I can never tire of a rustic dessert, especially one made with fresh, perfectly ripe peaches. Fruits like these when at their peak always make the difference, turning a ho-hum dessert into a spectacular one. I'd like to think that peach desserts are an American specialty, particularly a Southern one. There is the traditional peach cobbler, peach crisp, and peach crumble. There are also the peach pie and tart. But when simply baked on a pan with the edges of the dough turned over, you have what the French call a galette and the Italians a crostata. An extra crispy crust sets the galette or crostata apart from pies and tarts.
This crispiness is achieved by baking at high temperature and can not only be attained by professional bakers, but by home bakers too. Preheat the oven with a pizza stone and after adequately heating for a half hour, bake the galette in a pan placed over the stone. This is the foolproof method for the crispiest crust, but what if it's sill soggy? The French secret to keeping the crust from getting soggy is a thin layer of ground nuts between the dough and fruit. The Italians use amaretti crumbs. The nuts or crumbs absorb the excess liquid from the fruit and create a thickened consistency. They almost go unnoticed in the finished dessert.
When prepping for this recipe, it's best to start with the very best peaches. They should be firm yet ripe and only give slightly to pressure. When peaches are perfectly ripe, their skins slip off easily with little help from a knife. If having trouble, the peaches can be dipped into boiling water to facilitate the removal of the skin. Avoid bruised and mealy peaches, which are usually the supermarket ones that have been picked underripe. The best places to buy peaches are at pick-your-own farms and farmers' markets. There you know that the best is available, rewarding you with juicy, ripe fruit as well as noteworthy desserts.
2 pounds ripe peaches (about 4 or 5 large), peeled and cut into eighths
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon potato starch
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ground walnuts
Preheat oven with pizza stone to 400 degrees F.
Combine lemon juice, potato starch, sugar, and salt; pour over peaches. Toss carefully to coat. Let macerate for 10 minutes.
Roll out dough on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper to 13 inches in diameter. Carefully lay dough with parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Spread ground walnuts on the dough within 2 inches from the edge. Arrange peach slices in a decorative pattern over the ground walnuts. Pour in remaining juices. Fold up the 2-inch border of the dough, overlapping when necessary. Bake for 40 minutes until the peach juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Yield: 6 servings.
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Mix together with a whisk to aerate
Add butter and work with a pastry blender until mixture resembles course meal.
Add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix until dough comes together.
Form the dough into a flat disc and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour before rolling.