You didn't think I'd let the summer pass without sharing a stone fruit baked good, did you? Even a peach shortage wouldn't stop my obsession, and luckily our local peach crop is unaffected. I was naturally over the moon when my CSA delivered two whole bags of yellow and white peaches plus nectarines last week, and I knew that it was time to get baking. I've typically made rustic buckles and tortes, but I found myself craving something lighter and portable, something grab-and-go, if you will. I wanted to make peach pie bars.
I wish I had the time to recipe test and create exactly what I imagine baking, but practical realities (notably my job, our puppy, and my commitment to only photographing in natural light) get in the way. Case in point: I'd hoped to spend Saturday afternoon leisurely baking with these precious peaches, but our sweet pup came down with kennel cough and we spent the day making two separate vet visits and tending to a very sick dog. It wasn't the Saturday that we'd planned, but Foster is doing much better and we're so glad.
Luckily by Sunday a little online searching had led me to Martha Stewart's peach pie crumble bars, which were just what I was hoping to make. I like Martha Stewart recipes (these two are longtime favorites) because I find them to be approachable and not unnecessarily complicated, which is exactly what I want when it comes to stone fruits. The results are exactly what I hoped for: peach pie to go! This is one of my favorite things that I've baked in a very long time, and Doug gave rave reviews too, noting the decadent crust and great flavor. Read on for my notes on the recipe...
- A lot of recipes call for yellow peaches, but I really like white peaches (which I used here exclusively) for their fragrant, almost floral note and delicate flavor.
- I made made the filling first, and stored it in the fridge to macerate while preparing the crust.
- I mixed equal half all purpose flour and half cake flour for a lighter crumb in the crust.
- While the recipe calls for you to pour the filling onto the crust, I prefer to spoon it in with a slotted spoon. Stone fruits release liquid while baking, and spooning in just the fruit (but not the extra liquid) prevents the bars from becoming soggy. Nobody wants that!
- I added 1/4 cup sliced almonds on top of the crumble topping for a little extra crunch.
- I tented with foil after 25 minutes, then removed the tent with 15 minutes to go. I didn't want the top over browned, so managed it carefully.
- The pie was a bit tricky to get out of the cake pan. When baking these again, I would line the cake pan with parchment paper to make that process easier.
- I only have 9x9 inch cake pan, while the recipe calls for 8x8 inch. I scaled the recipe to accommodate my pan, which is roughly 25% larger by surface area, and thus to prevent thin, wimpy-looking bars. It's not as complicated as it sounds. Here are my ingredient conversions, and I found that I needed to bake about an hour and 20 minutes:
For the crust:
- Two sticks butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 cups flour (equal parts all purpose and cake flour)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
For the fruit filling:
- Four hearty cups diced peaches
- Overflowing 1/2 cup sugar (specifically you're going for 5/8 cup, but you don't need to be that precise, so my shortcut is just a heaping half cup)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons flour (all purpose is fine, but you could also skip it if you want the fruit to really shine, which I always do)
- 1 1/4 tablespoons lemon juice
- Heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt