A bowl of beautiful and fragrant yellow peaches from Dry Creek Peach and Produce were inspiring me to create a mid summer dessert. If a dessert was going to made it needed to be made fast as they were being gobbled up quickly. Especially because Dry Creek Peach and Produce farm in Healdsburg picks their peaches off the trees when ripe. So the amount of time that the peaches grace your fruit bowl is limited.
Buying fruit and vegetables direct from the farms is one of the joys of living in Sonoma County. These furry golden orbs were practically jumping into the tart crust to be baked.
My peach crisp was the recipe that was calling to me. The last time this was on a dessert menu was late summer 2000. This dessert was my mothers favorite. In the restaurant version it was a Peach and Blueberry Crisp, Blueberry Syrup and Lavender Ice Cream, garnished with fresh Lavender sprigs.
The restaurant was called Chadwick located in Beverly Hills California. Ben Ford was the chef/owner, Govind Armstrong was the chef de cuisine, and I was the pastry chef. I helped Ben open the restaurant. Chadwick Restaurant was in homage to the late Alan Chadwick, an influential educator in the field of bio dynamic/French intensive gardening. He started the garden project at UC Santa Cruz.
We were so inspired that we actually turned my mother’s backyard into an organic garden, complete with 10 raised beds made out of redwood and a drip irrigation system. We brought in organic soil and grew herbs and produce for the restaurant.We named it the Arcola Gardens.
Well…those days were fancy and now I am cooking for a much less sophisticated audience. My husband and my two boys, ages 6 and 2. So we made a simple crisp no trimmings. But please feel free to trim away. I served the peach crisp with fresh Straus Family Creamery whipped cream.
I used simple pate sucre crust, the peaches with nothing added but a squeeze of lemon, to brighten, and an oatmeal crumble topping.
First I assembled the Oatmeal Crumble Topping
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1 stick unsalted butter, cold
Cube the butter, place all ingredients in the bowl food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until thoroughly combined and chunks start to form. Chill in refrigerator while making pate sucre.
Next was the Pate Sucre, which means sweet dough. Basically it is like a pie dough with a little sugar and egg added. It is much more forgiving and I think easier than a regular pie crust. I decided to use my recipe from the Le Cordon Bleu Paris. This dough is made by hand and may seem a little challenging, but stick with it and it makes the loveliest short crust dough with such a fine crumb.
8 oz All Purpose Flour
5 oz Unsalted Butter, cold
4 oz Powdered Sugar
1 Egg, Large
Cut the cold butter into small cubes, combine by hand with the flour and powdered sugar. Form a mound on your marble slab and make a small well in the center. Add the egg and the vanilla into the well in the flour.
Slowly you begin to mix the egg, pretend you are making scrambled eggs in the middle of a pile of flour, oh yeah…and with your fingers. Sounds like fun right? Slowly begin to incorporate the flour little by little into the egg. Do not go to fast. All the flour will not incorporate into the egg. But you should egg up with about half the flour, sugar butter mixture combined and a very sticky dough forming in the center of the pile. Now the really
fun part…take the heel of your hand and press down and slide through the sticky dough out through the flour, basically mashing up the butter and turning the mixture into dough. Slide the heel of your hand through until you have pushed all the dough to one side of your work area. Using a bench scraper scrape up the dough it is probably not fully incorporated now. And repeat this process, press down with the heel of your hand and sliding the mixture across your marble slab. The dough will come together and you can create a disk and wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours before rolling out.
Too much …OK…
Here you go. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer with paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour. Do not over mix. Remove from bowl and form a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours.
For some strange reason for the first time in almost twenty years I felt inspired to make the French version…so I thought I would share.
After two hours remove dough from refrigerator.
Carefully roll dough over your rolling pin. And unroll over your tart pan of choice. Making sure not too pull too tightly. Leave yourself some wrinkles over the surface of the tart pan so you can fix and small rips or tears.
Press the dough into the tart shell and cut of any excess with a sharp paring knife. Chill tart shell in refrigerator for at least an hour before filling and baking.
Meanwhile get your peaches ready. I have made peach desserts with skin on and skin off, I guess it is a matter of preference. This time I did go ahead and peel the peaches. Easy way is to make an x cut in the bottom of the peach drop into boiling water for a few seconds, remove, let cool slightly. With a paring knife you should be able to just pull off the sections of skin. Chop…try not too eat to many…That is the hardest part…You look at your pile of peaches and think…I thought I had enough for a tart…
OK… Mise en place is ready… Another French term. Literally translated it means “your mess is in place”, but basically it is a good kitchen practice when you are making anything is to get all of your components and ingredients ready. Here’s what my Mise en Place looks like today…
Just pile up the peaches into the pate sucre tart shell and top with oatmeal crumble.
Pop into your preheated oven set to 350 degrees. Cooking time will depend on the size of your tart pan. I was using a 6-inch round and baking time was almost 40 minutes. You want the edges of the crust to be a golden brown. I bake by smell and when the butter begins to brown and the sugars begin to caramelize the smell in the kitchen changes. I can be down the block and tell you oh that tart is done!
Let cool for at least 30 minutes before trying to remove the tart ring. While cooling whip up some fresh whipped cream, sweeten if you like. Serve warm.
Thanks for reading. I think we might go apple picking soon….Harvest season is quickly approaching. Check back for more Sonoma County Farm visits, the wonderful produce we find and delicious recipes that nourish the mind, body and spirit.
Peace and blessings