Peach Dumplings with Bourbon Hard Sauce
From the first Smitten Kitchen cookbook!
For the pie crust: (Smitten Kitchen’s All-Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup ice-cold water
For the filling:
3 large peaches
1/2 cup brown sugar, (light or dark brown)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few fresh gratings of nutmeg, or a pinch of ground
1 tablespoon butter, cut into 6 pieces, kept cold
1 large egg, for glaze
For the hard sauce:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
few dashes vanilla, optional
Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl — I like to use a very wide one, so I can get my hands in — whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender.
Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop. Yes, even if it looks uneven; you’ll thank me later.
Glue it together: Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there (see how that big bowl comes in handy?). Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
Pack it up: Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.
Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.
Deb will explain why she thinks mixing your crust by hand results in the flakiest crust, but I’m lazy and did mine in a food processor, and it turned out just fine. If you don’t have a food processor, however, a pastry cutter will work – and your crust will probably be flakier than mine. Roll your dough out to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle (this is pretty tricky, mine did not look as good as Deb’s looked in her pictures), and divide into six 6-inch squares. If dough gets too soft or warm while you’re rolling it (mine did), continue to the square stage, but then transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill them in the freezer for a couple minutes, until they firm up again.
Make Filling: Halve peaches and remove pits. Deb recommends scooping out a little extra flesh from the pit indentation with a melon baller, so that there is more room in the “belly button” of the peach to pack the filling.
Assemble Dumplings: Mix brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a little dish. Spoon one lightly packed tablespoon on top of each peach half, smooshing as much of the sugar mixture as you can into the center. Dot the top of each with a piece of the cold butter. Center a peach half, cut side up, in your first pastry square. Bring corners up to meet each other over the center – if it feels tight, or as if you’re short of dough, make sure that the dough underneath is flush with the peach curve; it tends to get slack – and seal the seams together, pinching with your fingertips.
Bake Dumplings: Arrange dumplings in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Whisk egg together with one teaspoon water to form a glaze. Brush glaze over the tops and exposed sides of dumplings (I then sprinkled with demerara sugar). Bake for 30-40 minutes (mine took 45), until pastries are puffed and bronzed on top.
To Finish: While baking, make the hard sauce. Beat softened butter, confectioners’ sugar, and bourbon until smooth (I added a few drops of vanilla here as well). Scrape into a serving dish. When pastries come out of the oven, dollop each (or at least the ones that will not be served to children) with a heaping spoonful of the hard sauce, and serve pastries with the sauce melting over the sides. Ice cream optional, but delicious.