August 30, 2013

Puff pastry and local peach treats

I'm still working through the last batch of puff pastry I made, in which I think I put a bit too much water. It turned out a little tough, so it hasn't been flying out of the freezer. Lately we have been getting amazing peaches with our CSA, so I took the opportunity to make some desserts with the puff pastry and these seasonal delights.

I've done two batches of peaches. In both cases I ended up with about 900g of peeled and pitted fruit, or roughly a pie filling worth. I blanch the peaches for about a minute in simmering water before peeling. If the fruit is under ripe, this doesn't help much and you end up peeling with a paring knife anyway. And if its very ripe, the skin doesn't cohere well enough to peel off in a sheet and you sort of end up rubbing it away. But if it is perfectly ripe, the skin peels off nicely after a brief trip through the hot water.

After the fruit was prepped, I added 1/3c sugar, the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of salt. The fruit was left to macerate for 30-60 minutes, then drained of the copious juices it evolved.

The juice was cooked down on the stove until quite thick, then added back to the peaches along with about 1 TBS of corn starch.

I must credit Rose Levy Berenbaum with the juice reduction technique; I use it on apples too, but it is almost essential to do with peaches since they put out so much juice.

Over the day, I rolled out my 1/4 puff pastry recipe into a maybe 1-1.5mm thick sheet, then chilled and cut it into small rectangular pieces. I made up a couple turnovers, but I was feeling frustrated by the small amount of fruit I could fit in these without it squishing out when I tried to seal the edges. A few other shapes were attempted; the easiest to make was a sort of peach bag; the fruit was placed in the center and the corners and edges brought together over the top. I think after baking the turnovers came out the best however.

Here is Violet spooning on the fruit.

She also cut some shapes from the scraps, baked separately on a piece of parchment.

That week we also happened to have a lot of eggs since I had checked up a couple times on my co-worker Steve's five chickens while his family was on vacation. So we made some of the eggs into a batch of pastry cream. We like lightened pastry cream, so usually I take about an equal volume of heavy cream, whip it, then combine the pastry and whipped cream to make a light, delicious, but fairly stable pastry filling. This was spooned over the top of the pastries before eating.

We had leftover pastry cream, which was eaten during the week with fruit for a few nights of dessert.

Two weeks later we had another big bowl of heavenly farm peaches, so I brought another sheet of pastry out of the freezer. Wanting to cut down on labor this time, I simply rolled it out and blind baked it in a tart pan, while simultaneously baking the peach filling in a glass pie dish.

After both were done, the pastry top was installed over the peaches, with some scraps piled on top.

 The scraps had been eaten by nibblers by the time we enjoyed this dish with some friends who joined us for dinner.

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