Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Fruit Pandowdy

It’s peach season in North Carolina, where I live, and nothing is better than a sweet/tart Carolina peach. I’m trying to lose some weight now after packing it on during our engagement party, but I can’t resist the fabulous fruit that’s now in season. When company comes, I like to use that bounty in a pastry of some kind, but most pastry is very caloric and detrimental to a diet. So, I trotted out my book, Light Jewish Holiday Desserts to see what I could make that wouldn’t be disastrous. This pandowdy looks higher in fat than it actually is, because about 1/4 of the dough is “waste”. It’s in the recipe so that you don’t have to sweat getting it to roll and fit the pan, making for a more relaxing baking session. It does have a fair number of calories (about 200) but a good serving size has only 5 grams of fat and is 4 Weight Watchers® points. Eaten with a scoop of Breyer’s™ fat-free ice cream, it’s almost 300 calories and 5 points – not your everyday dessert, but it won’t break your diet either, and it’s worth every single calorie and point!! If you prefer a more finished look than the homey look of a pandowdy, don’t push the dough down into the juices.

Reduced Fat Pecan Pastry
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (74 grams) sifted cake flour
2/3 cup (86 grams) all-purpose flour, measured by fluffing, scooping and levelling
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup pecans, toasted for 3 minutes until aromatic and cooled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 tablespoons shortening, cold
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons egg or egg substitute, cold

10 medium peaches, ripe but firm
Fruitfresh™ or 2 lemons
1 medium apple, preferably Rome or a summer apple
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries, washed
1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1 large mango, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 - 1-1/4 cups sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375° F, with a rack in the middle of the oven. Have ready a 9x13-inch Pyrex baking pan. Fill a medium pot with 3-inches of water and set it on the stove to come to a boil. Next to the stove, set a large bowl of ice water. Add 1 tablespoon of Fruit Fresh™ or lemon juice to the water. This will keep the peaches from turning brown, but won't add that much acidy to the fruit.

For the pastry:
Combine the flours, salt, sugar and the nuts in a food processor, and pulse-process until the nuts are finely ground. Cut the butter and shortening into 1/2-inch chunks and place on top of the flour. Pulse-process until the fats look like lentils or rice, about 10 three-second pulses. (Alternatively, you can cut the fats into the flour with a pastry blender).

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Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix together the vanilla, vinegar and egg substitute. Pour half into the flour mixture, and mix with a fork until completely moistened.

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Add the remaining egg mixture, as needed, pressing the dough with your hands, until it forms a dry, but cohesive ball.

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Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 2 peaches in the simmering water for 30 seconds.

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Remove them and put them in the ice water.

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Set 2 more peaches in the simmering water and while they are heating, make a slit at the bottom of the peach to release the skin, and then use a paring knife to take the skin off of the peach. Dip the pealed peach into the ice/citrus water and then set it aside. Repeat until all of the peaches have been peeled.

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Slice the peaches into 1/2-inch slices and then cut them in half widthwise. Place in the bowl of ice/citrus water and then drain completely and dump the peaches into a large bowl. Peel, core and dice the apple into 1/4-inch chunks. Mix it into the peaches. Add in the blueberries, strawberries and mango. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch. Turn the mixture into the Pyrex dish.

Cut open all except one long end of a jumbo ziptop bag.

Set the Pyrex dish on the bag, and mark the size of the pan on the outside of the plastic. Flour the inside of the bag. Place the dough inside, and roll it almost as big as the bag, flipping the dough over, several times during the rolling process, lifting the plastic and generously sprinkling the dough with flour.


Cut the dough to about the same size as the pan (there will be quite a bit of excess), and then cut this into 12 rectangles. Set the dough rectangles on top of the fruit (the whole top will be covered with dough - photo below is just to show fruit).

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Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Set a cookie sheet under the oven rack you’ll use for baking. Set the pandowdy in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Push the rectangles down into the juices using a pancake turner (spatula).

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Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the crust re-surfaces, and is crisp. Cool for 30 to 45 minutes before eating. Can be made a couple of hours ahead of time (before serving, re-heat in a 350 degree oven to warm the fruit and crisp up the topping).

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Crumb Cake Saga – The Final Recipe

I'm amazed that it's taken me 5 versions to come up with my ideal crumb cake, but I guess I didn't have a clear vision of what I wanted until I started down this road. I finally did get what I was after - cake that is moist and not too high, with a thick layer of crumbs that are slightly crunchy on the outside and soft inside with a buttery, but not greasy taste. Yum! Now if only I wasn't on a diet...

This recipe can now be found on my CD-rom or download: Amazing Desserts - A Photographic Guide to Better Baking.  For details on ordering, please click on MY Books, above.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Letting Go

I've held onto Tales of a Tiered Cake post for almost 3 weeks now and letting it go is not easy. I like to look at this handywork that took so long to create and yes, maybe it's a way to keep my kids close and pretend that my now engaged son has not moved across the country. But, I think it's fitting that as he and his fiancee settle into their new home tomorrow, I too let this post go. It's not gone forever - just tucked away in a different corner. Tomorrow I'll have a new address for my tiered cake - and for my son as well.

Love you guys. Miss you