Monday, August 26, 2013

Free-form Peach Tart

I try to make a stone fruit tart or pie at least once each summer. It's hard not to with the variety of fruit available. 

This kind of tart is really quite simple to make, and is a good option when you have little time and a lot of people to feed. You can make it ahead of time; it tastes great at room temperature, and cold from the fridge, and warm from the oven. 

I made this tart for a family dinner party a couple of weeks ago. We served it with cream and it was a big hit. Only one teeny tiny slice was left over. I hid it in a corner of the fridge and ate it the next day, before dinner, with warm custard. I didn't have any ice-cream but a scoop of vanilla would be have been perfect too.

The best thing about it is that it's no fuss. It definitely doesn't have to be perfect. Roll the pastry out into a circle, a square, an oval, invent your own shape. Whatever.

I didn't bother peeling the peaches. Slice the fruit, toss it with sugar and flour, pile it messily on top of the pastry and bang it in the oven to bake. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. (Don't think I've used that phrase since I was six years old!)

I made one a while ago with apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums. Despite the tart being some shape that was a cross between a circle and an oval, it was delicious and looked beautiful studded with dark cherries and dusted with icing sugar. I don't have any photos of that tart though because my computer crashed and I lost most of my food photos, so you'll just have to take my word for it...

And don't be intimated by the pastry; that's easy peasy too.

Shortcrust pastry
4 oz cold butter, cut into cubes
1¼ cups plain flour
2 to 4 tablespoons cold water
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar (optional)

Stone fruit filling
700g to 750g peaches, white or yellow (or assorted stone fruit such as apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums)
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon flour

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
2. In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, butter, and sugar, if using.

3. With the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, until it starts to look crumbly.

4. Add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, and mix with your hands until the pastry starts to come together. (Don't be tempted to add too much water; 2 to 3 tablespoons should be enough. It may seem like the pastry is too crumbly and dry when you add the water but as you form it into a ball with your hands, your body heat will start to melt the butter and the pastry will eventually come together.) Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film. Refrigerate the pastry for at least 30 minutes to allow it to rest.
5. Meanwhile, halve the peaches, removes the stones, and slice each half into 6 to 8 slices.
6. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a greased sheet of wax paper. Flatten the pastry with your palm...

... dust with flour, and then roll it out to any shape you want.

7. Transfer the wax paper sheet with the rolled-out pastry onto a greased baking tray.

8. Mix the sliced peaches with the sugar and flour, then pile the fruit into the centre of the pastry, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border.

9. Fold the edges of the pastry over the fruit.

10. Brush the beaten egg over the pastry with a pastry brush.
11. Place the tart in the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through and golden brown.
12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

[July] Blueberry, Almond, and Poppy Seed Cantuccini

First Blogger wasn't working...

... and then my computer crashed!

I managed to transfer these photos before it completely died on me, so here's July's biscotti recipe.

The recipe comes from Leela Cyd's beautiful blog tea cup tea; I discovered it through Saveur a few months ago and it instantly became a favourite.

Recently, I have vicariously been experiencing Europe through her gorgeous photos of Portugal and Italy (browse through her travel posts here).

Another way I benefited from Leela's travels: her recipe for Blueberry, Almond & Ginger Cantuccini. Cantuccini, I have learned, is similar to biscotti but there's a slightly different technique involved resulting in a bit of a different texture too. The egg whites are beaten with the sugar like meringue and then the yolks and other ingredients are mixed in.

I've adapted the recipe slightly; mostly by eliminating ingredients I didn't have (agave) or didn't want to use (ginger).

I sliced mine at a very sharp angle which resulted in jumbo-size biscotti, so I suggest you slice yours at a larger angle if you choose to slice diagonally. Otherwise, just slice straight across.

Blueberry, Almond, and Poppy Seed Cantuccini

adapted from Leela Cyd

2 egg whites
200g sugar
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla
250g flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
75g dried blueberries
100g almonds
3 tbs (blue) poppy seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. In a large clean bowl, add the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes (the whites will form tiny bubbles and increase in volume as you beat them).
  3. Add the sugar to the egg whites and beat for another 2 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy.
  4. In a separate small bowl, mix together the yolks and vanilla.
  5. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the white mixture.
  6. Sift together the flour and baking powder, stir in the salt, and carefully fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
  7. Add the blueberries, almonds, and poppy seeds and gently fold in.
  8. Grease a baking tray with veg table oil and line with wax paper or a Silpat, then lightly grease the wax paper or Silpat.. 
  9. Divide the dough into two parts and place on the baking tray. Shape each half into a log, about 3 inches wide, 1 inch high and 8 inches long.
  10. Bake the logs at 350for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Turn the oven temperature down to 300F (150C).
  12. When the logs have cooled, cut each log into ¾- to 1-inch slices, either at a slight angle or straight across.
  13. Place the cantuccini back on the baking tray, cut side down, and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the cantuccini over onto their other side and bake for another 20 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  15. Store in an airtight jar.