Peach Tart

August is when the peaches start to appear in the marketplace, and so I decided to make a peach dessert. There is a recipe in Marlys’s Recipe book for a Peach Tart, and since I had lots of success with the Strawberry Devonshire Tart, I thought a Peach Tart would be fun and easy.

The first time I made the peach tart, I had a downright failure. When I went to serve it to friends and kin, the bottom crust had disappeared. What an embarrassing mess! But, I don’t give up when I mess up; I instead try to learn from the experience and give you hints about how to avoid the problems I had in learning the recipe. My second attempt came out perfectly; I cooked the crust longer than the recipe said.

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My first problems were not even with the recipe- I didn’t know what a tart pan was, and I was going to use a spring-form pan. The recipe calls for a 12 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, and I couldn’t find a 12 inch pan of any form in the cupboards. Daughter Mindy put me straight, and I went out looking for a tart pan that was 12 inches in diameter and had a removable bottom. That big, they are scarce, and I went to several stores before finding the last one in a cake decorating store.

The mathematics says that if you can’t find a 12 inch tart pan, you could make the recipe in two pans; one an 8 inch pan and one a 9 inch pan. Of course, you would now have the problem of proportioning the crust and filling out into the two slightly uneven sub-tarts.

I think my biggest problem the first time I made this tart was that I was too much guided by the cook times, and not by the cooking results for the crust. The problem was that the crust was not cooked through, and then it didn’t hold the filling and even dissolved into the filling as the whole tart was cooking.

After discussing the whole thing with Mindy, I learned that the recipe was from Caprial Pence, so it wasn’t mine to publish without explicit permission; it hadn’t yet been credited to Caprial in Marlys’s Recipe book. If you would like that recipe, it is here

I decided that there were several reasons to make my own recipe for a Peach Tart, and that is what I am giving you here. First, most people don’t have a 12 inch tart or pie pan. Then, a 12 inch tart has several problems, for example, who has a nice flat plate large enough for a 12 inch pie? Finally, when you serve a slice of a 12 inch tart, you need a small dinner plate instead of a dessert plate. The Caprial recipe called for crystalized ginger – I felt that I should try for more common ingredients although in taste testing, we ended up feeling ginger root was better than ground ginger. Finally, the recipe called for just little bits of heavy cream, so unless you use heavy cream often, you are again having to wonder how to use up the rest of the pint. I felt I could fix these issues.

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Peach Tart a la Errol

Pastry

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger root*
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shortening.

* if you don’t want to buy and grate ginger root, substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

While this is a tart, and works nicely in a tart pan with a removable bottom, it can also be made and served in a regular pie pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place flour, ginger, sugars and vanilla in a food processor. Start the food processor and add the shortening about 1 Tablespoon at a time.
Remove and press into an 8 or 9 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Cool the tart shell before continuing.

Filling:

  • 2 peaches peeled and sliced (see hints below)
  • 3 Tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch allspice
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp grated ginger root
  • 1/8 tsp rum or almond extract.

To peel peaches, it is easiest if they are ripe; test this by pressing lightly around the stem end. A ripe peach will have some give around the stem end. If the peaches are not ripe, then you must peel them the hard way- I use a vegetable peeler like I use on carrots. However, for ripe peaches, I recommend using a blanching technique. You need two pots of water – one boiling and one as cold as possible. Using a slotted spoon, put a peach into the boiling water for 40-50 seconds. Lift it out and quickly into the cold water to stop the cooking. Now take it out and puncture the skin around the stem end and it should just peel right off.

To slice the peaches, start by cutting from the stem end half way around with a paring knife. Then, make a second cut in the same manner, but over at the equator of the peach by the width you want for the wedge- about 1/4 inch. After you have made about 4 of these cuts, you will feel the wedges starting to come loose. Usually they need just a little help at the end opposite the stem. Lift them out one at a time. Then, continue making wedges and lifting them out.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange wedges of peaches in concentric circles in the cool tart shell. Process in a bowl with a whisk, or a hand mixer, the cream cheese, butter, milk, and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, then spices and extract. Pour over peaches but don’t overflow the crust- you may have some custard left. foil the edges of the crust so it doesn’t burn.

Bake 30 minutes, or until brown at the edges.

Some recipes suggest serving a peach tart with a dollop of whip cream (Creme Chantilly, Rediwhip, CoolWhip) or with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

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While the directions call for making the crust dough in a food processor, I have successfully made the dough in a stand mixer. In that case, start by creaming the shortenings and sugars, and the ginger and vanilla, and then add the flour a little at a time. The dough is very dry, so it can be worked by hand to press into the pan and up the sides. Just be certain to completely cover the bottom and up the sides so that the custard doesn’t leak under the crust.

When all finished, you might have leftover pieces of both the peaches and the custard. I put mine together in a small casserole pan and cooked it beside the tart, giving me a crustless peach tart. It might not be nice enough for company, but it still tastes good!

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