Peaches are quintessentially summer fruits which means summer without eating peaches is just wrong. I was late in buying the fruits from my friend who owns an orchard but I managed to pick some on another orchard. I went with my husband and son to pick 36 (!) pounds of peaches and about slightly less than 10 pounds of nectarines. We had gone crazy was an understatement. The problem with going to u-pick is always on how to reign the uncontrollable desire to pick every fruit on the trees. I didn't even know if I wanted to deal with so many peaches because I kept changing my mind on how I wanted to process the peaches. Don't I sound so gluttonous and indecisive? And talk about tree-ripened peaches, oh boy...they're not going to last forever before they start to go mushy and moldy.
But all went well at the end. We ate some fresh ones, drank endless but yummy smoothies; I froze some and also baked this peach and cream cheese slab pie. The idea was an apple-cheese danish from a magazine and I was pretty sure it could be made with fresh peaches as well. Now, I always have frozen puff pastry in the freezer--make it homemade if you want it--but it's much easier and a snap to make with a store-bought one especially if you're pressed in time. My suggestion is to make this early on the day because you want to eat it the day it's made to make sure the pastry stays crispy. And make sure the peaches are nicely ripe but still slightly firm, that way they'll keep their structures in the pie. Other than that, the pie is stupendously delicious!
Peach and Cream Cheese Slab Pie
Makes 12 servings
1 17.3 ounce package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
2 1/2 pounds fresh peaches, ripe but slightly firm; peeled and thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coarse sugar--I used demerara sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Lightly grease a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, unfold one pastry sheet and roll into a 15x10-inch rectangle. Transfer to the prepared baking pan, pressing pastry to edges of pan. Bake about 12 minutes or until golden (pastry will puff and shrink from sides of pan). Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, combine peaches with 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Toss gently and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla just until combined. Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over baked pastry to within 1 inch of the edges. Spoon peach mixture over cream cheese mixture.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold the remaining pastry sheet and roll into a 13x10-inch rectangle (make sure pastry is large enough to completely cover peach mixture). Place on top of peach mixture. Lightly press edges of top pastry to edges of bottom pastry. Lightly brush top pastry with milk. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in pastry to allow steam to escape. In a small bowl combine coarse sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over pastry.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until pastry is slightly puffed and golden. Cool on wire rack about 45 minutes. Serve slightly warm.
Source: adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Fall Baking 2013