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.  

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)
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

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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