MTL

I’m posting this from the internet void… Spooky, huh?
Well, actually, I am just in Montreal, for the weekend.
(It’s still my summer, ok?  I can do what I want on a whim.  Labor Day be damned.)
But I didn’t want to leave you guys with that last post, which didn’t even have a recipe (the nerve!) for the next few days or so.
Thus, I am here.  Sort of.  Here in spirit.
I love writing posts ahead of time and then scheduling them.
I usually forget about them… but then, when I come back to blogger, it’s like I gave myself a gift!
Surprise!!!
The Blog Fairy came and left you a nice little Post Present!
I’m going to do another (shorter) link-peppered post.
Similar to this one, but more rushed and with fewer links.
Sounds great, right?  Let’s get into it then!
 
I’ve just started reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.
(The books are gigantic.  Holy mackerel!)
Obviously, I’ve watched all the seasons of the HBO show, which I am completely obsessed with (currently rewatching season 2), but now I’m getting into the books.
Mostly because I’m impatient and greedy, and waiting until next year to find out what happens next will literally kill me.
 
Speaking of literally, they augmented the definition in Merriam-Webster.
Now, literally means literally, as well as virtually.
Which doesn’t make much sense, but whatever.
I have listened to this poem about OCD around 50 times.  
No, I’m not joking.  It moves me.  I cry every other time.  It’s haunting.
 
Have you heard this remake of Miley’s song?  
It makes me actually like the darn song, and not be afraid to admit it.
Soooo good.  On repeat.
 
How about this parody of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video?
I’m literally dead from laughing and smiling so hard.
Go, girls!
 
I’ve lost/misplaced one of my camera lenses.
I’m worried I did something like Heather did!
(How crazy is it that that post is from 3 years ago?!  I remember when she first posted that…  Yes, I have stalked her blog for that long.)
Speaking of SprinkleBakes, did you see these cookies?
OHMAGAH.
This tart was inspired by the 8-inch cast iron pan I found at an antique store the other day.
Up in the attic, they had hundreds of antique cast iron pans.  
Since I’m wistful that I don’t have a cast iron pan handed down for generations (I don’t even get a wok.  Like, come on.), I of course snatched one up.
It didn’t need much seasoning; I cleaned it with a little bit of vinegar/water, then rubbed it with coconut oil and set it in a hot oven briefly.
I then recoated it in more coconut oil, and made this crostata/tart/galette.
 
It’s a buttery shell filled with sweet-tart Italian prune plums, which I topped with lemon thyme infused sugar.
It’s divine still-warm (or reheated), topped with a fat dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.
Italian Prune Plum Galette
ingredients:
1 pound Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour
8 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
big pinch salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
directions:
Cube the butter into tiny pieces.
Toss with the flour, sugar, and salt, and then smash all the little cubes with your fingers, kneading and tossing all the while.
Once they are the size of peas and smaller, switch to stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add in the buttermilk and stir until dough comes together.
Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead once or twice.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease an 8-inch pan, or prepare a sheet pan with parchment.
Roll out the dough and place it in the pan.
Arrange the plums on top, and sprinkle them with 3 tablespoons sugar.
Fold the dough over the plums, and bake until golden and bubbling, about 45 minutes in a cast-iron pan.
Enjoy while warm!

Pudd’nhead

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.”
-Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson
I have bad news.
I did that thing I do again.
That thing that I do that makes no sense.
I scratched my compulsive, everything-from-scratch itch again.
I made bread- but not just any bread, a very involved, intricate, fussy, time-consuming bread.
Then, I chopped it up and made bread pudding.
I know.  I think I’m crazy, too.
But this bread… Oh, this bread.
Soft, fluffy, snowy white.
Yes, white bread.  Even though I’m a nuts-and-seeds, whole-food, whole-grain, fermented, brown, brown, brown bread type of girl, I love white bread.
We all do.  I refuse to hear otherwise.
Think about it… crispy, crackly baguettes, eggy challah, white sourdough boules…
White bread is great, occasionally.
Now is one of those occasions.

I baked this bread following instructions at Kirbie’s Cravings.
She adapted it from a cookbook, 65 Degrees, which outlines the Tangzhong method of making bread.
This is a Japanese-style Hokkaido bread, which is a milk, butter, and cream enriched dough.
In my experience, enriched yeast doughs need a little more care to ensure they come out perfectly.
Her instructions could not be any better, so I’ll send you there if you’d like to try the bread.
I highly recommend it.
(You will need a scale.)

I halved the recipe so I would only get 1 loaf, but found myself regretting that we didn’t have two loaves.  
The tangzhong paste is sort of like a bread enhancer/saver, so it will last a bit longer than other homemade breads, another reason to make two loaves.

Here’s the link:

Kirbie’s Cravings’ Hokkaido Milk Toast

(Thanks so much, Kirbie!!)

Some tips that I learned while making this bread:
The tangzhong cooks very quickly, so stay near it while it cooks.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and let the dough knead the entire time: due to the enriched nature of the dough, the gluten development is slightly inhibited (the butter, cream, egg, and milk make it difficult for the gluten to form) and needs a long kneading period.
Your dough needs to pass the membrane/windowpane test, which Kirbie describes perfectly.  She even provides pictures.
Now, these bread puddings:
you should eat them warm, with a dollop of cold, freshly whipped cream.
The chocolate is melty, the plums are fall-apart tender and tart.
The top of the bread is crunchy and the underside is custardy.
 
Bread pudding is a fall dessert.  
This bread pudding showcases the best of late summer: plums.
They’re roasted until bubbling and syrupy, then cut into small pieces and layered among fluffy bread cubes and dark chocolate chips, then smothered in custard and baked, again, until bubbling.
The juices pour down the sides as the puddings puff up; when you pull them out of the oven they will deflate a bit, but the result of the deflation is a lovely, dense custard, filled with goodies.
 
You could make these with any white bread: challah, sourdough, sandwich, brioche… just cut the crusts off.
Or, you could make them with Hokkaido milk toast… Which obviously I highly recommend.
 
P.S. Heat any leftovers (what’s a leftover) in the microwave for 20 seconds, so they warm up again.  They’ll taste like they’re straight out of the oven.

Roasted Plum and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
makes 4 small ramekins, easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled
ingredients:
2 plums or pluots
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 1/2 inch thick slices of brioche, challah, or sourdough, crusts removed and cubed
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped
pinch of cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons large chocolate chunks or chips
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
whipped cream, for serving (optional)
directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Halve and pit the plums and place in a baking dish.  
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar and bake until syrupy and soft, 12-15 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Whisk egg, milk, and 3 tablespoons sugar together with the scrapings of 1/2 a vanilla bean and a pinch of cinnamon.
Lay bread cubes over the bottom of each ramekin and place a few chocolate chips over that layer.
Cube the cooled plums; place a thick layer of plums over the first bread layer, about 1/2 plum per ramekin.  
Top with the remaining bread cubes and chocolate chips.
Pour 1/4 of the egg mixture over each dish, then sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar.
Bake until puffed, golden, and juices overflowing, about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly; serve warm with whipped cream.

Early Golden

 
These plums are so juicy sweet.
Out of this world juicy sweet.
 
My mama and I went fruit picking this morning.
It was the perfect day- breezy, sunny but slightly cloudy, and warm without being overbearing.
We returned a few hours later with two quarts of sour cherries, two quarts of delicate raspberries, a 1/2 peck of peach “seconds” and a quart of yellow summer plums.
Quite a haul.
(We only picked the raspberries and cherries, though.  Cheaters.)
 
 
We quickly threw the raspberries in a pot with some turbinado sugar and honey, something that was to become a jam, but, upon realizing that we could not for the life of us find that damn pectin, would have to be a thickened compote.
Oh well- I shall eat it swirled into thick, creamy Greek yogurt with hazelnuts and flax seeds.
A fine breakfast, if you ask me!
Then, we picked over the cherries and threw them in a pot with sugar and a spent vanilla bean.
 
I took charge of the plums.
After hastily eating 3, I decided to bake them into a quick cake.
This whole thing took, start to finish, about 45 minutes.  
I swirled some (measurements are not precise, here, people: I free pour.  Sorry.) maple syrup, honey, and a little nub of butter together, then nestled the plums among it.
I topped it with a quickly thrown together almond-olive oil cake batter.
 
The most wondrous thing happens with upside-down cakes: the caramel-syrup mixture melts into the fruit, creating jammy little pockets of heaven, and the cake, while crisp at the very top, absorbs some of the fruity, maple-honey syrup and becomes wonderfully perfumed.
 
These plums (called Early Goldens) turned from a pale yellow to an apricot orange.
The almond and vanilla pair just beautifully with these sweet little nuggets of summer.
If you can get your hands on some fresh, sweet stone fruit- I would suggest pluots or plums- make this cake.
It’s quick, moderately healthy, and delicious!
 
 
Psst… It’s also naturally gluten-free!
 
Upside-down Plum Cake
cake proportions adapted from Comfy Belly
ingredients:
8 small plums, halved and pitted
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter
pinch sea salt
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
scrapings of 1/2 a vanilla bean
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil (I used olive)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine 1/3 cup honey, maple syrup, butter, and sea salt in a small pot and bring to a boil.
Pour into the bottom of an 8×8 pan.
Arrange the plums in the syrup mixture.
Make the cake: whisk almond flour, baking soda, salt, and vanilla scrapings.
Make a well and add the honey, olive oil, vinegar, and eggs into the center.
Whisk the entire batter together and then spread over the plums.
Bake until the top is deeply tanned and a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool, then slide a knife around the edge and invert onto a serving platter.
 

I Do My Best

 … to keep it 100.
 
Guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
^100 exclamation marks.
 
^100 slices of stone fruit.
(Okay, it’s 97.  But I’m the only one crazy enough to count.)
 
100 posts.
That’s right! This little blog isn’t so little anymore.
*sniff*
 
It’s hard for me to believe that “Caramel Craze and Memorial Daze” was 100 posts ago!
 
We’ve covered cakes, pies, tarts, ice cream, molecular experiments, cupcakes, candy, heartbreaks, birthdays, celebrations, and goodbyes.
But what better way to celebrate this milestone than with peaches and pastry, two of my greatest loves.
In case it has escaped you, this blog is named after a peach.
Why?  I dunno.  It rhymes.
Just kidding.  It’s because I love stone fruits.
Plums, apricots, cherries, peaches, and all the variations.
The appearance of local stone fruits is always an indicator of summer, one that leaves me with drool juice dripping down my chin and a big smile perched right above.
 
I eat summer fruit like it’s my job.  It pretty much is my job.
The other day, I had a bowl of yogurt with a maple-nutmeg-strawberry-rhubarb compote, an apricot, a plum, and a peach.
I could eat our entire farmer’s market. 
Remember how I said that those patriotic shortcakes were devastatingly summery?
Well this tart goes above and beyond those lil biscuits.  
Just looking at it wraps me up in summer like a towel warmed by the sun after a bracingly cold dip in the lake.
 
A truly simple summer dessert, the star here is the fruit, so be sure to choose ripe, fragrant ones.
You can use any combination of stone fruits here; use whatever looks, smells, and feels best in your area.
A ripe stone fruit should be very fragrant- floral and a touch almond-y- should yield slightly to gentle pressure, and should separate from its pit quite effortlessly.  
If you struggle to pull the pit from your first peach while making this recipe, put it off for a few days.  
Put your fruit in a brown bag with a banana, which gives off copious amounts of ethylene, the fruit ripening hormone.
The crust will wait patiently in the freezer (wrap it well in aluminum foil) for the leading lords and ladies to take the stage.
I chose plums, peaches, and apricots because I wanted to showcase as many stone fruits as I possibly could, and I love the way their juices bleed colors into one another.
They all bring a certain flavor to the party: peaches are floral and fresh, plums are tart and crisp, and apricots are sweet and velvety.
In addition, all three work marvelously with almond, thanks to the noyaux in their pits.
I refurbished my favorite pâte sucrée to include plenty of almond meal; enough that you can taste it in the crust.
I also added a fine dusting of a buttery crumb with sugar and almond; it coaxes more flavor out of the fruit without overpowering the tart.
 
A note about the crust and the weather: in humid weather, tart crusts absorb moisture quickly.  
They will be no less delicious, but markedly softer after a few hours in a humid and hot environment.  If this is an issue, I suspect that storing the tarts in a refrigerator would help to diminish the softening.
Serve this tart with the simplest vanilla ice cream (recipe below).
Seriously, simplest ever!
Make it with cold half and half and it literally takes 3 minutes to put together, plus the 20 minutes for churning.
No eggs, no cooking, just cold, creamy, vanilla goodness.
It’s homemade ice cream for us impatient folks with a warm tart that needs accompaniment! 
So, in conclusion, this peach grows!
And may it continue.
Once again, a shout out to you, my readers.
You rock.
 
P.S. I typed this with 9 fingers, which is surprisingly difficult as a touch typer who is accustomed to going a mile a minute.
RIP finger.
*sniff*

Simplest Stone Fruit Tart
Makes 1 11-inch plus 2 4-inch tarts
ingredients:
16 tablespoons (8 ounces, 2 sticks) butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour (sub AP or whole wheat)
1/2 cup almond flour/meal
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons almond flour
pinch salt
1 tablespoon softened butter
thinly sliced peaches, plums, and apricots (I used 3 yellow plums, 2 apricots, and 3 peaches)
directions:
Cream butter, sugar, and salt together on high for 5 minutes (if butter is softened, cream for 3 minutes; if it’s cold, 5), until fluffy, pale, and shiny.
Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add in the flours and mix until almost entirely combined.
Add the egg yolks and mix until completely homogeneous.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes and up to a day.
Roll out your dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and place in pan.
Alternately, press dough into pan.
Prick all over with a fork and freeze for at least 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons almond flour, and a pinch of salt.  
Using the back of a spoon, smush the tablespoon of softened butter into the dry mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Remove your crusts from the freezer and arrange your fruit.
Sprinkle the fruit with the sugar mixture, sparingly if you want your design to show through.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the fruit is juicy and the crust is golden. 
Serve with the simplest vanilla ice cream, below.
 
Simplest Vanilla Ice Cream
ingredients:
1 3/4 cup half and half, cold
1/4 plus 2 tablespoons sugar
pinch sea salt
1/2 a vanilla bean
directions:
In a blender or with an immersion blender (shudder), blend all ingredients together until the vanilla bean is in tiny chunks.
Churn in an ice cream maker.

Stoned

I’m referring to stoned fruits, of course: those token fruits of summer.  Juicy, sweet, ripe peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, and apricots.

Now that summer has started and these fruits abound, I’m in heaven.  Seriously.  There is nothing better on a summer morning than some plain Greek yogurt with a sliced up white peach.  
Summer is a fruit lover’s dream.  Go to your local farmer’s market and take a look around: you’re sure to find some amazing fruits, right along with the towering piles of garlic scapes and swiss chard.  The other weekend, I picked up some beautiful red and green gooseberries and long, slender stalks of rhubarb, which I combined into an olive/pumpkin seed oil-polenta crumble.  It was divine… In fact, it was gone too quickly for me to photograph (ugh), but I’ll share the recipe anyways.  It’s a keeper, for those times when you might have some gooseberries and rhubarb lying around… Actually, it might be worth seeking out these seemingly esoteric ingredients.  Inquire around your local market, I’m sure you can get your greedy paws hands on some.
As for the tart(s) that are in the photos, they were quick almond-plum-nectarine tarts that I whipped up for a dinner guest.  Slightly sweet chantilly topped them off for a perfectly light summer dessert.  I was lucky that I took photos of them that very night, because the next morning not a crumb was left.  

Other than the aforementioned stone fruits, I’m looking forward to a summer bounty of beets, kale, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, spicy carrots, an overwhelming amount of zucchini, melons, peppers, and squash.  I’m always somewhat surprised when I’m reminded of how bountiful the region where I live really is;  I’m always reminded to be thankful.  What are you looking forward to in your CSA baskets, grocery shopping carts, or gardens this summer?

Gooseberry, Rhubarb, and Polenta Crumble
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups red and green gooseberries
6 small stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch long pieces
2/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 cup stone-ground polenta
1/4 cup cornmeal
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup+ oil (I used pumpkin seed and olive oil, and ended up needing just a splash more)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Toss the gooseberries and rhubarb with 1/3 cup turbinado sugar in an oven-proof dish.  Put them in the oven while you prepare the crumble.  Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and cornmeals in a bowl.  While stirring, add in the oil until the mixture comes together and has a texture like wettish sand.  Pull the fruit out of the oven and top with the crumble.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling at the sides and the crumble is slightly crisp.

Nectarine and Plum Almond Tart
Bits and pieces from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking
Ingredients:
1 recipe tart dough
4 ripe nectarines
3 ripe plums
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup blanched, ground almonds
2 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 egg
splash vanilla extract
tiny splash almond extract
Directions:
Press your tart dough into your pan , prick with a fork, line with buttered foil, shiny side down, and freeze.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake tart dough for 15 minutes.  Pulse the butter and sugar in a food processor until the mixture is smooth.  Add the almonds, flour, and cornstarch and process, then add the egg.  Add the extracts and process for just 15 seconds.  Refrigerate.  Slice up your plums and nectarines into thin slices.  Remove the foil from the shells, pour in the almond cream, and arrange the slices as you desire.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the almond cream has puffed up and become golden brown.  Let cool in pan, then remove to serve.  Serve with fresh chantilly if desired (whip cream with a touch of confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form).