Experimental Peach Galettes

peach galettes (crostata)

Galettes. These rustic free-form tarts – nothing more than flaky crust folded casually around juicy fruit — are the quintessential summer pastry. Just about any seasonal berries or stone fruits will work, but nothing is more beautiful than red-rimmed golden peach slices.

My individual-size galettes were based on Tartine’s method, which could not be simpler: roll out crust, place naked fruit, sprinkle with a little sugar, fold, and bake. (If you don’t have the book, get it; Tartine’s galette crust recipe alone is worth the dough. Thanks, I’ll be here all week.)

For each galette, I used about 110 grams of crust dough, one (unpeeled) medium peach cut into eight slices, and a teaspoon of sugar. I also added an experimental element: a layer of fine dry breadcrumbs (Norwich Sourdough, of course), which was intended to absorb the peach juices, adding another textural component to the filling and preventing the flaky crust from becoming soggy.

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Banana Crumb Bread

For this banana bread, inspired by my all-time favorite from The Moosewood Cookbook, I replaced a portion of the flour with fine dry bread crumbs. The crumbs I used were from a slightly sweet oatmeal molasses bread, but any crumbs should work if your banana is good and ripe.

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Bread Crumb Carrot Cake

The first time you make this cake, you will look at the batter and think, “This is so wrong.” I say “the first time” because — if you can get get past the thick, chunky, curdled, doesn’t look like-any-cake-I-ever-saw quality of the batter (for want of a better word), if you trust me that your oven will work a miracle and turn this highly questionable stuff into a delightfully moist and toothsome cake — my bet is that there will be a second time.

Part of the reason for the wacky batter is that the “flour” in this cake is not flour at all, but fine, dry crumbs made from my favorite sourdough bread. I have been experimenting with replacing flour with crumbs in different recipes, with mixed results. This is my favorite to date. While I would never go so far as to say that a butter-and-sugar-rich cake is healthy, if you’re going to eat dessert I don’t think it hurts to have the health benefits of sourdough — not to mention carrots, pineapple, and walnuts – on your side.

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Banana Bread Crumb Muffins (Alpha Version)

If you like your muffins light and sweet and soft — in other words, miniature cakes — these will not be the muffins for you. (These are not Barbie muffins.)

If you think a muffin should give you something to sink your teeth into, with more substance than sugar, these might be the muffins for you. (These are real-woman muffins.)

I still consider these a work in progress, but as a proof of concept — the concept being that a lusty muffin can be made with dry sourdough bread crumbs as the sole “flour” — they’re not bad.

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Brioche Bread Pudding

My daughter M lives in a place without a proper kitchen, and while this is not nice for her, it is great for me because it means I get to see her when she gets the (increasingly frequent) urge to cook or bake.

Last weekend M wanted to make Christmas cookies for her friends. I proposed an additional challenge: make brioche pudding with one of my extra lemon-anise snowflakes that was a little past its prime. She came through with flying colors!

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Bread Crumb Sourdough

Using old bread to make new bread is certainly nothing new. The practice of adding an “old bread soaker” to dough has been used in Europe, especially Germany, for hundreds of years. In Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, Jeffrey Hamelman writes, “The practice of soaking old bread and then adding it into a new batch not only makes economic sense, it also gives a rich depth of flavor to the new breads. Far from being expended, the old bread contains much that is still fermentable…”

This sourdough bread uses old bread in a slightly different way. Instead of soaking it, I wanted to find out what would happen if I turned some week-old Norwich Sourdough (crust and all) into fine bread crumbs and simply let the crumbs stand in for a portion of the flour in a new batch of dough.

I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the result. Not only is the flavor rich and toasty, and the crumb pleasantly speckled with brown flecks, but this must be one of the longest shelf-lives I’ve ever seen with any of my loaves. I’ve gone through about 2/3 of a one-kilogram loaf in a week, and I am still able to cut, chew, and enjoy it.

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