Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart
Source: Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Serves 6 – 8
First off: Go make this. Get thee some ripe summer peaches and put them in this tart. It is so, so good. I made it a few weeks ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Second: If you’re itchin’ to make a somewhat complicated recipe, let me give you one piece of advice: read the recipe the whole way through before you start, and then when you’re working, take your time.
I had no major mishaps with this gorgeous dessert, but I did have a few hiccups — namely cooking at the wrong temp and not placing the tart on a cookie sheet. First, I preheated the oven to 375, prepared the recipe, and slipped the tart in. About five minutes later, I realized I had preheated the oven to the wrong temperature. It called for the tart to be cooked at 425 for 10 minutes, then to reduce the heat to 375. Whoopsie. I pulled the tart out and upped the temp to 425, then cooked the tart for 6 minutes (compromise? or experiment?) before I dropped the heat back down to 375. Then I read the next step of the recipe (sprinkling it with streusel after 20 minutes), and realized I hadn’t put the tart pan on a cookie sheet for easier maneuvering. Dang. But no matter; it turned out all right in the end.
There was no special occasion for this tart; I had ordered a 9-inch tart pan from Amazon, it arrived on a Saturday, and I decided to make a peach tart, since I had a heady-smelling peach. The recipe called for three peaches, though, and I only had one, so I picked up a few from the local market. Here is where you give me a piece of advice: how the hell do you know when a peach is ripe? Two of the peaches I picked up were hard and mealy. Sad! Fortunately, the one I already had at home was huge and amazingly sweet, so it took up most of the space in the tart. I ended up only needing that peach plus one-half more. So that was a boon, except for the money I wasted on the mealy, useless peaches.
But oh, what a treat this was for my inaugural tart-baking. Fruity, creamy, crunchy and buttery, with that warm, honeyed flavor that peaches get when cooked. If this tart didn’t take so long to make, I’d put it in my regular dessert rotation. One more piece of advice: make sure you save enough to refrigerate. It’s even better eaten the next day, chilled.
For the tart crust:
(The basic instructions are below, but I also used Smitten Kitchen’s tweaks and suggestions to make it unshrinkable)
1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 T. (9 T.) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
For the streusel:
2 T. flour
2 T. brown sugar, packed
2 T. chopped almonds
2 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
For the filling:
3 large peaches, peeled*, halved and pitted
1/2 C. heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 C. sugar
1/8 tsp. pure almond extract
To make the tart crust:
I used my food processor to make the crust, and it was incredibly easy. If you don’t have a food processor, just cut in the butter using two knives or a pastry blender. My instructions are going to assume you have one, though.
Place flour, sugar and salt in bowl of processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Scatter butter pieces over dry ingredients and pulse until butter is coarsely cut in (with some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas). Beat egg in separate bowl; slowly add beaten egg to processor bowl a little at a time and pulse. When the egg is added, process in two long 10-second pulses. Turn dough onto a work surface and gather dough into a ball, very lightly kneading just to get any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper or wax paper, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (Alternately, you can roll this out between two pieces of plastic, though flour the dough a bit anyway.) Using wax paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Tuck dough against the sides of the pan. Trim overhang to half an inch and use extra dough to patch any cracks or thin spots. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork, including the sides. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
Now it’s time to partially bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 375. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 minutes.
Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. (To fully bake it, bake for 15 additional minutes or until it’s firm and golden brown.) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.
To make the streusel:
Blend all ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined. (Just use your fingertips to crumble and mash the butter into the dry ingredients. It’s really easy this way!) Cover the streusel tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. It can be kept in the fridge for up to two days, if you’re working way ahead.
To make the custard and assemble the tart:
Preheat oven to 425. Place tart pan on a cookie sheet. Peel and slice peaches and arrange prettily (or haphazardly — as long as you’re happy with it, it doesn’t need to win a prize for aesthetic achievement) in the crust. In a small bowl, whisk together heavy cream, egg, sugar, and almond extract. Pour evenly over and around peaches in crust. Bake tart (which you will have easily moved to the oven using that handy cookie sheet you remembered) at 425 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375. Set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, sprinkle the tart with the streusel (which you should break up a bit first with your fingers). You can take the tart out of the oven on the cookie sheet to more easily sprinkle the streusel. Finally, bake the tart for another 20 – 25 minutes, or until the filling is set and the streusel is golden brown. This is a grand total of 50 – 55 minutes baking time. (IMO: If the crust seems to be darkening more quickly then you’d like, just let it — the browner the crust, the tastier the shortbread. If brown crusts make you nervous, though, feel free to cover the edges with foil.) Let tart cool to room temperature before serving. Et voila!
*This interesting tip was included in the cookbook: to easily peel peaches, blanch a peach in boiling water for 30-40 seconds, then plunge into an ice-water bath. The skins should slip right off. For me, this worked perfectly with the ripest, best peach. The other peaches were little mother-effers with resistant skins. I’m not sure if ripeness is the key, or if I just did it wrong. If you give it a try, let me know your results!