Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Peachy Keen - TWD Summer Galette

One of the best bits of summer is tasting a perfectly ripe peach -- biting into it and the warm juice running down my chin. It's interesting where you can get great peaches. Do you know that suburban Washington, DC has several large peach orchards (outside of Rockville, MD) or that they're grown on the western slope of the Rockies? A few crazy things you learn if you have a job like mine! For this week's TWD recipe I chose to use ripe peaches. While local peaches aren't ripe in NY's Upper Hudson Valley, I picked up some perfectly ripe Georgia peaches from a local farm store.

Making the galette dough went well. Practice makes perfect, right? So the Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough went more smoothly than it did for the blueberry pie. Duh, the secret seems to be in having just the right amount of liquid. Didn't my mother tell me that when she tried to teach me to make pie dough? With a good pie dough, putting the galette together was a breeze. I had a little leakage during baking (scraped that off the parchment paper) and only used a small portion of the custard because of the size of the fruit. Coreopsis from of my garden.

Summer Fruit Galette

From Dorie Greenspan, Baking - From My Home to Yours (NY: Houghton Miflin, 2006)

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough for a single crust, chilled
3 tablespoons of peach marmalade (from Steininger's)
2 tablespoons of crushed graham crackers
4-5 large ripe peaches (I bought 8, used 4-1/2 and ate the rest but not in one sitting)

For the custard:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted in the microwave
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Roll the pie dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper and use one of the sheets to line the baking pan. Roll the dough out into a large 1/8 inch thick circle. Use a knife to trim the dough into a 13 inch diameter circle. With a 9 inch cake pan as a template, use the tip of a blunt knife to trace a circle in the center of the dough for the area of the filling.

Using a small offset spatula, spread the marmalade over the the central circle and sprinkle the crushed graham crackers over the marmalade. The graham crackers will absorb excess moisture from the fruit. Cover the prepared dough with plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the fruit.

Blanch the peaches for 10 seconds in a pot of boiling water, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool, then slip off the skins. Halve and pit the peaches.

Arrange the peaches on the dough, cut side down, then gently lift the unfilled border of dough up and onto the filling. As you life the dough and place it on the filling, it will pleat. If possible, freeze the galette to give the crust a rest.

Brush the dough very lightly with a little water, then sprinkle it with a teaspoon or two of sugar. Bake the galette for 25 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the fruit is soft.

Meanwhile, make the custard: Whisk together the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a bowl; set aside until needed.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven (leave the oven on), and carefully pour or spoon the custard around the peaches. Depending on how much juice has accumulated and how much space you have between the fruit, you may not be able to pour all the custard in the galette, but even 2 tablespoons can give the right effect. Pour as much custard as you can, then carefully return the pan to the oven.

Bake another 12-15 minutes, or until the custard is set - it shouldn't jiggle when you gently shake the pan. Cool the galette on the baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes.

Very carefully slide a small baking sheet or cake lifter under teh galette and slip it onto a rack to cool. The galette can be served when it is just warm or when it has reach room temperature. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

TWD - I Found my Thrill on Blueberry Hill

My hostess was happy when I offered to bring the TWD blueberry pie to her July 4th celebration. The 4th was a glorious day in Saratoga Springs. The temperature was in the mid-70s and there were no clouds in the sky. I started the morning with a kayak paddle on Fish Creek (the dog went along and took a swim – amazing for a terrier), a lunch of fresh tomato sandwiches in my friend Deb’s beautiful garden and finally a late afternoon picnic dinner. It was the best 4th celebration in recent memory.

The pie was devoured by the picnickers. I added some homemade vanilla ice cream (from Dorie’s recipe) to round out the dessert. The crust recipe was more like a cookie with the abundant butter in the pie dough and although a little tricky to roll out, it held up very well. My motto that butter makes things better was especially true for the pie dough. Heck, the pie dough was good enough to eat raw -- did I mention I sampled it? With the filling, I used fresh blueberries but as suggested by other Dorettes tinkered with the bread crumbs. In my pie I substituted crushed Nilla cookies for the bread crumbs. It added some complexity of vanilla to the flavor along with the lemon zest which the picnickers really liked. I didn’t reduce the amount of sugar in the pie, just went with the cup she recommended.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

TWD - Johnny Appleseed's Finest

This week’s project was to bake Dorie’s Apple Cheddar Scones. My pantry had no dried apples and fresh apples didn’t appear to be an acceptable substitute. I picked up some beautiful fresh Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored, sliced them into thin slices and dried them on racks in a slow oven for about 6 hours. It took 2 apples to make a good half cup of dried fruit. The oven dried the apples perfectly but they were more difficult to chop into fine pieces than properly dehydrated fruit.
The recipe simply called for cheddar cheese and I chose to use an extra sharp Cabot Hunter’s cheese. The strong flavor predominated in the finished scones. The cheese over powered the dried apples unless you specifically got a slice of dried apple. The butter, as usual, made everything go down better.