On a roll

This is how the peach puzzle looks coming out of the oven; not particularly attractive. All of the dough is covering the peaches and the ramekin.
Flip it upside down and the ramekin is filled with peachy, buttery, sweet syrup and the dough is now a crunchy, sugary crust. Serve with vanilla ice cream (really good) or whipped cream.

A few weekends back I was rummaging through a book bin at the SPARC Second Chance store when a cookbook (of course) caught my eye. Best 25 cents I’ve ever spent.

Titled “Lost Recipes” and put out in 2007, this effort by the Americas Test Kitchen is fun to peruse.

One recipe caught my eye. It was for what is called a Peach Puzzle. The really cool part is you peel peaches and place them around an inverted ovenproof ramekin in a pie pan.

Then pour a simple brown sugar syrup over the peaches. Cover the peaches and ramekin with an easy dough and bake.

When it’s finished cooking, let it cool a bit and invert onto a plate. The syrup you poured over the peaches has cooked into an amazing conversion into deliciousness. And it’s all in the ramekin waiting to be spooned over the cooked peaches nestled in the pastry.

Peach Puzzle (*courtesy of America’s Best Lost Recipes, from America’s Test Kitchen, 2007)

*Sometimes America’s Test Kitchen recipes are a bit on the fussy side. I’re streamlined some steps.

Peaches and syrup

7 medium peaches, whole, peeled (or however many make a full circle in your pie plate around the ramekin)

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar 

6 tablespoons water (this is actually a 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of water if you want to go a little faster; fyi, 4 tablespoons=1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (that’s one of my little touches)

1/8 teaspoon salt (or a really nice pinch)

Dough

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut int 1/4 inch pieces and chilled (I stuck it in the freezer while I got my other ingredients together. It was nice and cold when it was time to use it.)

6 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons) milk

Peaches and syrup

Heat oven to 400. Place a custard cup or ramekin upside down in the middle of a generously greased 9-inch pie plate. Arrange the peaches around the ramekin. Combine brown sugar, water, butter, vanilla, almond and salt in a sauce pan and boil on medium heat until the sugar and butter melts 3-5 minutes. Pour the syrup over the peaches.

Dough

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a whisk. Add butter and work in with a pastry cutter. Finish working the butter into the flour mixture with your clean fingertips. You can use a food processor, but I’ve found hand mixing butter into flour give me much better results. Fold the milk into the flour and mix together. Work the dough with your hands until it comes together as one piece (not a bunch of little pieces pressed together.) Roll dough into a 9-inch circle and place on top of peaches, pulling it and nestling it among the peaches. Do NOT attach to pie plate.

Bake on middle rack of oven for about 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Take out of the oven and place on rack for 30 minutes. Place a round plate that is bigger than the pie plate on top of the Peach Puzzle. Quickly flip the entire thing over in one movement. The ramekin will be filled with syrup and the peaches are cooked and nestled into a crust. Serve one peach at a time with attached dough and syrup spooned on top.

Hmmmmm. I wonder how it would taste to add just a wee drab of bourbon to the syrup? … (yes i know wee drabs are for scotch. it just sounded funny.)

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