Friday, September 23, 2011

Amanda Hesser's Peach Tart

It had to be a pretty amazing recipe to get me out of my blog funk, but this one did it. Behold the peach tart, both gorgeous and delicious.

When I bought 2 boxes ($4 worth) of peach seconds at the Farmers' Market last Saturday, I was thinking peach jam or perhaps a crumble. I definitely wasn't thinking about a tart, as I had never actually made a fruit tart before. But I'd noticed up at Food52 that in the contest between this tart and another, this one had won by a landslide, and I got curious. Then I started reading the overwhelmingly positive comments, and then I looked closely at the recipe--the olive oil dough that didn't need to be rolled out, the peaches that didn't need to be peeled, the need for no special equipment. It seemed just the thing to try on a chilly Sunday evening (with the added bonus of the oven being on to warm the kitchen up).

The problem turned out to be the peaches, which, oddly for seconds, weren't quite ripe. By the time I realized that, though, I was attached to the idea of a peach tart and so I gave up the week's eating peaches for the tart. A lesson learned--your peach tart is as good as the peaches you put in it. I'm sure a tart with the seconds would have been fine, but the tart using the better peaches was divine.

The recipe is both easy and unusual. The dough is slightly sweet and slightly salty, the fat provided by a mix of canola and olive oils. There are also 2 tbsp. of milk in there and some almond extract. It looked weird when I first put them in the bowl together (no photo, alas), but they whisked up into a thick, glossy liquid. The dough itself seemed a bit oily, and I was nervous as I pressed it into the pan and covered it with sliced peaches (unpeeled! no blanching!). The topping is a mix of sugar, flour and butter. Amanda Hesser noted that it would seem like a lot of topping, and, indeed, it seemed like a lot of topping.

But in the 35 minutes the tart spent in the oven, the topping melted and turned into a sweet, glossy sheen on top of the peaches. When I looked into the oven the first time, I couldn't believe that I--a person who is accustomed to making baked goods that are tasty but homely--had produced such a gorgeous tart.

I had no whipped cream to serve it with, but Alex and I ate it in silence. Silently, we appreciated the crisp, almond-tinged crust, the soft and just sweet enough peaches, the chewy caramelized bits at the edge of the tart. Until I began to complement my own cooking, and Alex went back into the kitchen and asked if I wanted anymore or could he finish it off. (He didn't really.) Still I was given a stern warning: "Don't bring the rest of this to work!" he said. Point taken.

I am hoping devoutly that there will be at least one more week of peaches, and if there are, I will make this again, perhaps with whipped cream this time. But now that I know how easy this is, I am looking forward to using this tart formula for other kinds of fruit--apples, perhaps, or plums, and in the summer, some kind of peach-berry combination. As Amanda Hesser says in her introduction to this recipe on Food 52, "Every cook needs a good dessert recipe that can be whipped up anywhere." I think this one has just become mine.

Amanda Hesser's Peach Tart
from Food 52

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk and almond extract. Pour the oil mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not over work it. Then, transfer the dough to an 11-inch tart pan (or whatever similar pan you have on hand), and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan, pushing it up the sides to meet the edge. (Mine didn't go very far up the sides, but I sacrificed that so it wouldn't have holes in the bottom. Hesser says the dough should be 1/8 inch thick.)
  2. In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter. (Add an additional tbsp. of flour if you have especially juicy peaches.) Pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly.
  3. Starting on the outside, arrange the peaches overlapping in a concentric circle over the pastry; fill in the center in whatever pattern makes sense. The peaches should fit snugly. Sprinkle the pebbly butter mixture over top (it will seem like a lot). Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until shiny, thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is slightly brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature, preferably with generous dollops of whipped cream


Anjuli said...

This recipe looks great- and the pictures of the completed project really delicious!!! I was just thinking I would like to try some type of fruit tart- and now I come and read of this!!

kerry dexter said...

this sounds and looks very tasty. I've done pie crust with oil before, so maybe this will be similar...
when you do try other fruits, I hope yuo'll let us in on the results.

Sue Dickman said...

Kerry, I remember you mentioning making oil pie crusts! What I liked especially about this one was not having to roll it out!

And Anjuli, you should definitely try it. So easy and so good.

Evelyn said...

I have been making this tart for a few years. It is a family favorite! I wanted to share it, but did not feel like copying it out of the book (2 kids, no time), so thank you for writing it out! Delicious, no?

Anonymous said...

nice idea. thanks for sharing...

Chiquita said...

This is fantastic!