January is peach season in Australia and on the farm. Although there is nothing better than fresh, ripe peaches eaten straight from the tree, they are also delicious used in both savory and sweet dishes.
This simple peach dessert, can be whipped up in no time, requires little skill and will always taste heavenly. It is based on the rustic free-form tarts of France and Italy known as a galette and crostata.
Makes 8 Serves
Ingredients – Pastry
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons castor sugar
85 grams cold unsalted butter (cubed)
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup ice water
Ingredients – Filling
4 to 5 peaches (depending on size)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A good pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon of apricot jam
2 tablespoons of Demerara or granulated sugar – optional
1. Place flour, sugar, butter and salt into a food processor and pulse until ingredients resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add the water and pulse so the dough comes together.
2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and work it so it comes together into a ball.
3. Flatten the ball and wrap in plastic film and place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
To Skin Peaches
4. Place a pot of water (deep enough to cover the peaches) onto the stove top and bring to boil.
5. Slice a cross into the top of each peach (cutting through the outer skin) – the top is the pointy end of the peach and place into the boiling water.
6. Boil for 1½ minutes and then remove to a bowl filled with cold water.
7. Using your fingers, gradually peel the outer skin away from the peach flesh.
The harder (unripe) the peaches are the longer they will need to sit in the boiling water.
8. Once all the peaches have been skinned, use a shape knife to cut wedges into the flesh of the peach and gently remove it from the central stone. Place wedges into a bowl and repeat until all the peaches are cut into wedges.
9. Combine brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and plain flour to the peach wedges and gently stir so the wedges a coated.
10. Remove pastry from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured bench and gently roll the disc of dough with a rolling pin so it thins and gets larger. You want to create a disc approximately 20 cm round and 3 mm thick.
When trying to roll short-crust pastry thinly it sometimes helps to place it between two sheets of baking paper. This alleviates the need to keep adding flour to prevent the sheet from sticking as well as making it easier to rotate and lift.
11. Place the thinned disc of pastry onto a baking paper lined tray and gradually spoon the peach wedges and syrup into the central area of the pastry. It is essential that you leave a 5 to 6 cm clean border of pastry (free from the peach wedges) as you need to fold and crimp the pastry over the peaches to create a holding area to capture the juices created during the cooking stage.
12. Brush the exposed pastry with some apricot jam and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
13. Place tart into a pre-heated oven at 180° C and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until pastry is golden brown, and peaches have browned and softened.
14. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then slice. Serve with cream or ice-cream and a light dusting of icing sugar.
You can also make this tart in a fluted tart tin if you prefer a more formal look to the tart.