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Peach Tart Tested Recipe

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Peach Tart Recipe

This Peach Tart is the perfect combination of buttery crisp pastry and sweet peaches. The peaches are not peeled for this rustic European dessert, they are just cut into wedges, lightly salted and sweetened with sugar, and placed on a platform of pastry. This tart looks lovely when pulled from the oven, with its pastry all brown and crisp, and the peaches all soft and sweet, with lightly caramelized edges. Excellent served warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

The pastry used for this peach tart is Pate Brisee, pronounced 'paht bree-ZAY' which is a French short crust pastry dough made from a mixture of flour, a little sugar, salt, butter, and ice water. It has a high ratio of fat to flour which gives the pastry its crisp and crumbly texture and buttery flavor. It is the perfect backdrop for fresh fruit at its prime. Since this peach tart is best served within an hour after it is baked, planning is needed. On the morning of the day I will be serving this tart, I like to make the pastry, chill it, and roll it into a large square. I then place the square of pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet and return it to the refrigerator. Since it takes anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes for this tart to bake, a couple of hours before I want to serve this peach tart, I cut the peaches into slices, adding both salt (to bring out and heighten the peach's flavor) and sugar (to sweeten the peaches), and arrange them on the pastry. Then I bake the tart. It looks wonderful when pulled from the oven. The pastry has become brown and crisp, and the peaches have released their juices and become soft with slightly caramelized edges. While at its best served within a few hours of baking, leftovers can be covered and refrigerated overnight.

Peaches are the focus of this tart, so we need to talk about this lovely fruit. There are two types of peaches, 'Clingstone' and 'Freestone', with many varieties within each classification. The names (Clingstone and Freestone) refer to how easily the flesh of the peach separates from its stone. The Clingstone (available in late spring/early summer), is exactly that, the flesh clings stubbornly to the central stone or pit. Freestones (available late summer) have a flesh that is easily separated from the stone. For this tart I prefer the Freestone variety (either white or yellow flesh), which makes cutting the peach into slices very easy. I do not peel the peaches as I think the skin looks nice and adds both texture and flavor. What is important is that the peach be of high quality. When buying peaches, smell and feel each peach. The peaches should smell of peaches and feel firm, yet have a slight give when you press gently on its shoulders. Make sure there are no bruises, cuts, or soft patches on the peaches. To read more on peaches click here. Other great peach recipes to try are: Peach Cobbler, Peach Pie, and Peach Galette.

 

Short Crust Pastry: In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup (30 ml) water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until the pastry just holds together when pinched. Add remaining water, if necessary. Do not process more than about 30 seconds.

Turn the pastry out onto your work surface, gather it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour to chill the butter and allow the gluten in the flour to relax. 

Once the pastry has chilled, remove from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 14 inch (35 cm) square. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). Transfer the pastry to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover and place in the refrigerator while you slice the peaches.

Peach Filling: Wash and rub the peaches to remove any fuzz. Cut the peach following the suture from stem to blossom end and then up the opposite side. Gently twist the two halves of the peach and it should easily separate. Remove the seed and cut into 3/4 - 1 inch (2.5 cm) slices. You will need about 4 cups (1 pound) (454 grams) of sliced peaches. Place the peach slices in a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Then add about 3 to 4 tablespoons (30 - 40 grams) of granulated white sugar, or to taste. Arrange peach slices randomly on the pastry, leaving about a two inch (5 cm) wide border. Scrape any remaining sugar from the bowl and sprinkle over the peaches. Gently fold the edges of the pastry up and over the peaches, pleating as necessary. Make sure to seal any cracks in the pastry.

Bake the tart in a preheated 425 degree F (220 degree C) oven for about 35 - 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Reduce heat by 25 degrees (4 degree C) if the pastry starts to burn. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Best served warm, within an hour of baking, with vanilla ice cream.

Makes one - 12 inch (30 cm) tart.

References:

Rodgers, Judy. The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. W.W. Norton & Company. New York: 2002.

Waters, Alice. Chez Panisse Fruit. Harper Collins Publishers. New York: 2002.

Short Crust Pastry:

1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces

1/8 to 1/4 cup (30 - 60 ml) ice water

Peach Filling:

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) fresh ripe peaches

2-3 tablespoons (30-40 grams) granulated white sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

 

 
 
     
 

 

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