It's peach season. I hope you are fortunate enough to have access to lovely fresh peaches. Or even better, to be able to pick your own peaches from a local orchard. My friend and I have a tradition to drive about 40 miles east of where we live to pick peaches every August. Truthfully, it is more about the adventure than picking the peaches. This year we dealt with just a bit of rain, but we didn't mind. We each came home with a full peck of beautiful peaches. Most of which I have shared with my neighbors. A peck is a lot of peaches.
Right away when we got back from our adventure, I began a search of peach recipes. I had forgotten how many recipes I have on this blog for peaches. But I am making room for one more. This simple recipe came from an internet search landing on Martha Stewart. I have taken a basic recipe and added spice to the peach filling, using cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. The salt is increased in the dough making it a salty shortbread, complimenting the spice added to the peaches. None of the ingredients overpowers the other, yielding a balance of salt, spice and sweet. The corners and the edges have a nice chewy texture, coveted in this household, with softer center pieces which are perfect served with vanilla ice cream.
Salty-Spice Peach Pie Bars
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (extra butter for the pan)
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon - divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 pound peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch dice (3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ginger
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. This will help in removing the peach bars from the pan. Butter the parchment paper.
Working with a mixer, combine the butter and 1 cup of sugar in the mixing bowl, beating until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the salt to the butter mixture, beating to combine. Add in the flour, combining on low speed until loosely combined, but not fully together. Remove 2 and 1/2 cups from the mix, adding this to the prepared baking pan. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan and 1-inch up the sides of the pan. The "walls'" formed up the side of the pan will contain the peaches and juice once added to the dough.
Cut the peaches into 1/2 inch pieces, leaving the skin on is okay but removing the pit. Add the cut peaches to a medium size bowl. Add in the sugar and the fresh lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add in the salt and the spices, stirring until well combined.
Transfer the peaches, pouring onto the prepared crust. Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the peaches, squeezing the dough into clumps. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top of the dough. Place the pan into the hot oven, baking for roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes. The top will be golden brown and the peach juice bubbling up through the top crumble crust. Remove the pan from the oven, cooling the peach bars in the pan for 20-30 minutes. Using the parchment paper overhang, lift the peach bars from the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into squares and serve as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.