Biting into a juicy peach inevitably brings me right back to memories of driving up to Lake Tahoe in hot summer months. If we could spare the time for the scenic route, we would stop at this iconic roadside farm stand on our way up through the Sacramento valley. Hopping out into the dusty parking lot, we’d find refuge from the heat under the shady eaves spraying mist overhead, and under which were featured impressive piles of white and yellow peaches, nectarines, and apricots, boxes of deep red cherries, and candy-sweet strawberries. We’d always buy a big flat of peaches to bring with us, for future pie-baking during barbeques overlooking the lake. None of us could resist, however, devouring one right then and there, our hands sticky no matter how careful we tried to be.
What I love about peaches is that they are deceptively versatile. Obviously there are the classics like peach pie, cobbler, and crisp, but they also make great additions to salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, and salsa. As I mentioned in my last post, the spring has been drizzly, which always inspires visions of hot tea and curling-up to watch British procedurals or bake-off. And so today brings us to peaches & cream scones, named after the fresh peaches and yogurt used to make these beautifully soft on the inside and golden-brown on the outside. Peach chunks are worked into the dough along with peach puree. Today I used white peaches, which tend to be even more sweet than their yellow counterparts, but you could use any variety of stone fruit you wished in this recipe (peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, plums, even mango!).
The key to successful scones is to keep the dough cold so that when they bake, they do not get too melty or out of shape. The secret to this is frozen, grated butter, and using your fridge to keep things cold as you move through the recipe. If you remember to put the butter in the freezer at least the day before, this whole recipe comes together very quickly and could be made the morning of a brunch or Midsommer Murder marathon.
PEACHES & CREAM SCONES
Makes 8 large scones
1 cube of butter (1/2 cup) frozen overnight
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar (may reduce for a less sweet scone – especially if your fruit is already very sweet)
2 1/2 tsps of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 very ripe peach, removed from pit and pureed in a blender
3 ripe, but firm peaches cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup greek yogurt (plain)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2-3 Tbps of milk as needed
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)
2 tsps milk or lemon juice (optional)
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together with a whisk. Set aside.
Using a box grater, grate frozen butter. Add grated butter into dry ingredient and work into a fine crumb mixture using your hands, pastry cutter, or two forks. The mixture will still be very dry, resembling course sand. Place bowl in refrigerator while mixing wet ingredients.
In a small bowl, mix the peach puree, yogurt, and zest together using a fork or whisk. Add these ingredients to the dry and begin to just bring together.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Add the peach chunks to the dough. Bring dough together using your hands. Depending on how juicy your peaches are, you may need to add milk a tablespoon at a time. The dough should be sticky, but not wet. Do not overwork the dough, work it just as much as it needs to come together in a disc without any dry flour spots. Form into a disk about 12 inches in diameter. Cut into 8 equal slices (like a pizza). Transfer onto a baking sheet and put into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Preheat the over to 400 degrees. After the scones have chilled, bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown and crust has formed on the bottom. Allow to cool 5 minutes before adding topping.
Optional: Mix the powdered sugar and milk (or lemon juice) together in a small bowl and use a spoon or whisk to drizzle over the scones. Serve warm or room temperature, and with tea of course!
Vegan creamy pistachio pudding pie with raspberry compote and chocolate crust
I was watching Everybody Feed Phil (recommend if you like watching someone eat with unbridled joy), and they went to a pie shop in Chicago where they were served a pistachio pie with berries. I immediately started searching for a recipe, only to discover that making a pistachio flavored pie is no easy feat. Do you make a custard pie? An ice-cream pie? How do you get the green color bright enough and also get that authentic pistachio flavor going? I looked through dozens of recipes for inspiration before deciding that I was just going to have to experiment with it to find my answer. The idea of making a vegan pie using coconut products was really appealing since the flavor of pistachio, raspberries, chocolate, and coconut just sounded divine.
The answer to the pistachio flavoring (at least what I came up with), is a super pure, finely ground pistachio paste. You can make this yourself if you own a food processor. Taking raw pistachios, you boil them for no more than a minute, then shock them in an ice bath. Next, you must painstakingly remove the skins of each pistachio (or you can decide to skip this step – honestly I’m not sure how big of a difference it really made). Now grind all the nuts, nothing added, using a processor until a sticky, fine paste forms. This is the gold that will give the pudding a green tint and infuse the pistachio flavor.
You can make this recipe with any berry you think would pair well. But there is something about the slight sourness of raspberries that just makes this pie sing. I made a compote of frozen (yes! frozen!) raspberries, which kind of pulled all the flavors together. I intended the compote as a topping for each slice of pie, but in hindsight, I think it would have been even better to swirl the compote into the pudding before completely set.
Although it has many parts, each part is not too complicated with only a few ingredients and typically 1 bowl or pot. This pie is best allowed to set overnight – so make sure you plan ahead so you prepare your tastebuds to be left hanging until the morning. All in all this pie is a great, lighter-tasting pie that is perfect for a spring celebration with its beautiful green hue.
PISTACHIO PUDDING PIE
with raspberry compote and chocolate crust
Prep tip: For the pie filling, you will need a can of coconut cream left in the refrigerator overnight.
8oz raw pistachios (de-shelled)
You can either buy this or make it yourself if you have a food processor. Boil the pistachios for 1 min and then immediately “shock” them by putting in an ice bath (cold water with ice).
Peel the skins off of the pistachios using your thumb and 1st finger to pinch the nut and then applying pressure so that the nut slips out of its skin. You can also choose to skip this step (may effect final color).
Grid the pistachios in a food processor until a paste forms. The final product should be a little sticky and finely ground. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Should yield 1 – 1.5 cups.
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp maple syrup or sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla
Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar and help the berries begin to break down. When the mixture starts to bubble, turn the heat to low and allow to cook for 10 minutes until thickened and the berries have broken-down. Pour into a jar and allow to cool completely.
In a food processor, add the flour, cocoa, salt, and sugar. Blend until combined. Add the cold cubes of butter and process until the dough resembles coarse meal, or appears in larger crumbles. While the processor is on, add one tablespoon of water at a time until the dough pulls together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a flat disk. Wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill/rest for at least 30 min – 1 hour.
Unwrap the dough and place on a floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12-inch round. Carefully transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan and press into the mold, making sure not to overwork the dough. Crimp the edges however you desire, making sure that the dough edge is lying against the flat edge of the pie plate. Prick the surface of the dough with a fork, creating air-holes to help the crust from bubbling up during baking. Cover and place in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes to chill before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You may choose to add pie weights to blind-bake your crust. Add a piece of parchment paper over your crust and pour pie weights, or dry rice or beans into the parchment to weight the dough down. Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Continue baking for approximately 15 minutes more.
Let cool completely before adding filling.
Pistachio Pudding Filling:
2 cups coconut milk + 5 Tbsp coconut milk
7 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla or pistachio extract (we didn’t use pistachio extract here, but doing so may help to boost the flavor as well)
3-4 Tbsp of sugar or sweetener of your choice
1/8 tsp salt
1 – 1.5 cups of pistachio paste (see above)
1 13.5oz can of coconut cream left in the refrigerator overnight – make sure you buy a high-quality coconut cream, or a full-fat coconut milk for best results
In a bowl, whisk together the 5 Tbsp of coconut milk, cornstarch, extract, sugar, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 cups of coconut milk over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk as the pudding thickens. Bring back to a bubble and then remove from the heat. Whisk in the pistachio paste until completely incorporated. Taste for flavor and adjust as needed with more paste or extract if using. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until completely cool.
When the filling is cooled, prepare the coconut whipped cream. Open your can of coconut cream. The solids and liquid should have separated. Remove the solids (the cream) and leave the clear liquid (could reserve for another use if desired). Add the solids to a bowl and whip using a hand-mixer to incorporate air until fluffy and light peaks form.
Fold the coconut whipped cream into the pistachio pudding. Now we are ready for assembly!
Chocolate crust, baked and cooled
1/2 – 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Raspberry Compote, cooled
Arrange a single layer of raspberries in the bottom of your cooled chocolate crust.
Pour the pistachio pudding filling into the crust and over the raspberries. Spread the filling to fill the crust completely. Place in the refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes. At this point, you can choose to swirl the raspberry compote into the pie or you can use as a topping when serving. To swirl. Add 3-4 dollops of the compote onto the surface of the pie. Using a long chopstick or similar tool, carefully swirl the compote by pulling it into the filling using the chopstick. Continue until the compote appears to be evenly swirled throughout, but be careful not to over-mix as to maintain the different layers.
Continue chilling the pie for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve the pie with fresh raspberries, a sprinkle of pistachio, or the reserved compote. Will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, but is best in the first couple days.
Four tiers of lemon poppyseed sponges, zingy lemon curd, pastry cream, and fresh blueberries.
We are celebrating an odd occasion this weekend…Kristin’s original wedding date. Although the wedding is only postponed with a new date already in the works, it has been odd to think through all of the preparations and events that would be taking place if covid-19 hadn’t changed the landscape of the future. As a way to honor this time and still celebrate in some way, Kristin suggested making an “Un-Wedding Cake” (inspiration from Alice’s un-birthday cake). Springtime has us dreaming of fresh, light flavors and so we went looking for recipes that “married” blueberries and lemon together.
We found Life Made Simple’s lemon poppyseed cake and decided to make our own version including the addition of blueberries throughout the layers. We followed the suggestion to whip the egg whites into a meringue and then fold this into the rest of the cake batter. The result is an absolutely moist, beautifully fluffy sponge that is absolutely divine.
We recommend making the lemon curd and pastry cream the day before or in the morning if you’re making the cake for later in the afternoon. While each step of this recipe is straightforward, there are many different elements! The lemon curd and cream will hold-up well in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap pushed down to the surface to help keep a skin from forming.
Also, you can save a lot of time by juicing all your lemons and collecting all your zest ahead of time as each part of the recipe calls for juice and zest. Either Meyer lemons or standard lemons work well. In total, you will need 3/4 cup lemon juice and 3 Tablespoons of zest.
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs (whole eggs!)
6 Tbsp. butter cubed – chilled or room temp
1 tsp lemon zest (either fine or course – your preference)
In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, salt, and eggs, then put over low heat. As the mixture combines and the sugar begins to melt, add the butter and whisk until incorporated. Cook, whisking every so often, until the mixture begins to thicken (this happens quite suddenly in our experience). Turning the heat to medium-high, continue cooking until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Turn off the heat.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any bits of egg that separated from the curd. Mix in the lemon zest. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic against the surface of the curd to help prevent it forming a skin. Place in refrigerator to completely cool before use.
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 cups half and half
4 Tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the half and half over medium heat until it begins to bubble (not boil).
Now it’s egg tempering time; take your time with this step and really do things gradually. Add a small about of the heated half and half to the egg mixture, whisking fervently as you do so to avoid cooking the eggs. Continue adding a little half and half bit by bit. This slowly heats up the egg mixture so that the eggs incorporate smoothly and don’t scramble.
Once all of your half and half has been incorporated, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. [Now there is a moment when your pastry cream may look like it has failed, and that your eggs have curdled. Just keep stirring and we promise the mixture will smooth out again.]
If you would like the process of painfully pushing this mixture through a sieve for an even smoother texture, go right ahead. However, we decided to skip this step. While still hot, place pastry cream in bowl and mix in the butter, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Cover with plastic wrap pushed down to the surface of the cream to prevent forming a skin. Refrigerate and cool completely before use.
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar (Note – 1 cup is used with the egg yolks and 1 cup is used with the egg whites!)
6 eggs separated
2 cups all-purpose or cake flour
2 1/2 Tbsp of poppy seeds
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2/3 cup greek yogurt (reduced or full fat), room temperature
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two 8 or 9-inch springform pans with parchment paper. Alternatively you can liberally butter your pans and dust with flour, however this is not as likely to keep your cakes from sticking!
Using a stand-mixer or hand-mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar together until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes on high setting).
In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
To your sugar-butter mixture, add egg yolks one at a time, fully incorporating each one and scrapping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition. Beat in the lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add 1/3 of the dry flour mixture and combine. Now add 1/3 of the yogurt and combine. Continue alternating and mixing until all of the flour mixture and yogurt are mixed in. No not over-mix!
In a clean mixing bowl, add the eggs whites and remaining 1 cup of sugar. Whip vigorously until they reach stiff, shiny peaks. Fold the meringue into the batter, taking your time, and being careful not to deflate the mix. Do not over-mix.
Divide your batter amongst your cake pans. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, checking with a knife for doneness (knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out easily with little to no batter clinging to it). To avoid over baking, you may choose to check on the cakes every 10-20 minutes. The cakes should be visibly brown on top with no obvious wiggle in the middle when jiggling the oven rack.
Remove from the oven when done and cool for at least 15 minutes in their pans before removing and cooling on a wire rack. Cool completely before assembly.
Candied lemons: thinly slice 1 lemon. In a wide pan, heat equal parts sugar and water (1 cup to 1 cup) until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon slices and cook until translucent (25-45 minutes depending on thinness). Lay them out on parchment paper and let them dry overnight or at least for several hours.
2 cups Blueberries
poppy seeds for sprinkling
Split each cake in two horizontally to create 4 layers. This can be done carefully with a knife.
On your cake stand or plate, spread a small about of the pastry cream in the center to help stabilize the cake as you build. Add your first layer of sponge. Add 1/4 of your pastry cream, pushing it to the edges and smoothing out. Add 1/4 of your lemon curd, carefully spread it to the edges, making sure not to mix it into the cream below. Press about 1/2 cup blueberries into the layer, making sure they are evenly and generously distributed. Now add your next layer of sponge and repeat this process over again with the cream, curd, and blueberries until you get to your last layer.
For the top of the cake, you should still have about 1/4 of your cream and 1/4 of your curd. Go ahead and smooth out the last of the pastry cream on the top layer in the same way as the other layers. You might at this point choose to smooth out any pastry cream that has escaped the sides of the cake. This cake is a “naked-cake”, so there won’t be any frosting to cover the sides. Pour the last of your lemon curd on the top and carefully smooth it out to the edges, pushing it gently off the edge to create a dripping effect down the side of the cake. Add your candied lemon slices (if using), and decorate with remaining blueberries. Sprinkle on poppyseeds for a final touch.
It is best if you chill this cake for at least 15 minutes before serving (if you can wait that long!). The cake with keep covered in the refrigerator for approximately a week, but honestly we’d be surprised if you didn’t eat it all before then.