Peachy keen: This easy puff pastry dessert is sure to impress
Make life easier by keeping a packet of prerolled puff in the freezer
Photograph: Harry Weir
Ready-made puff pastry has saved my bacon more times than I can remember. A packet of prerolled puff in the freezer means an impressive-looking dinner or dessert is never far away. It’s not that I don’t like making pastry, but I prefer to make it with a cool head and cool hands, rather than in a hot kitchen at the height of summer.
If you are buying puff pastry, seek out a brand made entirely with butter. The taste is far superior and definitely worth the slightly higher cost. These peach puff pastries are like a quick version of a Danish pastry.
A traditional Danish pastry dough would contain yeast, which the puff pastry doesn’t, and would involve rolling, folding, turning and resting. By contrast, these French bakery-style peach pastries can take less than half an hour. Buying the pastry means the hard work of creating flaky layers has already been done. The puff pastry is much crunchier than a Danish pastry would be, but they taste fantastic and will be gone before you know it.
We are at the height of the stone fruit season, when fresh peaches should be at their sweetest and cheapest. But it is worth knowing these pastries work very well with tinned peaches too.
PEACHES AND CREAM PASTRIES
6 medium peaches
1 sheet puff pastry (if frozen, thawed)
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the pastry cream:
2 egg yolks
30g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
25g plain flour
2tbs apricot jam
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 Preheat your oven to 190 degrees (fan). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2 To prepare fresh peaches: cut the peaches in half and and remove the stone. To remove the outer skin simply use a vegetable peeler or steep the peach halves in a bowl of boiling water for five minutes and gently peel away the outer skin (if you are using tinned peach halves, drain them well and place them cut-side down on kitchen paper).
3 For the pastry cream: Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale, then whisk in the vanilla and flour. Scald the milk by heating it to just below boiling point in a saucepan. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return to the cleaned-out saucepan and stir as you bring the custard up to a boil for one minute, then reduce the heat and allow it to thicken by stirring over a low heat for about 10 minutes (keep scraping around the base and edges of the pot with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps). Once cooked, transfer the pastry cream to a clean bowl, cover the surface with clingfilm to stop a skin forming, and allow it to cool before placing the bowl in the refrigerator. (The pastry cream can be made up to two days in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to use.)
4 Cut the pastry sheet into six equal-sized squares (12cm x 12cm). Place a tablespoon of pastry cream mixture diagonally along the centre of each pastry square (do not overfill). Arrange two peach halves in the centre (if the peach halves are very large, slice across the cut side to make them smaller so they fit). Brush the exposed edges of the pastry with a beaten egg, then bring two corners to the centre, pinching the joins together with your fingers, and leaving the peaches visible. Brush the pastry with more egg wash to give it a nice golden colour when baked.
5 Place the pastries on the lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed up and golden.
6 Heat the apricot jam in a saucepan with a squeeze of lemon juice and brush over the surface of the baked pastry and peaches for a glazed finish. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
You can use tinned apricots or pears too.