bakingfrom scratchsummer

Brown Butter Peach Bars

Over the last couple of months I have gathered together a nice little pile of peach recipes. It’s not like I have been sitting around tapping my fingers on my kitchen counter, waiting for peaches to come into season but you could say I have been getting a little impatient. So anyway, stone fruit has hit the shelves of the local stores and finally I can get on with it.

This is one of those bars that is a little more involved than others but I had some spare time over a couple of days so it worked fine for me. The result is a fruity baked bar that is well worth the time it takes to brown butter (twice), scrape vanilla seeds and make a jam. It is the quintessential bakery treat that screams ‘old fashioned goodness’ and has the ‘home baked taste’ written all over it.

So I ask you – why have plain melted butter when you can have a gorgeous nutty browned butter infused with vanilla and why buy jam when you can concoct your own peachy version? If this all makes sense to you then I think you may be ready for these bars…for they are certainly worth the effort.

Peach Jam
1 cup sugar
Zest 1 orange
Juice of two oranges (around 1 cup)
½ vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
4 cups peaches (about 2 pounds whole), diced to 1/2 inch & unpeeled

1 cup (225 grams/8 ounces) unsalted butter
½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 ½ cups flour

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
¾ cup plus
2 tablespoons flour
½ vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
10 tablespoons (141 grams/5 ounces) unsalted butter

Mix together the sugar, orange zest and juice, and vanilla bean and seeds in a heavy based saucepan with a wooden spoon. Place a candy thermometer in the pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes, until it reaches 220 degrees. Add the peaches and boil, stirring occasionally, until the peaches turn into a thick jam and the thermometer returns to 220 degrees, 35 to 45 minutes. Wear long oven mitts as the jam can splatter. (When the jam begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, it’s nearly there). Transfer the jam to a wide pan to cool. Remove the vanilla bean. You should have around 1 1/2 cups of jam.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook until the white milk solids start to brown and smell nutty, 5 to 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve set over a heatproof container. Freeze until solid.

In a large bowl, mix together the confectioner’s sugar and flour. Scoop the chilled brown butter into the flour mixture and, using a pastry cutter, blend until crumbly. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and firmly pat it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the crust until golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, zest and flour in a large bowl. Place the vanilla bean and seeds and the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the white milk solids start to brown and smell nutty, and then strain through a fine sieve. Carefully add the brown butter to the egg and flour mixture, whisking until the butter is incorporated. Remove the vanilla bean.

Spread half of the filling over the baked crust. Spoon large dollops of the peach jam over the filling, reserving a quarter of the jam. Pour the remaining brown butter filling over the peach jam, and finish by spooning smaller dollops of the reserved jam over the top. Bake until the filling is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Yeild: Makes 12 bars.

Notes: To make these less laborious I made the burnt butter for the base and jam on the first day and then did the rest of the following day, it is straight forward – just has a few more steps than usual.

Source: Adapted from Big Sur Bakery in Big Sur, California

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