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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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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Strawberry-Rhubarb Buckle

Summer fruit season has yet to start and I've already made my first buckle of the season.  I was certain that I had previously posted about this go-to dessert, but somehow it slipped through the cracks.  Last summer alone, I probably made 15 buckles.  

Does that sound excessive?  Probably.  However, this dessert is incredibly delicious and versatile.  You can use any fruit you'd like - I've made it with peaches, plums, apricots, mixed berries, and apples.  You can prep everything ahead of time.  You can serve it with ice cream or whipped cream.  You will most likely find yourself eating it for breakfast.  You can easily take it to any potluck, backyard gathering or BBQ.

I went for the classic strawberry-rhubarb combination, which allowed me to cut back on sugar in the filling.  I'd rather cut the rhubarb with berries than with a ton of sugar and this still ends up being plenty sweet.  I was asked what the difference is between a buckle and other similar fruit desserts so I'll explain based on what I've found online.  It seems that a buckle involves a cake-like batter underneath the fruit.  As the buckle cooks, the cake rises around the fruit, which means the fruit sinks inward, causing the dessert to buckle!  On the other hand, a crumble has an oat-based streusel on top of fruit (and no bottom layer).  A crisp is like a crumble, but the streusel does not contain oats and is more akin to a crumbled pie crust.  A cobbler is topped with individually-dropped biscuits.  And finally, a grunt or a slump is like a cobbler, but instead of being cooked in an oven, they are cooked covered on the stove top! 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Buckle
Adapted from Alexandra Cooks (via Martha Stewart and Rosebank Farms Café via Gourmet Magazine, July 2004)
Yield = 16 squares

Notes: I always have leftover dough and crumb topping when I make this recipe.  In my opinion, you can cut back on the crumb topping a bit or you can use the leftovers for another delicious fruit dessert.  If you are using a different fruit, you need about 1 pound (after removing any pits, etc.) or approximately 4 cups.  The quantity of fruit does not have to be exact.

Filling:
9 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and cut 1/2 inch thick on the bias (approximately 2 1/2 cups)
7 ounces strawberries, tops removed and thinly sliced (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
1/8 cup sugar (The original recipe, which is a straight rhubarb filling, called for 1/2 cup of sugar.  I've decreased this considerably since I added strawberries and it was plenty sweet.  For other fruit, use your judgment.  I find that most fruit is sweet enough that you need to add very little sugar.  Rhubarb is at the bitter end of the sweetness spectrum, so I'd never use more than 1/2 cup of sugar with any fruit.)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick cold, unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream 

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

Preparation
1. Make the crust: Whisk together flour 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.  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 rhubarb, strawberries, 1/8 cup sugar and lemon zest; 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 will 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 rhubarb mixture, 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, then lift cake from pan using parchment.  Remove parchment.  Before serving, 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.

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French Apple Tart

French Apple Tart

I'd seen the tart in Saveur, but was thrilled to try Ali's rendition, which included an additional layer of frangipane (a delicious blend of almonds, butter, and sugar).  The added frangipane elevates this tart... and if you can make the tart look beautiful, you've got yourself the perfect dinner party dessert offering.  Me?  I had a bit of trouble with perfecting the "rose" design that is supposed to result, but I thought it was lovely all the same.

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Apple Cranberry Crumble

Apple Cranberry Crumble

I'm guessing that, regardless of where you live, there is an abundance of apples in your area.  I sampled about five varieties on Saturday before settling on Jonagolds.  We've been in between stone fruit and apple season here and I haven't made much dessert in the last month.  I found myself day dreaming of baked apples and cinnamon and wondered if I could meld my favorite dessert (Plum Crumble) into one containing apples?  It turns out that the crumble topping is just as delicious and crunchy and buttery with apples underneath as it is with plums.

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