If this doesn’t scream summer, then I don’t know what does. I have a fondness for this little dessert, which I affectionately call my “trashy peach tart” due to it being made with canned peaches. Canned fruit is a little tacky, right? Try as it may, canned fruits never seems to actually taste like their fresh fruit counterparts. Some come close – pears in a can taste like poached pears, pineapples come reasonably close to real pineapple taste minus some of the tartness – but the peaches? Different in every conceivable way. That being said, I’m a kid from the seventies/eighties, and canned fruit things were a staple in our lunch boxes. For me, peaches topped my list. I’m not ashamed. As a grown-up, I love fresh fruit, especially peaches, but a not quite ripe peach is a flavorless one, and I don’t always like to wait. This is how I get my peach fix before the perfectly ripened peaches hit the markets. This is also how I get my “I miss being a kid in the seventies/eighties” fix. Because, really, who doesn’t miss that.
The best thing about this tart is the ease in which it comes together. I’ve said it before; I’m a tart girl. I like pies too, but I enjoy tarts for their fruit-to-crust ratio. Tarts stay put, they don’t goosh out all over the place when you’re trying to cut them; it’s like a big, soft shortbread cookie with fruit on top, really. This particular tart is composed of a time-tested recipe I have used perhaps a billion times by now and absolutely love. It’s simple to put together – ingredients, food processor whiz, refrigerate, done – and you blind bake it so there’s no soggy crust worries. You can also customize the flavor if you want, and I’ll tell you how to do that below. I like the straightforward crust with the peaches, but the vanilla version is good too, especially if you want more of a ‘cookie’ flavor.
While your crust is either chilling or being pre-baked, you can mix up your peach filling. Again, this takes no time, and it’s only a few ingredients you’ll almost certainly have in your pantry. Another nice thing about canned peaches is that they are already sort of pie-like; no fretting over peaches being soft enough after 30 minutes of baking.
Hot, bubbly peaches; crust stars optional. I make mine out of the edges of dough which overhang the tart shell. Truly, you could do nothing on top if you want. I wouldn’t recommend a whole top crust, however; after all, you’re working with a tart dough, not a pie dough. Tart doughs aren’t designed to be top crusts. Furthermore, I personally think you throw your crust-to-fruit ratio way off, making it more of a fruit-filled cookie (Hostess Peach Pie, anyone?) than a tart.
Now all I can think about is Hostess Peach Pies.
Okay: so in truth, this tastes a lot like one of those. And who’s surprised by that, right? Not me. Slightly embarrassed, perhaps. But not at all surprised.
Since I’m already thinking of ways to duplicate the Hostess Cherry Pie, I’ll leave you with the recipe.
Tart Crust adapted from Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking: Recipes and Techniques for Successful Home Baking. I bet Chuck Williams makes a ‘special’ phone call to me if he finds out I’m using their master recipe tart dough for this tart. Let’s not tell him for right now. Because I don’t want to live in a world where I’m banned from Williams Sonoma.
Peach Filling adapted from “Aretha Franklin’s Peach Cobbler”, seen years ago on an Emeril Lagasse show and found right here.
Trashy Peach Tart
for the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional; for vanilla tart crust option)
for the filling:
- 3 15-ounce cans (or thereabouts) sliced peaches, drained
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, divided in half (cut 4 tablespoons into cubes and keep cold)
- 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I use store-bought because for this recipe, they work best)
make your tart dough:
Combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse in 1-second intervals about 8-10 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs and looks like wet sand. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks and cream together with a fork (and if using vanilla, add it now). With the food processor running, add the egg mixture and process just until the dough begins to come together and form a ball.
On a work surface and using your hands, shape the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
bake your tart dough:
The beauty of this recipe is the blind-baked tart dough. And if you’ve never done that, it’s simple. I should admit here that I am just about the most horrid dough-roller and lifter on the planet, so this is my way to do it so as not to have a large-scale meltdown every time I want to bake something involving a crust.
When your tart dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and let stand about 10 or so minutes until warm enough to roll out. Grab a piece of wax paper large enough to hold your rolled-out tart dough and lightly sprinkle it with flour. Placing the dough on the wax paper, roll from the center out, rotating your wax paper surface as you go to get an even circle or square (depending on what tart pan you’re using).
When it’s the size you need it, lift the dough using the wax paper as a handle and flip it right into your tart pan, pressing it in tightly to all corners and up the sides. If you have edges that overhang, use a thin-bladed knife and trim them off. Those edges can be cut into decorations or discarded. Put the crust in the freezer to chill, about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
Remove chilled crust from freezer and line the inside with foil, making sure to go up and over the sides; you don’t want burned edges. Fill with pie weights (fancypants!), dried beans, or uncooked rice to keep your crust from poofing up.
Bake until the crust is dry and no longer shiny, about 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes your crust is still a little wet-looking, remove the foil and place back in oven, checking ever 2 minutes until done. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 350˚F.
Note: It doesn’t have to be completely cooled to fill with peaches; I usually take it out of the oven, start the peaches, and when they’re done, I fill the tart shell and pop it right back in the oven.
It’s filling time:
Place peaches, sugar, 1/2 stick of the butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring to incorporate, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, stir in bread crumbs and remove from heat.
Pour into your pre-baked tart crust and spread out so the filling, especially the peach chunks, are evenly disbursed. Decorate with leftover tart dough shapes, or not. Sprinkle the top with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and place cubes the remaining cold butter (the rest of your stick) around the top. Place in oven and bake until bubbly and crust is golden, 25-30 minutes.