Full of fruit and with only a little sugar, this tart should tell the story of the rich flavour of the peach
Ripe peaches should smell delicious and give a little when pressed. We have used white peaches for the tart but if you can find an heirloom variety at a farmer’s market all the better. The Heritage Fruits Society has an overwhelming list of varieties. The peaches all have names like racehorses: Stump the World, Orion, Early Admirable, Garnet Beauty, Lemon Cling. Their descriptions vary wildy. Peaches of: “enormous size – nine inches in circumference”, “large greenish-white, mottled with red”, “a rich and very delicious peach”, “fruit large and almost round; greenish skin with dark red cheek”, “a fine, large yellow cling, no colour at pit, which is very small”.
I’d love to bite into the white and juicy flesh of a Stump the World, but peaches being one of those very delicate things to ship, bruising easily, heirloom varieties are difficult to source. Right now, old peach trees are fruiting in our northern suburb in Melbourne, planted by the Greek and Italians who are still a predominant part of the community. These old trees are often unusual varieties and it pays to make friends with elderly neighbours who may need a helping hand harvesting.
Aside from peaches this tart can also be made with any stone fruit. Apricots and nectarines are lovely in it and blueberries could easily replace the blackberries. Look for little fruit as they’ll cook quicker in the tart and big ones may need to be trimmed if the halves are too tall. The halves should be level with the pastry top.
My Swiss neighbour always made tarts like these in the summer. They’re a common treat in Switzerland, often being sold by the slice. Full of fruit and with only a little sugar, the tarts should tell the story of the rich flavour of the peach.
White peach and blackberry tart
For the pastry
plain flour 200g
diced unsalted butter, cold 100g
pinch of salt
For the filling
dry roasted almonds 100g (processed to a rough meal or chopped finely by hand)
eggs 3 (beaten lightly with a fork)
vanilla bean seeds 1 tsp (scraped out of the bean)
caster sugar 4 tbsp
white peaches 750g (pitted and sliced in half)
handful of blackberriesPrepare your pastry in a food processor. Blend flour, butter and salt until it forms a sand-like texture. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture begins to come together. (You can do this without a processor, just rub the butter and flour together until it forms the sand-like texture then add the water and mix.)
The dough should form a ball when pressed together. Cover in cling film and refrigerate for half an hour.
Prepare your tart tin by greasing with a little butter. Flour your rolling pin and your surface. Roll out the pastry, making sure to flip it regularly to make sure it doesn’t stick to the surface.
When it’s a circle bigger than your tart tin, taking into account its sides, lift the pastry gently over the tin. (A good trick here is to gently roll the pastry around the rolling pin, then out again over the tin.) Press the pastry into the tin. Roll the rolling pin over the edges to cut the excess pastry neatly off.
Cover in cling film and refrigerate the pastry, in the tin, for half an hour. This will stop your pastry shrinking in the oven. (You could do this stage the day before.) Preheat the oven to 190C.
Blind bake your pastry for 15 minutes, with baking paper weighted with beans or rice. After 15 minutes take off the baking paper and beans and cook the pastry shell until golden, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and cool.
Turn your oven up to 200C. Mix together the eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla.
Sprinkle the nuts over the tart base. Arrange your peaches face up, and dot the blackberries over and in between the peaches. Pour the creamy mixture over the fruit, making sure to get some liquid where the pits were in the peaches.
Transfer carefully to the oven and bake on 200C for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes turn the oven down to 180 and cook for another half an hour, or until the tart looks firm, the tops of the peaches are golden, caramelised and beautiful.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. Refrigerate if you’d like the slices firm and easy to cut.
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image: © Janet Hudson