09 August 2014

Form and ease

Is there anything that could go wrong when sweet oven-caramelized August peaches enter the mix? If there was I didn't have the time or care to think about it. I wanted ease, and Amanda Hesser's peach tart is the summer wildcard among seasonal fruit pies and I can't help sharing it here. It's one every cook should try when peaches are piling at the markets, dessert is in order and time is of the essence. Here, rather than a shortcrust, you have a tender/crumbly pat-in crust featuring light olive oil, almond extract and milk, a crust much more likely to be pulled off on a hot weeknight or pulled together for a gathering when you've got lots of other things on your mind. 

The tart is easy-peasy but still requires an eye. After you pat in the fragrant almond-scented crust, you arrange the peaches, then shower it with a sugar crumble that is hinted with just a touch of butter and flour; that becomes the gelling agent for the peaches. I added orange zest to the crumble, too, and did not regret it. You'll want to still treat your crust lightly and bake it until those peach juices are bubbling. Then cool it well on a rack before cutting and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side. It's worth mentioning that the last two slices were a decadent addition to a late breakfast the next day along with fruit, coffee and an egg or two. Lightly wrapped in parchment and foil, it held up fine on the table. 

Amanda's Peach Tart (adapted from Food52)

Notes: I must enjoy keeping my math sharp and my kitchen shelves minimalistic, so I reduced the original recipe by about a third to fit into my 8-inch tart pan. The original specifies an 11 inch, so if that's what you've got, go with that one. If you have what I have, I have you covered. I love the 8-inch pan. It's big enough to give a bit of leftovers but small enough for a mini-household. I found these ratios the perfect size for my pan. Amanda has great photos on the linked recipe page of steps. 

140 grams/ 1 c + 2 Tb all purpose flour
scant 1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp natural cane sugar
6 Tbsp light/mild olive oil, vegetable oil or combo (I used 5 Tb light olive/1 Tb liquid coconut oil)
1.5 Tbs milk (I used half-and-half)
1/4 tsp almond extract

2 medium, ripe peaches, thickly sliced 

Pinch orange zest
16 grams/ 1.5 Tbsp flour
100 grams/ scant 9 Tbsp natural cane sugar
scant 1/4 tsp salt
21 grams/ 1.5 Tb cold butter

Oven to 425

Stir together crust ingredients: flour, salt, sugar in a bowl. Whisk oil, extract and milk separately. Pour into flour mix and mix gently with a fork. Just to dampen, do not over work. Transfer moist clumps to an 8 inch tart pan. Use hands to pat dough so it covers bottom, and sides to meet the edge. Go for about 1/8 inch thick all around. 

Lay peaches snuggly, concentrically, and place a few slices in the center. Combine topping ingredients in a bowl and pinch butter in until crumbly. Shower this mix over the peaches. Note that if you have very juicy peaches you may want 1-2 teaspoons more flour in the topping. Bake 35-45 mins, until shiny thick bubbles begin to appear and the crust is light brown. Cool on a rack. 

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