Now that the weather is warmer it reminds me that it is juicy stone-fruit season. And gosh, you just have to love our area’s weather in May. That is, as long as it isn’t muggy, rainy or foggy … I love that not many mosquitoes are buzzing and biting, humidity is practically nonexistent, and you can watch the sunrise over the lake without breaking a sweat yet. All of this makes me want to buy peaches – fresh, juicy, organic free-stone peaches. I have tried those white peaches and they are not to my liking. But seriously, which is better and why?
Actually, I think that if I’ m cooking or baking them, they are both pretty much the same, but if I am eating a fresh peach, you know the one that has so much juice that when you bite into it the juices run down your arm and you end up a bit sticky but you really don’t care? That’s the one I want, and for me it is the peachy, yellowish, rosy-colored one. Sometime you may see “donut” peaches in the produce department. They usually won’t be available until August, but look for them. They are a bit weird looking, kind of like a donut, but boy! They are really sweet!
I know I have shared information and peach recipes with you before. Well, I’m going to shake it up a bit; here is an easy dessert to make and the crust is effortless. No two will be exactly alike in appearance, and it has a rustic look when the edges are just folded up and baked on a sheet pan. The uniqueness of the free- form dessert makes it a real scene stealer at a dessert buffet or potluck dinner.
Easy Fresh Peach Crostata
Pillsbury ready-made piecrust dough (uncooked), enough for a 9-inch pie pan
4-5 large peaches, thinly sliced
2/3 cup blueberries (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 whole egg, beaten
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the uncooked pie dough onto the baking sheet. In a bowl, mix peaches, blueberries, sugar and flour together. Pour mixture into the center of the pastry round, leaving about 2 1/2 inches around the edge. Fold up the edge of the pastry dough over the filling to make a 2- to 3-inch rim. Brush pastry with the beaten egg and place a pat of butter on top of the fruit mixture. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Cool the crostata on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
Well … I can’t leave well enough alone, so here is my Greek phyllo-crust version.
Greek Phyllo Crostata
5 peaches, sliced into 1/4 inch slices (about 5 cups)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups ground almonds
5 tablespoons flour
1 package frozen phyllo, thawed in the box
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
2-3 tablespoons of powdered sugar for sprinkling on top
Make the vanilla peaches by placing them in a large saucepan over medium heat with the extract and honey; stir. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until peaches have softened. Remove from heat and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and mascarpone until creamy. Add sugar and mix well. Add ground almonds and beat until well blended. Fold in flour, then add eggs one at a time, beating well. Place in the refrigerator as you make the crust with the phyllo pastry. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the melted butter and olive oil together. Using a pastry brush, brush a little of the butter/oil mixture into an 8-9 inch non-stick, springform pan with removable bottom. Remove the phyllo from the carton, open it up and cover it with a linen towel; this will keep it from drying out. Brush one phyllo sheet with melted butter/oil and place in springform pan; make sure the phyllo sheet is overlapping over the sides of pan. Repeat with seven more phyllo sheets. Add almond cream inside phyllo and spread out evenly. Spread 2 tablespoons of the toasted almonds on top of the almond cream and then top with peaches and their juice. Make sure the sides of the phyllo are now folded over the peaches. Layer five more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with melted butter/oil. Bake for 1 hour or until phyllo is a light golden color. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before taking it out of the pan. Place on plate and sprinkle powdered sugar and remaining almonds on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.