The muggy days of summer are here and these are the times when turning on the oven has zero appeal. But there are wedding cupcakes to be baked and the zombie-like feeling that grips me after all is done and delivered has been bugging me for some time. Of course, this time I was blaming the heat and humidity. But just between you and me, I bet it’s the sugar that I inadvertently consume from mandatory buttercream tasting, plus who can resist a warm chocolate cupcake fresh from the oven endowed with a crisp top and gooey interior
So I’ve got the rest of the afternoon before me. Do I just sit around and waste the day away? I tried to be productive, cleaning out my pantry which was pretty easy since I do it periodically anyway, but I saw a fig confit that had a best by “August 2006” date. It’s like how the heck did that get by my past purges? I have a feeling the “Hungry” Hubby kept hiding the jar every time I do my pantry clean-up because he is such the fig fiend. This time though, I made sure it went straight to the trash bin.
Then 4pm rolled by and I still felt like I needed to get out of this funky mood. I think another reason is, it’s Sunday – the day when everybody dreads going back to work, the end of the weekend. I wanted some kind of dessert to sweeten my spirits (and probably crash it again after a sugar high), but I couldn’t take another cupcake today.
When Helen was here, we whipped out one dessert after another and I realized that the hardest part was getting started and everything else gets easier from there.
So without debating any longer, I took out the flour, butter and salt. I decided I wanted to make rough-puff pastry for a peach tart! Inspiration for this came from a life-altering dessert from this restaurant. A simple apple tart over puff pastry that got everything right: a light airy and crisp crust, tender slices of apple spiced expertly with cinnamon and sugar, and a velvety glaze that rounded everything out in an ethereal delectable halo.
But apples seemed out of place in this depressing humid weather, what about tree-ripened peaches instead?
Rough Puff Pastry
adapted from Michel Roux courtesy of Tartelette
2 1/4 cups (300gr) all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup (300gr) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon (3gr) salt
1/2 cup (125ml) ice-cold water
Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the butter and salt right in the well and work them together with the flour, using your fingertips, gradually drawing in more flour into the center. When the butter pieces have reached pea sized pieces and the mixture appears grainy, gradually add the ice water and mix until it is all incorporated. Do not overwork the dough. Roll it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.
On a lightly flour work area, roll the dough to an 8×4-inch rectangle. Fold it into three and give it a quarter turn. Roll it into another 8×4-inch rectangle again and fold it in three again. These are the first 2 turns. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate again for 30 minutes.
Give the chilled dough 2 more turns, rolling and folding as previously described. The pastry is ready then. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
adapted from Inn At Little Washington by Patrick O’ Connell
3 tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbs. heavy cream
6 tbs. Southern Comfort
1/3 cup sugar combined with 1 rounded tsp. cinnamon
Take out enough puff pastry to roll out to 1/8 inch thick and cut out 6 4-inch circles. (You can refrigerate left-over puff pastry for 3 days or freeze for a month.)Lay on baking sheet lined with parchment, dock each circle 5 times with a fork and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
Cut peaches, 1/8 inches thick. In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the peaches and cook for several minutes. Add the cinnamon and cream. Carefully add the Southern Comfort, averting your face, as it will ignite. Continue cooking until the peaches are soft and pliable. Remove the peaches and transfer to a plate and cool in refrigerator. Simmer the cooking liquid until reduced in half, set aside as you will use this to glaze the tarts after they come out of the oven.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Remove pastry rounds from refrigerator. Arrange peach slices in concentric circle. Dust the tarts with cinnamon sugar and bake for about 15-20 minutes until crust is brown. Remove the tarts from the oven and brush with reserved cooking liquid.
I was surprised how easy it was to make a spur of the moment dessert with rough puff pastry. I had dessert on the table by 7:30 pm. I had no plans of blogging about this initially, since this was an experiment (and I was not sure if I measured the butter right – sorry Helen) but noticing how fast HH ate his peach tart and announced he was having a second one, I knew I was on to something here.
The instruction says to dust the tart with cinnamon sugar but believe me you want to be liberal with it.
I still have to learn how to poach fruit slices properly so I don’t mangle them into sorry looking pieces. It would be nice to have a nice swirl on top of the puff pastry – mine didn’t quite turn out that way. Me and fruit – we don’t like each other much, but learning to handle them in all stages of cooking will be a mission of mine this year. I’d like to thank HH for doing the flambé for me as I chickened out on this one. I also think I’m going to bake the tart at 400F next time so the crust will be a dark golden brown.
When I took the first bite into the peach tart, I understood why HH wanted a second piece. The pastry was so crisp and the peach slices had transformed into a wonderful blend of tart and sweet that it did not feel heavy at all on your palate and well – makes you want more. My only regret was that we did not have any ice cream to go with it. And it did succeed in lifting me out of the doldrums!
I have a feeling that this dessert will be a favorite in our house and I’m looking forward to trying this with different types of fruit!