peach tree.  There were a few other things about the house that were appealing as well, but the tree was a selling point for me.

These are my peaches. Hands off.

These are my peaches. Hands off.

Fast forward four years of home ownership.  The first year we owned the house, we had a ton of peaches but someone picked almost all of them while I was at work one day (still a very sore subject) and the following two years we had late snows and thus no peaches.  This year we had late snow, freezing rain, and a massive hail storm in July that ruined our garden, but the peaches hung on!  They have some hail-caused pock marks, but we had a banner year for a somewhat pathetic tree in an oftentimes unforgiving climate.

I've been a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of peaches our little tree produced.  For the past two weeks, Blythe and I spend time under the tree after work each day.  We each pick and eat a peach, we shake our fists at the "darn squirrels" (seriously, Blythe has learned this phrase from this book) who take one bite of a peach and drop it, and gather the peaches on the ground.  We had at least 100 peaches and even after delivering bags to friends around the neighborhood, slicing and freezing quite a few, and taking some to work, I still had a heaping bowl waiting for me this weekend.  What does one do with an abundance of peaches?  Make dessert.

This Strawberry-Rhubarb Buckle is one of my all-time favorite desserts for its simplicity and universal appeal and it is easily adaptable for other fruit.  I worked in a fair bit of almond flour for texture and flavor and doubled the fruit because I prefer more fruit to crust.  If you are allergic to nuts, you can use the dough from the Strawberry-Rhubarb Buckle and it will be just as delicious, but if you have almond flour, I'd give this version a try with peaches (or any stone fruit).  

Enjoying her evening peach snack

Enjoying her evening peach snack

Peach-Almond Buckle
Adapted from this Strawberry-Rhubarb Buckle via Alexandra Cooks
Yield = 16 squares

Notes: I doubled the fruit for this buckle and am glad I did.  My weighed the peaches when they were pitted and I can't estimate a number of peaches because the fruit from our tree is so inconsistent in size.  

Filling:
2.5 pounds sliced and pitted peaches (anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 pounds will work, I just prefer more fruit)
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
 
Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick cold, unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used 2% milk)

Crumb Topping:
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preparation
1. Make the crust: Whisk together white and almond flours and sugar in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps. Beat together yolks and cream with a fork and stir into flour mixture until combined. Gently knead mixture in bowl with floured hands just until a dough forms.  These steps can also be completed using a stand mixer and I find you get much more consistent results and the butter is worked in much more when you use one.  Flatten dough into a 6-inch disk and chill, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center position. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper.

3. Stir together peaches, 1/8 cup sugar and almond extract if you are using it; set aside to macerate.  If you don't do this well in advance and all the sugar isn't soaked up, don't worry about it - just scrape it over the fruit and it will soak in during baking.

4. Crumb topping: Stir together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the butter and mix up with your fingers until clumps form. Set aside.

5. Unwrap dough.  The recipe yields enough for a 9x13 pan so you may have some leftover.  Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or wax paper) into a square, or as close to this shape as possible. Peel off top layer of parchment and invert dough into prepared baking pan.  This transfer won't be perfect and there will be some wonkiness/folds in the corners.  Trim the dough at the edges and patch the corner holes with trimmed dough.  If you have trouble peeling the dough from the parchment, put the dough back in the refrigerator until it is chilled enough that the dough separates easily - it shouldn't just fall off, but this shouldn't be hard to do and warm dough will make it hard.

6. Top this crust layer with the peaches and sprinkle with as much crumb topping as you would like.  Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for about 35 minutes more or until golden on top and cooked through. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack and cut buckle into 2-inch squares.  Note that the longer this sets before eating, the less runny it will be and the better your slices will hold together in squares.  I found that with the increased quantity of peaches, this did not hold together in slices well.

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Fruit Popsicles

I'm already hearing chatter about the end of summer, but I refuse to accept the idea that the days of popsicles and trips to the pool are over.  At the beginning of the summer, I purchased a Zoku Popsicle Mold and we've been having homemade popsicles all summer long.  I sound like a broken record at this point, but you know I like my desserts less sweet and when you make popsicles at home, you can reduce the sugar or omit it entirely.  The other "vessels" for popsicles that are perfect for Blythe are Kiddzo Reusable Ice Pop (essentially you can make Otter Pops at home).  The Kiddzo molds are less messy for Blythe, but harder to clean and fill.

Blythe is a big fan of popsicles

Blythe is a big fan of popsicles

I feel a little lame, but I don't have a recipe for popsicles to give you because my approach is to take whatever fruit I have on hand, blend it with coconut water, almond coconut milk, or juice and freeze it! I got the idea to make a layered popsicle from these Tie Dye Popsicles, but I could only manage two layers (which you achieve by making one layer, freezing it until partially frozen (15-20 minutes)).  I'm going to try these Coconut Milk Fudgesicles this weekend, but the popsicles pictured are one layer of strawberries and blueberries blended with coconut water and one layer of watermelon.  Nothing fancy, but they do the trick on a hot summer afternoon. It's not too late for summer 2016 and you know it will be hot well into September anyway!

Cherry Peach Galette

Over the weekend, I made my annual trip to the Boulder Farmer's Market.  It is, hands down, the best market on the Front Range.  I've waxed poetic about it before and it never disappoints.  At this time of year, there was an abundance of fresh corn, perfectly ripe Palisades peaches, tomatoes, cherries, and peppers.  The harvest from our own garden has been limited due to a huge hail storm last month that obliterated the entire garden.  Some of it has bounced back, but we are a few weeks behind where everything should be.  I have basil and various greens, but only green tomatoes and sad-looking pepper plants.

The "Stunning as the Sunrise" description of these beets cracks me up.

The "Stunning as the Sunrise" description of these beets cracks me up.

I was lured in by a range of things at the market, including a huge box of tomatoes (I made large batches of this bolognese and this tomato sauce to freeze).  And then there were the peaches and cherries.  I couldn't resist... and since we abandoned the Whole30, it seemed appropriate to make a dessert.

Taking a break from the market to play in Boulder Creek and pick dandelions in the adjacent park.

Taking a break from the market to play in Boulder Creek and pick dandelions in the adjacent park.

My go-to dessert for summer fruit is typically pie, but I wanted something simpler so I searched for galette recipes and stumbled upon this one from Melissa Clark at the NY Times. I have her cookbook Cook This Now and have never been disappointed by a recipe and if you watch the video, she provides some helpful tips about how to improve a galette and get the right ratio of sugar to fruit depending on the type of fruit.  Her advice is that tart stone fruits need more sugar and cornstarch whereas berries and cherries need less.  If you are working with fruit that isn't perfectly ripe or doesn't have a strong flavor, a trick to ramp up flavor is to spread a thin layer of jam over the rolled out dough before adding the fruit.

Look at all of that delicious fruit!

Look at all of that delicious fruit!

I used peaches and cherries to fill my galette, both of which were at peak ripeness.  As I usually do in desserts, I erred on the side of less sugar (the peaches and cherries were both sweet on their own) and added more fruit.  My Mom, Blythe and I enjoyed the galette, which was absolutely delicious - this will be my new go-to dough recipe for galettes.  Conveniently, I doubled the dough recipe and froze the other half so I'll be prepared to make my next one at a moment's notice.

It is safe to say that Blythe enjoyed her first galette.

It is safe to say that Blythe enjoyed her first galette.

Cherry Peach Galette
Tweaked just a bit from Melissa Clark via the NY Times
Yield = 8 servings

Ingredients
For the dough:

  • 1 ⅓ cups/165 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon/15 grams sugar
  • ½ teaspoon/3 grams fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  •  Heavy cream, as needed
  • 1 stick/113 grams unsalted butter, cut into big pieces
  • 2 teaspoons/10 milliliters lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon/4 grams grated lemon zest (optional)

For the filling:

  • 4 cups of peaches (cubed) and cherries (pitted and halved)
  • 1/4 cup sugar, to taste (I cut this in half from the original recipe)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice and grated zest of 1/2 lemon (optional - I omitted this for this particular fruit combination)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons/25 to 35 grams cornstarch

Preparation

MAKE THE CRUST:

  1. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or in a large bowl, pulse or mix together flour, sugar and salt. In a measuring cup, lightly beat the egg, then add just enough cream to get to 1/3 cup. Lightly whisk the egg and cream together.
  2. Add butter to flour mixture and pulse or use a pastry cutter or your fingers to break up the butter. If using a food processor, do not over-process; you need chickpea-size chunks of butter. Drizzle the egg mixture (up to 1/4 cup) over the dough and pulse or stir until it just starts to come together but is still mostly large crumbs. Mix in lemon juice and zest if using.
  3. Put dough on lightly floured counter and pat it together to make one uniform piece. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 2 hours, or up to 3 days.
  4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch round (it can be ragged). Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill while preparing the filling.

MAKE THE FILLING:

  1. Toss together fruit, all but a tablespoon of sugar, the salt, the lemon juice and zest, and the cornstarch. Use more cornstarch for juicy stone fruit and less for blueberries, raspberries and figs. Pile fruit on the dough circle, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Gently fold the pastry over the fruit, pleating to hold it in (sloppy is fine). Brush pastry generously with leftover egg and cream mixture. Sprinkle remaining sugar on the crust.
  2. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the filling bubbles up vigorously and the crust is golden. Cool for at least 20 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature (and with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream if you'd like).

  

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Nutty-Seedy-Fruity Energy Bars

I've professed my love for Flour bakery in Boston numerous times on this blog (Intense Chocolate Brownies, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and Apricot Almond & Cherry Almond Muffins).  I still stings that we moved away from our fabulous apartment on Clarendon Street in the South End and a new Flour bakery opened just around the corner as soon as we left.  I suppose my waistline is thankful, but the rest of me is not.

If you've read my dessert posts before, you'll know that I love to reduce sugar in my baking.  I find most desserts cloyingly sweet and don't mind making things healthy as well.  Joanne Chang (of Flour fame) published a new cookbook called "Baking with Less Sugar" that highlights ways to use less sugar or alternatives to sugar (honey, maple syrup, molasses, or fruit).  I've only made this recipe I'm sharing, but it was a huge hit and I can't wait to try others.

These bars filled both the snack void and the breakfast-on-the-go void that are often filled with less healthy options.  Granola bars are delicious, but often are full of fat and unhealthy ingredients.  These are flavorful, easy for grabbing and going, and the perfect early afternoon pick-me-up or pre-exercise snack.  Make a batch and you'll always have a healthy snack available.

I haven't tried adapting this recipe, but suspect you could replace like ingredients if you don't like them (e.g., sub certain nuts or fruits for others).  The genius of this recipe is the pureeing of the dried fruit that has been reconstituted.  This fruity liquid/jam makes the bars congeal, which typically requires lots of butter or other fat.  Don't be intimidated by the long ingredients list and please let me know what you think!

I forgot to take a photo before sneaking one of the bars!

I forgot to take a photo before sneaking one of the bars!

Nutty-Seedy-Fruity Energy Bars
Baking with Less Sugar by Joanne Chang
Yield = 16 large bars

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried apple slices, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins - I skipped these and just used 1 cup of raisins)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant oats)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (such as canola)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 rip banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup millet

Preparation
1.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

2.  Put the walnuts, almonds, and pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until slightly toasted.  Set aside to cool.

3.  Put the dried apples, cranberries, apricots, sultanas, and raisins in a medium bowl and pour boiling water over the fruit to cover.  Let sit for 30 minutes.

4.  Decrease the oven temperate to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5.  In a large bowl, combine the nuts, almond flour, buckwheat flour, oats, coconut, salt, cinnamon, vegetable oil, honey, banana, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, and millet.  Using a wooden spoon, stir well until thoroughly combined. 

6.  Drain the fruit into a medium bowl, reserving 1/4 cup of the soaking water and discarding the rest of the liquid.  Divide the fruit roughly in half, place half in a food processor or in a  blender, and add the reserved soaking water.  Process until you have a chunky jam.  Add the jam to the nut mixture along with the remaining whole fruit.  Stir well to combine.  

7.  Press the mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheet into a rectangle about 12 by 8 inches.  I used a rimmed quarter baking sheet, which is slightly larger than that but worked quite well.  Using a sharp knife, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise and then cut each half into 8 pieces widthwise so you have a total of 16 bars.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown throughout.  Reduce the oven temperate to 250 degrees and continue to bake for another hour.  Turn off the oven and let the bars sit in the oven until completely cool.  They will get dark, but that is okay.

8.  Remove from the oven and, using a sharp knife, recut the bars along the marks to separate.  The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

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