Chow Town

Staying fit easy to do in a bakery

Rugelach dough for Rustic Peach and Thyme Tart
Rugelach dough for Rustic Peach and Thyme Tart Special to The Star

Do you know how many times people ask the Dolce babes and me if they can trust us because we are not fuller-figured?

It’s the funniest thing, and we hear it all the time. We usually say something like, “Well, the sugar and flour come in 50-pound bags so we are actually working out all day.” Or, “We don’t really sit down around here.” Or, “Have you seen the size of the batches of dough we have to lift into our mixers?!”

The truth is that there is so much that goes on behind our kitchen door that most people don’t see.

We start before the sun is up and we bake, egg wash, mix, sprinkle, fold, weigh out, temper, combine, cut, base ice, test (eat) and roll out all day long. Is anyone going to start on that rack full of dirty dishes?

Just as we get in to a therapeutic rhythm of folding croissant dough, a delivery arrives at the back door. We have to stop everything and check it in, put it away, and get back to the floury project at hand.

In the office, we might sit to answer a customer email, but never for long. As soon as we hit send, there is someone at the counter dropping off sonogram results so we can bake their gender-reveal cake. We happily accept the top-secret news and run back to the kitchen to take a peek.

Front of House/Café work is full of different on-your-feet tasks. There are boxes to be folded, adorable kiddos to help as they point and squeal about their picks, tables to wipe, coffee to brew (and drink), regulars to chat with and cinnamon roll seekers to serve. We just don’t stop.

Are you tired yet?

Let’s use up all of the glorious local peaches and make a rustic tart. I’ve loved this rugelach dough recipe for years. It is really easy to toss together, so forgiving, and very versatile. Keep a couple of discs in your freezer for a quick last-minute dessert. Rustic means free-form and awesome. Nectarines work so well here, too.

Rustic Peach and Thyme Tart

For the rugelach dough

This will make enough dough for about 4 large tarts or tons of individual tarts. If you don’t bake it all at once, wrap the dough in plastic, place in a freezer bag, and freeze. To use, thaw in the refrigerator.

16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Cream butter, sugar and cream cheese together on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape down bowl. Combine flour and salt and add to creamed mixture in 2 additions. Mix on low speed just until combined. Do not over mix.

Turn dough onto a clean and lightly floured countertop. Gather and be sure everything is evenly combined. Split in to desired portions. (I use 10 to 12 ounces for large tarts and 2.5 ounces for small tarts.) Flatten lightly into disks. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 1-2 hours or overnight or freeze now if making ahead.

For the egg wash

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk and a tiny pinch of fine sea salt

Approximately 1/4 cup raw sugar (optional)

For the filling

2 1/2 to 3 large peaches (4-5 small)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (cold)

3-4 tablespoons local honey

Sprig of fresh thyme

Cut peaches into thick (about 1/4-inch) slices. Set aside. Whisk sugar, flour and sea salt. Sprinkle in almond extract. Set aside.

Large Tart Assembly

Split your dough into 2 portions. On a well-floured surface, roll one of the disks out to about a 12-inch circle. Carefully transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the sugar/flour mixture over the dough leaving a 2- to 3-inch border around the outside of the dough. Arrange sliced peaches on top of sugar/flour mixture in any pattern you like.

Fold up your edges and press together to seal. Patch any holes with a little bit of dough. Dot the peaches with your butter cubes.

Place tart into the freezer for about 20 minutes. Place racks in the center of the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly brush the crust with egg wash. If using, sprinkle lightly with raw sugar. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake 15 minutes more. Turn your pan and bake about another 8 minutes. Crust should be light golden brown.

I like to drizzle with a few teaspoons of local honey and scatter fresh thyme leaves over the warm tart. Vanilla ice cream is a must.

Erin Brown is a pastry chef and proprietor of Dolce Bakery in Prairie Village. Reach her at