bittersweetbaker

Brown Butter Peach Shortbread

In Brownies and Bars, Fruits on September 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm
From Adriana Baking

It rained for the first time in months this morning.

When I got up from my comfortable, toasty warm bed and dressed myself for school, I realized that the weather was considerably cooler. The sky was a dull gray, setting the mood for my math quiz the first hour of school, but very unlike the bright blue it has dressed in all summer. As my father commented on how the clouds looked like they might leak rain any second, I started getting excited. Fall is my absolute favorite season -I love the crisp, cool air that blows in through the kitchen window as I brown butter on the stove top or sit by the oven, cautiously peeking in to check on whatever is baking.  I love being able to wear cardigans and sweaters at school, shivering not because of the frigid air the air conditioner blasts through the vents of the classroom, but because the weather really is cooling off.  But best of all- I get to start baking with warmer flavors. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and pumpkin. And my father was right – soon enough, the clouds let loose a drizzle of rain which soon turned into plump, wet, droplets.

The rain only lasted a few minutes; it was back to short sleeves and cold water bottles in hand the rest of the day. But fall is near- I watch the sun set a little earlier each day, glowing brightly one minute, then gone the next. The weather is perfect for jogging at seven o’clock; cool and crisp, and just the right temperature that when I come home, I’m no longer drenched in sweat. Doing my homework, I watch the leaves dancing in the wind and day dream about warm pumpkin pie and cinnamon ice cream melting atop of a piece of apple cobbler.

From Adriana Baking

Even though I can’t wait until fall finally arrives, I love summer. Fruits of all sorts are at their height, and I have great excuses to make batch after batch of ice cream.  This week, after stopping at a little vegetable store on the way home, my mother brought back peaches. They were beautiful – perfectly heart-shaped and fuzzy, the red tints gradually faded into a soft orange. Quoting my mother, “the colors of nature go so well together; the combinations just work.” And I couldn’t wait to bake with them.

From Adriana Baking

These bars are the perfect transition into fall. The peaches are the result of the summer’s sweltering heat, and the nutmeg is a spice reminiscent of fall. Though I browned the butter until the whole house was filled with a nutty, toasty aroma, it was barely there in the shortbread. I love brown butter, and the bars truly smelled delicious when baking in the oven. I was disappointed that the they were not as fully flavored as they smelled. The hints of nutmeg complimented the peaches beautifully, giving them a little more flavor; use freshly grated nutmeg to ensure this. I’m definitely going to make these bars again when peaches are back in season, but next time I’ll be sure to use very ripe ones. These bars aren’t very sweet, and they won’t be flavorsome if the peaches used are not bursting out of their skins, plump and juicy with the sunshine of summer.

Peach Shortbread
recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Cut softened butter into the flour (instead of frozen brown butter) and increase the flour by two tablespoons, bringing it to three full cups of flour if you are pressed for time.

1 cup (7 ounces or 200 grams) white sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (12 5/8 ounces or 359 grams) cups all-purpose flour (or you can measure 3 cups and remove 2 tablespoons flour) 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces or 227 grams) cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick) (I would recommend using double the amount of peaches; the layer of fruit was much too thin).

Brown your butter: Melt butter in a small/medium saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns and the very second that you turn around to do something else. Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30 minutes).

[Don't have time for all this brown butter madness? Check the head notes to use regular softened butter instead.]

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter a 9×13 inch pan, or spray it with a nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Use a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips, blend the solidified brown butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile peach slices over crumb base in a single layer. Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over peaches and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.

From Adriana Baking
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  1. Lol, I’m about to do a peach post too :D
    just gotta find time to post it, busy with work :(
    and those look really good…omg, and the way you described it too(your writing is awesome!)…i’m drooling :)
    and i love fall too :)
    i call it the cinnamon season. it’s just when everything with cinnamon and other spices in it seems to be so appropriate….

  2. I just saw this on smitten and was thinking of doing it, now I have to do it since you did it! A few days ago it started to feel like fall here but we still have so many summer fruits growing its so strange. Hope school is going well for you.

  3. I know I say this all the time but you write so well! I love these bars and can’t wait for our stone fruit season to commence when I can make them! Thanks for the tips!

  4. This is so beautiful, the writing and the photography. I love how you combined the summer and the fall and it’s describe so elegantly. Great job, once again! (:

  5. Wow, gorgeous photos and, um, YUM??!! I love the sliced peaches pic, the contrasting colors make it so striking.

  6. I hate reading all these delicious peach recipes, ready to start making one anytime soon, only to realise that we’re about half a year away from peach season =( This looks really yummy! And that peach looks so good too! haha….The weather’s changing here too- I can finally wear a skirt without getting goosebumps all over my legs =) Although it sometimes gets a little crazy- sunny one moment and then pouring the next. btw, I used your chocolate butterflies idea from your previous post and they really make a cake look gorgeous!! My cake turned out much more ugly than yours but I think the butterflies made it look a lot better =)

  7. You’re so lucky that you haven’t had much rain this summer, I experienced rain constantly this year. I really need to make shortbread soon, I love it so much.

  8. those look so yummy! you’re so lucky you have access to such fresh fruits!

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