The same day I went blueberry picking, I also picked peaches. The peaches I picked that day are long gone--made into a plum sponge pudding (the recipe for which I will share with you one day) and devoured with vanilla ice cream--but the farm I went to started delivering to the co-op so I picked up a few more peaches Wednesday night. I have been wanting to make a fruit tart all summer and while berries are all well and good, when I saw the peaches I thought, "Peaches."
Somehow between going to the dentist this morning and going to work this afternoon, I managed to fit in my first peach tart trial. As usual, I read several recipes before jumping in and many of them--including Julia Child's, Paula Peck's, and one from this ancient Provençal book my sister gave me--put a layer of ground nuts between the crust and the fruit. Paula Peck adds cinnamon to the nuts and I followed her example. It is my guess that the nut layer acts as a barrier between the fruit and the crust, preventing the crust from becoming too soggy on the bottom. It is also delicious.
I was never quite sure why everybody insists on brushing fruit tarts with an apricot or currant glaze when they come out of the oven, but today I learned why. When my tarts came out of the oven the peaches, shiny and lovely when they went in, were lackluster; dull. The glaze restored their shine, their sheen, their peachy keen.
The real star, though, was the pastry. When making tarts, I usually just make a recipe of my go-to pie crust, but today I didn't. The recipe said, "rich tart pastry (230)," so I turned to page 230. The recipe called for 3 hard-cooked egg yolks so I had to try it. I am now completely convinced that hard-cooked egg yolks make the world go 'round. I had a clue after making Claudia Fleming's biscuits (thank you, Deb), which also call for hard-cooked egg yolks, but now I know. I took a bite of tart, an edge piece, and time stopped. My heart, my body, my everything melted as if in sympathetic reaction to what was happening in my mouth. It is a delicate pastry; it is a rich pastry; it is a heavenly pastry.
Rich Tart Pastry
thank you, Paula Peck
- 2 cups flour, sifted
- 3 Tbs. sugar
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. lemon zest, grated
- 3 hard-cooked egg yolks
- 2 raw egg yolks
- Sift flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of it and to it add the remaining ingredients, mashing the cooked yolks or passing them through a medium sieve. Using your finger tips, make a paste of the ingredients in the well and gradually incorporate the flour until a smooth, firm ball of dough is formed. Work quickly so the butter does not become oily. Chill the dough until it is firm enough to roll.
- Roll dough between sheets of wax paper. Once you have lined your tart pan(s), chill in the freezer before baking.
Enough for one 9-inch tart with a bit left over.
If you find this pastry is altogether too fragile for your purposes, Paula notes that you can substitute 2 egg whites for the raw egg yolks, which will also make for a crisper crust.
I think I will look around for another tart recipe before I am satisfied--maybe something with a custard--but at least I have found the crust.