Peach Pie Crumble – Summer is here!

Millions of peaches, peaches for free. Millions of peaches, peaches for me. It’s stone fruit season! Woohoo!

Stone fruit season is the harbinger of summer.  Let me tell you, I didn’t need a peach to tell me that the temperatures were going up and that the sun has come for good and doesn’t plan on giving us a rest until November. When the laundry dried in under five hours, it was kind of a giveaway. Also, if you go outside and it feels like someone has a blow dryer blowing on you – also kind of a giveaway.  Though, I have to admit it is not unbearable yet. There are even some days when we don’t need to turn on the air conditioner. There is something about this weather that just calls out for a nice juicy peach.  That has to be the reason why they ripen just at this time of year.

Last week’s special was peach pie… with a crumble topping.  So peach crumble… in a pie crust. So peach pie crumble! (Actually I used nectarines, so Nectarine Pie Crumble if we want to get technical.) I was so excited to make the first stone fruit dessert of the season.  I got a whole bunch of peaches and nectarines and then I didn’t know what to do with them.  I spent Friday morning browsing through the cookbooks, thought about making peach dumplings, but wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to make a peach pie and I couldn’t find the recipe that I was “feeling”. Also, I didn’t have the energy to try and steal five minutes on the computer from Rocker Dude to browse online. In The Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer I found a list of easy fruit pie fillings.  One was a peach pie. So this pie is inspired a bit from there, and a bit from what I had in the house.

A slice of pie. Sorry for the poor lighting, it was late and there was only one piece of pie left. I didn't want to wait until morning when there would be no pie left.
A slice of pie. Sorry for the poor lighting, it was late and there was only one piece of pie left. I didn’t want to wait until morning when there would be no pie left.

The little bro came over for the weekend, and even though he is usually a fan of my baking, he decided to have babka for his dessert instead.  (Granted, I made that as well, but apparently he wasn’t feeling the pie thing.) I was very disappointed in him.  I guess if I had made a strawberry shortcake, he would have dug right in. At least this time, Rocker Dude liked the pie.  Which is interesting, because I used almond extract in the filling and he hates almonds and almond extract.  Don’t tell him that he liked something with almond in it – I have to win somewhere :).

Peach Pie Crumble
Peach Pie Crumble

I had some crumble topping in the freezer left over from an apple crumble that I made who-knows-when, and I am really attempting to clean up what is in the house and use what already exists before I go shopping for more. Ergo, use already made crumble topping on pie – great solution. I was worried that the crumble might get soggy in the peach juices but it totally stayed crunchy.  I recently read somewhere that in restaurants, in order to keep the crumble crunchy, they bake the fruit and crumble topping separately and then right before serving, they reheat the fruit with the crumble topping to make a cohesive dish.  Great trick!

I can’t wait to make more things with the new crop of peaches, nectarines and apricots! Stay tuned!

Recipe:

Crust:Half of this recipe, made until the chill step
1 egg white

Filling:
6-7 medium sized peaches, peeled, or nectarines, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon juice

Topping:
1 stick butter or margarine
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

While your dough is chilling, mix together the ingredients for the filling. Let it macerate while you make the topping and roll out the dough.

Place all the topping ingredients into a bowl.  With a pastry cutter, or your hands, gently incorporate the butter/margarine into the dry ingredients until it is crumbly and holds together when you squeeze a bit in your hands.  Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about an 1/8 inch thickness.  Gently place in a 9 inch pie pan and crimp the edges decoratively. Using a pastry brush, brush egg white over the bottom of the crust to help prevent sogginess.  Then add the filling, mounding it slightly in the center. Generously sprinkle the crumble on top of the filling and place the pie into the oven.

Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on your oven, until the crust edges are slightly browned and the filling is bubbling. Let cool on a cooling rack. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

An Apricot Tart

Who doesn’t love stone fruit? I mean aren’t they just the perfect fruits? Sweet and juicy (and apparently cherries lower your blood sugar – who knew?) and always delicious.  Stone fruit season started about a month ago, and due to a particularly cool and wet winter, there is a bumper crop of stone fruit this year.  Apricots in particular have a short season, so I decided to take advantage of it while I could.  Two years ago I made apricot crostadas, last year I was being good and not baking too much, and this year I decided to make a simple, delicious apricot tart.  Well, in this case, tartlets.  I was in the mood, so why not?

Apricot Tart

I looked around on the internet and there are not that many recipes involving apricots, probably because of their short growing season.  So I decided to take some artistic license and make up a recipe, based on another one.  Now there will be one more apricot recipe out there.

I was inspired by this recipe from pastry studio (she has a lot of great recipes, and tips for the less experienced baker so make sure to check out her site), but decided to make proper tartlets in my mini tart pans as opposed to a galette.  And I went with my tried and true Sweet Tart Dough that always comes out so delicious and flaky.

When I mixed up the filling I decided that it looked a little dry so to add a bit of flavor I added some almond extract (don’t tell Rocker Dude!  I only mentioned it after he had tried a bite 🙂 ) and it really made the tart something special.  The filling is still simple enough that the flavor of the apricots really shines through. Even the Little rocker enjoyed the tart, though that might have been because she was watching The Backyardigans Samurai Pie episode and they kept talking about pies.

This recipe would also work well as a tart, if you prefer family style serving.

Recipe (makes 7 4-inch tartlets or one 9 inch tart):

Crust:

Sweet Tart Dough

Filling:

8 apricots, stoned and sliced into eighths
1/4 cup sugar (a bit more if the apricots are particularly tart – baking the apricots makes the tartness come out)
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Prepare the tart dough until the refrigeration stage.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Then mix all the filling ingredients together.  Let it sit while you roll out the tart dough.  Lay the tart dough in the tart pan(s) and place apricot slices in concentric circles to make a decorative filling.

Bake the tartlets for 25 minutes or so, until the crust is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling gently, a full-size tart will take longer, probably about 40 minutes or so.  Let cool.  Enjoy!

An Apple Torte for Winter

Here we are, in the dead of winter, at probably the coldest day of the season so far (50 degrees F during the day), and it is time for an apple dessert.  Apples are at their best in the fall and winter and they deserve their day in the spotlight.

This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my Home to Yours and is absolutely delightful.  It combines the elegance of a tart with the double crust of a pie.  So basically you have a double crusted apple tart=a torte.

Apple Torte
Apple Torte

This torte is filled with applesauce.  I made it once with store bought apple sauce (oh the horror!) and added some vanilla and nutmeg and no one noticed that it wasn’t homemade.  This time I decided to go all the way and make the torte as it deserved to be made, with homemade applesauce and nuts. Yes that is right Rocker Dude – ground almonds in the filling. Rocker Dude has a a fear or maybe just a distaste of eating anything involving nuts, but I figured that because we would be having other people at the meal I could add in the nuts and I wouldn’t get too many vocal complaints ;).

I made this dessert during my usual Friday cooking rush, but made sure at least to spread out the prep so I had my crust ready and chilled in the morning, made the applesauce and chilled that so by 2 pm I was ready to assemble and bake the torte.

Apple Torte Filling

After everyone had eaten the dessert (which would probably be great with some vanilla ice cream) I got certain looks from a certain person about the nuts in the filling.  The comment made was that when you take a bite of the torte, you expect a soft filling and suddenly there is some crunch from the nuts.  I actually liked the texture it added to the torte, but a promise was extracted from me to not make it with nuts again.  So I probably won’t, at least for a while ;).

Recipe (From Baking: From my Home to Yours):

1 double recipe Sweet Tart Dough

Filling:

2 lbs. (about 5 medium) tart or tart-sweet apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp. apple cider, apple juice or water
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup ground almonds (apparently optional)
pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt

Divide prepared tart dough into two parts.  Refrigerate one half and press the other half over the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch tart pan.  Butter a piece of aluminum foil and press is lightly against the surface of the dough.  Refrigerate for at least two hours. (Or freeze if you are in a hurry).

When the second half of the dough is chilled, roll it into a circle that is between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into a 10-inch circle and then using a shot glass as a guide, cut a hole in the center of the dough to act as a steam vent. Slide the dough onto a cookie sheet a refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Fill the foil over the crust with beans or pie weights and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  You don’t want it to get too brown because you will be baking it again. Cool to room temperature.

Put the apples, brown sugar, cider and nutmeg in a medium saucepan, cover and bring to a boil.  You want the mixture to stay at a medium bubble.  Continue to cook for about 10 minutes until the apples are so soft that you can almost mash them with the back of a spoon.  Remove the cover and boil for five minutes more.  Add the almonds, if you are using them, and the rest of the spices.  Pour the filling into a  bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Cool. The filling can be made up to two days in advance.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Fill the cooled crust with the applesauce filling. Lightly moisten the edges of the crust and lay the chilled top crust on top of the filling.  Press the edges of the crust to seal. Run a rolling pin over the top  to trim off the excess dough.

Bake the tart for 20 minutes.  Lower the oven to 350 degrees F. and cover the tart loosely with a foil tent. Continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

Fig Almond Tartelettes

The holidays are over!  After about three weeks of on-and-off holidays (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth) we are finally returning to normal life.  Rocker Dude, the Little Rocker and I have had a lot of fun over the past few weeks.  We spent about a week and a half at the in-laws, and the Little Rocker was spoiled silly (isn’t that their job in the world?  I always thought so).  We also had a birthday party for her as you saw in this post, though I will make a separate post about the birthday cake – who likes Elmo?

On Friday I went to the Farmer’s Market here in Givat Shmuel as I usually do on Fridays.  I got the awesome pickles that I love from a kibbutz, and I looked around for other things to inspire me.  There was one stand with four different types of cherry/grape tomatoes – they were so fresh!  I brought about a kilo of those home, and then I saw the figs.  I thought I had missed fig season when it started in August because we then flew to the US and when we came back, all the figs that I saw were mushy and not appealing.  Not these figs.  They were soft but not mushy, and they tasted so good!  I have never had a fresh fig before as they are not common in the northeast being more of a warm weather fruit.  I was a little hesitant as I had tried fresh guavas last week and they were nasty.

Look at these beauts!

Dried figs are good, but after three or four, they kind of lose their appeal.  And dried figs feel like they are just full of seeds and nothing else.  So I bought a container and decided to bake something with them for the Sabbath.  I remembered seeing a lot of interesting recipes and as I have not baked anything really elegant in a while, I figured that something with figs qualifies as elegant.

I looked through some of the blogs that I follow, and came across this Fig and Almond Tartelette on Tartelette’s blog.  Her food always looks so elegant and her photography is gorgeous.  One day I hope that I can attend one of her  lectures on photography.

Almond Fig Tart

I know that Rocker Dude doesn’t like almonds, but he doesn’t like figs that much either, so I decided that this dessert was not for him – it was for the other 8 people at the table.  I made Tartelette’s pie crust, a crust that did not require refrigeration before rolling out, though I froze it for an hour before baking it.

Tart crust before adding liquid
Out with the old and in with the new. I got these from my mom's pantry when we went to the US in January, good thing I took both! Thanks Imma!

It did shrink a tiny bit, but not enough to ruin the shape.  I knew that we were going to be 9 people for dinner and I only have 8 tartelette pans, so I decided to make this into one big tart and serve it in slices.  In order to make sure I had enough, I doubled the recipe.  it made enough for one 10 inch tart and two 4 inch tartelettes. Although the recipe originally says to bake the crusts for 30 minutes, I decided to only parbake the crusts as they would be baked again and I did not want to overbake them.

All three tart crusts, parbaked.

The filling was really easy to make.  I ground up the almonds in the food processor and added the rest of the ingredients, including the rum and then poured it into the cooled tart crust.  I have to admit that it didn’t look like there would be enough filling to fill the big tart let alone the two little tartelettes.  But I trusted that Tartelette knows what she is talking about and indeed, I was wrong, and there was plenty.

The filling, before mixing.

Then I gently pressed the fig halves over the filling (after eating two of them) and baked them in the oven.  The filling rose to encase the figs gently.  When they came out, the tarts looked wonderful.

Almond Fig Tart

I did not have apricot jam to glaze the tarts, so I used strawberry.  I figure that if the figs already have a red sort of color, the faint pink of the strawberry and rum would not color the tart too much.  I was right.

A delicious bite.

The tart was well enjoyed by everyone (except for Rocker Dude), though you could really feel the alcohol.  My ex-roommate R. was over for the weekend and brought a nice dessert wine, and they paired very nicely together.  R. is training right now to run the Venice marathon at the end of the month – she is crazy.  But if anyone in the Jerusalem area is looking for a personal trainer or a massage therapist, she is certified in both and is really good.  (She used to practice on me and Rocker Dude while she was learning – free massages anyone?)

Make this tart – and feel fancy!

Recipe (adapted from Helene of Tartelette):

Fig Almond Tartelettes

Makes 1 10-inch tart and 2 4-inch tartelettes

For crust
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For filling

2/3 cup whole almonds (about 4 ounces)
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
8 teaspoons rum
24 ounces ripe figs, cut into halves (about 8 )
1/2 cup strawberry (or apricot) jam

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine first 3 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Mix 4 tablespoons ice water and vanilla in small bowl. Pour water mixture over dough. Process until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Roll out on floured surface to 12-inch round.  Fit into tart pan and trim excess dough. Roll out the excess dough to fit the tartelette pans.  Freeze the dough in the pan for at least 30 minutes.  Using fork, pierce dough all over. Bake crust until pale golden, about 20 minutes (crust may shrink slightly). Cool on rack. Maintain oven temperature.

Make filling:
Finely grind almonds with sugar in processor. Add eggs, butter and 4 teaspoons rum. Process until batter forms. Pour filling into crust. Arrange fig halves atop filling. Bake until figs are tender and filling is golden and set, about 25 minutes.
Melt jelly with remaining 4 teaspoons rum in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat. Brush jelly mixture over figs. Cool tarts. Serve at room temperature.