The Brisbane weather has been a mite unforgiving to those of us lacking in air conditioning this summer. Most days temperatures are reaching the 30s before midday, and we’ve had almost 40 degree temperatures on a few unfortunate scorchers! I am a cold weather gal by nature, even though I grew up here in tropical Queensland, and summer is by no means my favourite time of year. There is one thing, however, that makes it all worth while: stone fruit. Gosh, do I love my summer stone fruits! Every year, as soon as January rolls around, you’ll find me at the markets searching out the most perfectly ripe and juicy specimens of peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, and anything else that comes with a stone in the middle!
Loath though I am to do anything but stand over the sink and eat one after the other until I feel sick, it would be a shame not to make use of these beautiful fruits in baking. The stone fruit family responds to heat like it’s magic. Too tart nectarines become juicily sweet, billiard ball plums become yielding and tangy, but there is one fruit in particular which absolutely sings in the heat of the oven. You guessed it, it’s the peach. Peaches at this time of year are fairly juicy and perfect, but exposed to just a brief flash in the oven, they become positively bursting with peachiness. The super-sweet almost floral taste of the peaches is complimented perfectly by a lot of different ingredients particularly dark spirits, white chocolate, or brown sugar, but in this case I couldn’t go past the classic combo of peach and almond.
So, after a very fruitful trip to the West End markets, which yielded some excellent peachy specimens, and some incredibly cheap blueberries, it was an almond tart all the way. With the weather being what it is, shortcrust pastry is not really an option at my house as butter practically melts the minute it comes out of the fridge, so I went to that trusty old standby; frozen puff pastry. Full disclosure – I used some rough puff pastry that I made earlier in the year using Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe, but it would work equally well, maybe even better, with store-bought all butter puff pastry. So, after whipping that out of the freezer, it was not much of a leap to mix up a quick almond frangipane using the rapidly softening butter from my fridge!
Once I’d slapping the defrosted pastry onto a baking paper lined tray and slathered it with my buttery, almondy sweet frangipane I lazily decided not to peel the peaches, cut them into quarters and laid them on top. A handful of blueberries was tumbled over everything, and into the oven with my exciting afternoon tea prospect! At this point, I put my hair into a bun, and sat directly in front of my one lonely pedestal fan, turned all the way up to 3 (what a rebel) and waited it out, while the oven caused my brick house to become basically a very large oven itself. What can I say? Totally worth it. The smell of this wafting out through the house was enough to make the wait bearable, and then a warm slice, topped with cold cold ice cream reminded me why summer’s not so bad after all. If only I could find a way to get stone fruits this good in winter! Oh well…
Peach, Blueberry & Almond Galette
1 sheet all butter puff pastry
60g almond meal
20g plain flour
80g vanilla sugar (or caster sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract)
50g very soft butter
1 egg (organic, if you can. free range, definitely)
4 medium sized peaches
handful of blueberries
Turn the oven on to 200C. Line a baking sheet with paper, and place the puff pastry on it to defrost. In a medium mixing bowl combine the almond meal, flour, sugar, butter and egg, and beat with a wooden spoon until completely combined. Take a fork and prick the puff pastry all over – this will stop it from rising too much in the oven. Slather the almond mixture over the pastry, leaving a small border around the edge, just under a centimetre. Slice the peaches into eighths, and arrange them on top of the almond mixture. If you find you have too many pieces, you should eat the extra ones (as if you didn’t know). Scatter some blueberries over the peaches, and then put the tart into the oven, on the middle shelf. Bake for about 30 minutes, or up to 40. If the pastry rises up too much in any area, you can stab it with a skewer or small knife and it should subside. Remove from the oven once it looks golden and lovely, and then serve it warm with some cold vanilla ice cream. It’s also lovely straight out of the fridge the next day, eaten standing up for breakfast, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.