Peachy Keen – DE MÂNĂ. Transylvanian food stories

Peachy Keen

Let’s talk about peaches! That blast of sweetness that brings recollections of summer at its best… balmy hot breezes, swimming in lakes and picnicking in fields.

Our peach jam and compote come from a family run organic fruit farm in Badachin, Salaj county, Transylvania. The family are super passionate about what they do and this exuberantly shines through in their produce.  As well as believing strongly in the practices of organic farming they take it that one step further with the clean produce that they make on site. They want their produce to taste ‘real’, just as it should of the natural ingredients that they are made from. This means adding as little sugar as possible so as not to alter or falsify the taste. These peaches have been ripened and tended to in the summer sun, they are perfectly sweet in their natural state. Pomaraia Bădachin want you to taste their products as if you are eating a peach straight from the tree in their orchard… and you will see this is exactly what they have achieved if you try their produce.

Shop Peach Preserves HERE...

We didn’t want to play around too much with these ingredients, they are simply perfect as they are and trust us you will be happy enough to lavish them straight from the spoon or dolloped on top of some simple Greek yoghurt or vanilla ice cream. However… we have come with a couple of super simple ideas where we think their flavour is deliciously complimented.

1. Peach jam, gorgonzola & spring onion on toast 

So simple and easy to achieve - perfect for a light brunch/ lunch and can easily be served with a fresh green salad or poached egg if you were looking for something more substantial. We topped it on freshly toasted sourdough but certainly feel free to play around with your choice of bread.

 2. Peach & polenta galette 

We must admit we can’t take all the credit for this one. Recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi’s SWEET book. But we think the flavours compliment each other perfectly along with coincidently combining these fine Transylvanian peaches with one of the most staple Romanian pantry ingredients… Polenta known as ‘mamaliga’ in Romania.

This humble ingredient has a prominent place in Romania’s cuisine. It is most commonly made into a cornmeal porridge and accompanied with many different meals. Traditionally it was the food of peasants or shepherds as the ingredients and cooking method are extremely simple. It was even made high up in the mountains whilst shepherds tend to their flocks of sheep. In particular, shepherds stuffed their cooked polenta with sheeps cheese and then baked in on an open fire - this is known as ‘Bulz’… but that’s a story for another day…

INGREDIENTS

POLENTA PASTRY

90g plain flour
45g polenta
25g caster sugar
90g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp cold water

TOPPING

1 jar peaches in syrup 
60g peach jam 

40g runny honey
1.5 tbsp water

PASTRY CREAM

1 tsp lavender buds 

100ml full fat milk
1 tsp thyme leaves
       (Plus an extra tsp to garnish)
10g unsalted butter
20g caster sugar
1 large egg yolk
1.5 tsp cornflour
1 tsp plain flour

METHOD 

  1. For the pastry, place all the ingredients except for the water in a food processor. Blitz together until the mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the water and continue to blitz, just until the dough comes together. Tip the dough on to a clean work surface and knead gently: you just want to bring it together without over-working it. Wrap loosely in cling film, flatten into a rectangle and store in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  2. To make the cream, place the milk, lavender, thyme, butter and half the sugar in a small saucepan. Heat gently until the milk is just coming to a simmer and bubbles are beginning to form around the sides.
  3. In the meantime, combine the egg yolk with the remaining sugar, cornflour and plain flour in a medium bowl and whisk together to form a paste. Just as the milk is coming to a simmer, strain into a clean pan and then slowly whisk half of it into the egg yolk mixture. It helps to have a damp cloth underneath the bowl to steady it while you whisk with one hand and pour with the other. Once combined, whisk this back into the remaining hot milk and cook over a medium-low heat for 3–5 minutes, until very thick and smooth. Check it is ready by lifting some of the mixture out of the pan on the whisk: it should slowly drop off. Transfer the custard to a clean bowl or jug, cover with cling film – you want it to be actually touching the surface of the custard to prevent it forming a skin – and set aside in the fridge until completely cool.
  4. Remove the pastry from the fridge a few minutes before rolling it out, so that it becomes malleable. Line a baking tray (that will fit in your fridge) with baking parchment.
  5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to form a 45 x 15cm rectangle, 0.5cm thick. Trim the edges so that it is approximately 42 x 13cm and cut this into six smaller rectangles, each about 7 x 13cm. Place on the lined baking tray and, one rectangle at a time, fold in all the sides by 1cm to form a second layer that will hold in the pastry cream and fruit: it will look quite rustic but this is as it should be. Place in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.
  6. To assemble and bake the tarts, preheat the oven to 210 °C/190 °C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Spread the pastry cream evenly over the base of the galettes. For the topping, place the drained peaches in a medium bowl and pour the honey over the top. Mix well, then lay four or five peach slices on top of the pastry cream in one long line and tightly overlapping. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the pastry is dark golden brown around the edges, golden brown underneath and the apricots are nicely coloured around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  7. Make the glaze while the galettes are still slightly warm. Place the peach jam and water in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat. Allow the mixture to boil for about 1 minute, stirring continuously, until thick. Immediately brush the glaze over the top of the peaches and pastry and sprinkle over the extra teaspoon of thyme leaves. Set aside until ready to serve.

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