Not long ago I spent the day with a friend and her family peach picking at a New Jersey orchard. While I have been berry and apple picking in the past, this was my first time picking peaches. It was a hot but fun day, and we both got plenty of peaches to whip up some baked goods a few days later.
I made both Peach Ice Cream and an Almond Peach Tart. Below is a recipe for the tart. The crust is a dream, because it’s not the kind you have to roll out and perfectly assemble. Also, the tart has a creamy component, which makes it different than most standard tarts. In fact, if you’re like me and find that you got “super duper mega strong” cling peaches and they absolutely refuse to slice into attractive little slivers, the crumb topping and creamy filling will disguise the imperfections. Give it a try, I think you’ll like it.
On an unrelated note, I also recently had the opportunity to attend a Neapolitan Pizza Making class especially for NYC food bloggers at 180 Neapolitan Eatery. (Disclaimer: we had to agree to include this experience in a blog post. This inclusion is compulsory; these opinions are my own.) Here we learned the history and techniques of a Neapolitan pizza. Did you know that in order to call your pizza “Neapolitan” you must pass careful muster of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana? This association oversees the pizza, not dissimilar to Rabbis overseeing the production of Kosher food.
In order to make true Neapolitan pizza, you must use “00” flour (highly refined to eliminate bran and germ), handmade dough (no rolling pins, no gloves on your hands), San Marzano tomatoes, and non-processed mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. The crust must be 1-2 centimeters thick, the oven 900 degrees F, and the cooking time no more than 90 seconds!
The class was a good time, and I can see it being a fun way to celebrate a birthday or special occasions with a group of friends. Here’s a picture:
Now that you’re all starving for a delicious thin crust pizza, I turn back to our “regular programming” and tempt you with some peach tart!
Almond Peach Tart
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours
For the bottom crust:
1 ¼ c all-purpose flour
¼ c finely ground almonds
½ c powdered sugar
¼ t salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 T) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
For the Streusel:
2 T all-purpose flour
2 T packed light brown sugar
2 T chopped almonds
2 T cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
For the Filling:
3 large ripe peaches, halved, pitted and peeled
½ c heavy cream
1 large egg
¼ c sugar
1/8 t pure almond extract
Powdered sugar, for dusting
For the bottom crust:
- Using a pastry cutter or food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar, salt, and butter until the butter is coarsely cut in. You should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk and add it a little at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
- Once the egg is incorporated, further work the dough (either with the pastry cutter or by long pulses with the food processor) until the dough forms clumps and curds.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
- Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan (with or without a removable bottom, your choice). Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.)
- Put the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan). NOTE: to patch a crust, use some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. Bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.
To Make the Streusel:
- Working with your fingertips, blend all the ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined. Cover the streusel tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. (Wrapped well, the streusel can be refrigerated for up to 2 days).
To Make the Tart:
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Cut peaches into thin slivers (semi circles), approximately ¼ inch thick, and arrange in concentric circles on top of the tart.
- Whisk the cream, egg, sugar and almond extract together in a small bowl. When blended, rap the bowl on the counter to knock out the air bubbles, and pour the filling over and around the peaches.
- Bake the tart for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the tart for another 20 minutes, at which point you should add the streusel.
- Remove the streusel from the refrigerator and, using your fingers, break it up into small bits. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the creamy parts of the tart.
- Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes (total baking time is 50 to 55 minutes), or until the filling is set and the streusel is golden. Remove the tart from the oven and transfer the pan to a rack to cool until barely warm or at room temperature. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
- To Peel Peaches: Blanch peaches for 10 seconds in a pot of boiling water, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool, then slip off the skins.
- The tart can be refrigerated overnight; cover it to protect it from drying and from odors.
- If well wrapped, the bottom crust can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.