I’m living in a kind of peach frenzy.
Peaches and ricotta for breakfast. Baked peaches blanketed with pastry cream. Peach sorbetto. Peach tart in a sweet cookie crust.
Pondering how long my supplies will last, I just spoke on the phone to the friendly clerk at Bechtold’s Orchard in Bucks County, PA. She said peaches will be available for about one more week. O-N-E week? Sadly, the days of peaches dwindle down to a precious few.
Like a squirrel frantically stashing nuts for the bleak days to come, I’m stockpiling peaches in my freezer. It’s easy enough to do. Submerge the ripe but firm peaches in a pot of boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a big bowl of ice water.
Start peeling with a sharp paring knife at the stem end and the skin slips off as easily as a satin robe gliding off the shoulder of a 1930s glamour queen. Halve or quarter the peaches and lay them on a tray lined with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for a day and then pack the frozen peaches into a resealable plastic freezer bag or plastic freezer container.
And, while you still have the chance, you can bake a homey Italian peach tart with the following recipe. It’s sweetened with fruit preserves to intensify the flavor of the fresh fruit filling. Sometimes I replace half the preserves with ginger-peach chutney from Tait Farm Foods in Centre Hall, PA. It makes a sweet, slightly hot filling that’s bliss.
Pasta frolla—sweet, tender pastry dough—is easy to prepare. Although it’s primarily a pastry used to line tart shells, sweet pastry dough resembles cookie dough more closely than it does flaky pie crust. The relatively high proportion of butter to flour—in combination with eggs yolks and sugar—ensures a tender result so you don’t have to worry about over-handling the dough.
Torta di Pesche
1 recipe Sweet Pastry Dough (follows)
1 cup peach or apricot preserves
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 to 4 ripe but firm peaches (1 to 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and sliced
1 egg white (reserved from crust) beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar
Coat a 10-inch fluted removeable bottom tart pan or springform pan with no-stick spray.
Prepare the dough, reserving 1 egg white. Cut off one-third of the dough. Pat into a disk; refrigerate for 10 minutes. Pat the remaining dough over the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the side of the pan. Prick all over with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll the refrigerated dough between two sheets of floured waxed paper into a 10-inch circle. Slide the waxed paper onto a baking sheet; refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a bowl, mix the preserves and cornstarch. Gently stir in the peaches.
Remove the pan and the dough circle from the refrigerator. Place the pan on a heavy baking sheet. Spoon the fruit mixture into the pan. Carefully lay the dough circle over the peaches. If it breaks, simply pick up the broken pieces with a spatula and lay them into place. They will melt into each other during baking. Brush the top with the egg white mixture. Sprinkle the entire surface with sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the juices bubble clear in the center and the top is browned. Remove to a rack to cool for several hours.
Vanilla ice cream or lightly-sweetened whipped cream makes a lovely addition to this dessert.
Makes 8 servings
Sweet Pastry Dough
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
2 egg yolks, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Process to mix. Add the butter. Pulse 12 to 15 times to incorporate. With the machine running, drizzle in the egg yolk mixture. Turn off the machine. Pulse 6 times. The mixture will look crumbly. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface. With hands and a dough scraper, work the mixture into a smooth disk.
Makes one 10-inch round crust with top crust or lattice