Another weekend has evaporated into golden nothing whilst I was busy rummaging in my spice cupboard. Lurking behind the cardamom and tarragon, I rediscovered a charming little blue bottle of rosewater that I’d carted all the way from Seattle. In my humble kitchen, this is often the kind of seemingly random inspiration that sparks serendipitous culinary invention.
For several days I’d been staring a bowl of peaches in the face as they wrinkled into what increasingly resembled a certain male body part. As my mother always said, however, just because it’s a bit ugly doesn’t mean it won’t taste good (this is the peaches we’re discussing here people, get your minds out to of the gutter).
Though slightly past their prime, the peaches held their shape nicely and proved absolute perfection for a simple tart. I whipped it together Saturday morning in under an hour and we whittled thin slices off it all weekend. The crust is adapted from Mark Bittman’s “Rich Tart Crust” but the filling is entirely my own. The almond extract gives a warm nutty undertone to the tart.
Rather naively, I’d left a sieve full of powdered sugar unguarded on the counter while I attended to some other business. Sita made quick work of a good portion before I even knew what was afoot, though she was less quick about cleaning up the evidence. Oh the joys of white sugar on black kitty fur.
As a brief side note, I will be heading to the Northwest tomorrow on yet another last minute trip (the only way my family rolls). So, beginning on Wednesday, for about the next week I will be posting from Whidbey Island! Baisers mes chéris and enjoy the tarte!
Tarte aux Pêches
Ingredients for the tart crust:
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into manageable pieces
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp. cold water
Makes 1 generous 10” crust.
Ingredients for the filling:
- 2+ cups peaches in ½ slices
- 1-2 tsp. rosewater
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- Dash of nutmeg
- Dash of clove
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. melted butter
- Approx 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar for dusting top
Method for the crust:
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the egg yolks and mix until combined. Transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl and sprinkle with the water. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, gather the dough into a ball as best you can. If the dough is too dry, sprinkle with a bit more water. If it seems sticky, add a bit more flour. Use your hands only very briefly to finish off the ball. Wrap the dough in plastic, press into a disc and refrigerate for about 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Method for the filling:
Slice the peaches into a medium sized mixing bowl and sprinkle with the rosewater, almond extract, and spices. Drizzle on the honey in as thin a stream as possible to assure even distribution. Toss gently with your hands until the peaches are well coated. Set aside in a cool place while you roll out the crust.
Building the tart:
Roll out the dough into a rough 10” circle – part of the beauty of tarts is that they are rustic and need not be perfectly shaped. Transfer the crust to a prepared baking pan (this can be a tart pan, pizza pan or large baking sheet). Place the pan and crust in the freezer for about 5 minutes to allow the buttered to reharden.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the crust from the freezer and begin arranging the peaches. You could likely throw the slices on any which way and still have a tasty tart, but there is much to be said for the beauty of this simple dessert. I start in the center of the crust and arrange the slices into a loose pinwheel (all slices should face the same direction). I then nest the slices for consecutive rings into the spaces of the former. The goal is to end up with a radiating sun of peach slices, stopping about 1 inch shy of the edge. Drizzle any leftover juices from the mixing bowl evenly over the fruit.
Once the peaches are arranged, fold the edge of the crust back in on itself and over the ends of the outer ring. Finally, brush the crust and peaches with the melted butter. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and dust with powdered sugar before serving.