Peach and Saffron Pastries Recipe
I won’t lie. I love cookbooks mostly for the photographs. I love experiencing life vicariously through beautifully photographed images and Skye McAlpine‘s book “A Table In Venice” is no exception. The first thing that struck me when I opened my package from Penguin Random House was the sumptuous photograph of an Italian feast, complete with meatballs, roasted fennel, pasta, peaches, and wine on the cover. Today I’m sharing Skye’s Peach and Saffron Pastries recipe with you.
A Table In Venice is the complete package.
From the minute I read the opening paragraph, I was hooked –
“In a quiet corner of Venice, far off the beaten track and away from the crowds that cluster around the famous Piazza San Marco, stands a little house. Its walls are dirty and crumbling pink plaster. Its windows, hidden behind watermelon-green shutters, look out over a sleepy canal.”
From the initial description of her childhood home, to the way she describes family meals as a child, to her writing on “Venice’s best kept secret”, Skye’s writing kept me hungry for more. Combined with gorgeous photography and styling, I couldn’t look away.
Gorgeous photography and styling
Anyone who is at all interested in food photography, food styling, or the lifestyle genre in general will love this book. Though I was surprised to see store-bought puff pastry, as well as frozen peas, listed as ingredients in recipes, the gorgeous visuals were more than enough to keep me happy. And can we just take a second to talk about Skye’s fabulous, bold, colourful Italian dresses for a minute? I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, but “A Table In Venice” makes me want to don my favourite floral dress and sip Aperol Spritz in my bare feet as I munch on olives, figs, and cheese in the sun. Sounds heavenly right?
The book is broken into recipes for breakfast, recipes inspired by the market, lunch recipes, recipes for classic aperitivo, recipes from the famous Venetian lagoon, and sweets. Some of the recipes are heralded as classic Venetian dishes, while others, like the peach and saffron pastries, are simple and quick dishes Skye makes at home for her family. It’s a mixed bag for sure, but there’s definitely something for everyone.
I made the peach and saffron pastries and they were wonderful, though a teeny bit dry on top. A drizzle of Nova Scotia honey was an easy solution, and we ate all of the pastries in one evening. Skye calls for peach jam as the base below the peaches, however, I used my friend Sasha‘s technique, from the amazing gluten-free and refined sugar-free Lively Bakery in Halifax, to make a simple, sugar-free apricot “jam” using dried apricots.
Sasha’s Sugar-Free Apricot Jam
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup water
- In a medium pot, bring apricots and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until all water is absorbed. Pureé apricots in a food processor to a paste. Use as jam or as cookie or cake filling.
The recipe is neither traditional nor canonical, but an invention of mine inspired by the buttery apple pas- tries at our local café that are a particular favourite with every member of our family. They really do taste their best when freshly baked and still warm from the oven, and since they call for admittedly (very) little forethought and some time, I reserve making them for weekends, when mornings tend to get off to a slower start. I think they do just as well as dessert, too, served with a pitcher of cream on the side to drizzle over. The pinch of saffron is entirely optional, though to my mind peach and saffron is a match made in heaven.
- 3 tablespoons / 60g peach jam
- Scant teaspoon saffron threads
- 4 to 5 small peaches
- 1 sheet (½ a 17-ounce package) / 1 (320g) package prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- 3 tablespoons / 45ml heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon the jam into a small saucepan (if the jam is very chunky, you can press it through a sieve first, if you want a smoother texture), add the saffron, and set over low heat until it begins to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
- Cut the peaches in half, discard the stones, then finely slice the fruit into half-moon slivers. These can be as chunky or as fine as you like.
- Unfold and lay the puff pastry sheet on a clean, cool surface and use a sharp knife to cut it into 4 strips equal in size. Gently place the pastry on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a few inches between each one so that when they puff up in the oven they don’t stick together.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cream into the saucepan of jam and stir until smooth. Then use the back of the spoon to spread the mixture evenly over each pastry, leaving a 1⁄2-inch margin all around the edges. Arrange the peach slices tightly over the jam so that they fit snugly and overlap. Take a sharp knife and cut a little slit (roughly 1⁄2 inch or 1cm) at each corner of the tarts, from the edge of the fruit to the very edge of the pastry. Then fold the corners in toward the center, pressing gently down where the pastry edges meet, so they stick together.
- Crack the egg into a small cup, add the remaining 1 tablespoon cream, and whisk vigorously with a fork. Use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the edges of the pastry.
- Set the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastries have puffed up and browned nicely, and the fruit looks tender to eat. The pastries are best eaten on the day of baking, while the fruit is still delicious and plump and before they become soggy.
Recipe shared with permission from Penguin Random House.
We’re giving one lucky Canadian reader the chance to win a copy of “A Table In Venice’. For your chance to win, head over to @baked_theblog on Instagram and tag as many friends as you want – each tag is one entry for you! Contest closes at 11:59pm Monday June 11, 2018. Only Canadian residents eligible for entry.
*Recipe shared with permission from Penguin Random House.