Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Peach Offering

It's been a while since I baked dessert, I know. I can't even use the excuse that it's been too hot to cook because I know you'll point out that I've certainly kept the kitchen in working order with all the canning and preserving I've been doing.

So I beg your forgiveness, and I hope you'll be mollified by today's post.

As I mentioned earlier, I found some juicy ripe Red Haven peaches at the farmers' market on Saturday, and having what my Opera-Loving Friends affectionately call Low Sales Resistance where food is concerned, I bought a quart to bring home, with no other thought than to enjoy fresh, sweet fruit for dessert on hot evenings.

And then -- lo and behold! -- the temperatures took a delightful dip, making it so much easier for me to contemplate turning on the oven.

I had toyed with the idea of baking something over the weekend, anyway, so that I could take something to work today to share with colleagues who were coming to a meeting. I don't bake for just any colleagues, nor for just any meeting, but in this instance, two of my colleagues have birthdays next week, neatly flanking my own.

As I pondered the possibilities, I decided to haul out my trusty and ever-so-versatile date bar recipe and to adapt it for fresh peaches. For those of you keeping track, here's what I changed from the linked recipe:

--switched from whole wheat flour to local spelt flour for the crust
--replaced the cardamom with half the amount of nutmeg in both crust and streusel
--used 2 c chopped peaches instead of dates and blueberries in the filling
--replaced the vanilla with almond extract in the filling

The spelt flour made the shortbread base considerably more tender, so it required more care to press it into the pan:

The peach filling, though it simmered in less water, needed about a tablespoon of flour to thicken it into a more spreadable consistency:

Once I had spread the peaches over the shortbread, I added a drizzle of homemade raspberry jam:

Once I had the streusel topping scattered on top, I slid the pan into the oven to bake for the usual time. And soon, I had a piping hot, fragrant, and utterly tempting dessert on hand:

Yes, I let it cool before I cut into it, and yes, I immediately filled a tin with enough peach bars needed to satisfy all my colleagues at the meeting. And even though I made the peach bars Sunday evening and didn't have the meeting until today, no, I didn't sneak any of the bars out for myself.

So when we all gathered this morning, I set out the tin, wished my colleagues a very happy birthday, and sat back while everyone had a peach bar for their mid-morning snack.

Across the board, the reviews for the peach bars were positive... and thankful. I do enjoy being able to make people happy with such a simple thing, and making a small celebration on an ordinary day and sharing good local food definitely makes people happy.

And with any luck, I'll have made a Dear Reader or two happy in the process.

So... truce?


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