Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser shares her essential, easy-as-can-be peach tart that requires nothing more than a knife, a bowl, and a pan.
Every cook needs a good dessert recipe that can be whipped up anywhere -- especially when you're away from your kitchen and its mixer and rolling pin and comforting gadgets. This peach tart is that recipe for me. To make it all you need is a knife, a bowl, and some kind of pan. A tart pan ideally, but I've even made it on a baking sheet with one side shored up with aluminum foil. And when I've been without a bowl, I've mixed the dough right in the pan.
The dough is made with oil, milk and almond extract, and is pressed into the pan. There is no blind baking nonsense. You just top the dough with the peaches, and then shower it with a sugary, salty crumble and send it on its merry way into the oven.
I got the original recipe from my mother, who uses all vegetable oil in the crust. I use half vegetable oil and half olive oil. She neatly peels her peaches. Lazy kin, I do not. Hers is probably better, but you are stuck with me. I can promise you, however, that whoever you serve this to will not mind.
Makes one 11-inch tart; serves 8
1 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup mild olive oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
3 to 5 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch wide)
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. Stirring enables the salt and sugar to sift the flour, so you don't need to sift it in advance. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk and almond extract. Pour this 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 (you can use a smaller one if needed), 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. This will work if you pat firmly and confidently, but not if you curl your fingertips into the dough. It should be about 1/ 8-inch thick all around; trim and discard excess dough.
2. In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter. (If your peaches are especially juicy, add 1 tablespoon additional flour.) Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, with a mixture of fine granules and tiny pebbles.
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.
Photos by James Ransom