Some food, some drink.
RecipeBeta: A Rustic Peach Tart Ninety Years in the Making.
Beta recipes are my own experiments that I've only tried once. Usually palatable, they often could be better with a little tweaking - So please do, and let me know what works!
I don't know about you, but if I'm having company over, I feel compelled to bake. And when your ninety-year-old Grandma comes to visit? Well, you wanna do it up right; and you can't get much more right than a pie. I'm also a bit impatient; and when I want pie with less fuss, I turn to the "rustic tart" interpretation of said baked good. This particular tart begins with a whole wheat and all-butter crust that's filled with fresh Colorado peaches seasoned with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. A fitting celebration of my Grandmother's weekend stay!
My grandmother (not that grandmother) recently came up our way to visit for a weekend. Don't tell her I told you, but the woman is ninety years young; and despite her age, she can still get around in the kitchen just fine. All the same, grandma came to visit, not cook; so I poured her a tall cup of coffee, handed her a stack of cookbooks (including some of my favorites) and told her to leave the cooking to me. My glut of Colorado peaches is coming to an end, and all the while, I hadn't had a chance to make a pie. For shame! Because y'know, if someone asks me what to do with a mess of fresh fruit, the first thing out of mouth is almost always "pie".
As my #1 pie crust maker was in Kindergarten that day, I opted to go for something a bit less fussy than pie, and decided instead to make a rustic tart. I absolutely love baking with whole white wheat; and while I'd been looking for an excuse to try a whole wheat variant of a pie crust, I still wanted to see if I couldn't impress my veteran pie-making house guest.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
For the Crust -
Cube up the frozen butter into 1/2 inch chunks. Add the flours, salt, and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 15-20 times or until the largest butter particle is the size of a pea. Add Honey & fl oz of the water. Pulse 5-10 times. Continue to add h2o by the tablespoon & pulse until dough just comes together (It'll be damn near instant; don't over-do it!).
Bring the dough together into a puck approximately 3/4 of an inch thick, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge to rest while the filling is being worked on.
For the Filling -
Peel your peaches (the shock method works well), slice them 1/2 inch thick, and add the demerara sugar, vitamin C, cinnamon, nutmeg, and corn starch. Stir to integrate and let rest for at least 10 mins while the crust is rolled out.
To Finish -
Preheat oven with a baking stone to 375F.
Pull the pie dough from the fridge and fold over into quarters before rolling out about 1/16th of an inch thick onto a piece of parchment (final diameter should be around 13-14 inches). Transfer rolled pie dough (with parchment still underneath) to a pizza peel or the back side of a sheet pan and spoon on the peach mixture to the middle leaving about 2 inches around the edge. Fold the un-fruited dough over the edge in sections about 2 inches long at a go. Beat the egg and water together and brush over the top of the exposed crust (you won't use it all). Garnish with more of the demerara sugar, and transfer the tart (still on the parchment) to the stone to bake for 35 minutes. Let the tart rest for at least a half hour before serving.
- So why a tart, and just not a pie proper? Well, there are a couple of reasons: Firstly, If you're short on fruit, a tart's a great way to go. Because the crust lies flat, you really can't fill it; thus you're using about half the filling versus a pie. Second, shaping and transport are a breeze. Construct your tart on a parchment lined sheet pan, or if you're using a baking stone, build your tart on a piece of parchment set atop a pizza peel. Trust me, either way you go, moving your pie to the oven and back is much less tumultuous than it is with a full pie.
- I attribute Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio for motivating me to make my own pie crusts. Every bit of dough I've rolled over the course of the last three years is a variant based on what I learned in that book. As much as I appreciate a book that tells you how, I've always been a sucker for a book that tells you why.
- I will not hand blend a pie crust. I have no practice doing so, nor do I have any motivation for it; not when a good food processor makes it so easy. As a rule of thumb, I won't use a kitchen appliance or gadget if the total use time involving cleaning exceeds that of it's manual counterpart; and in this case, I'm much better off time-wise scrubbing the bowl and blade of a food processor.
- Another indispensable pie-making tool is a straight rolling pin equipped with spacers. There's no better way to ensure an even thickness and consistent shape for your pie dough (or thin-crust pizza!).
- I'm not gonna make excuses about the lack of volumetric measurements where flour is concerned. A good tart/pie crust depends on a fairly exact measurement, and a good kitchen scale is the only way you'll be assured to get it.
- Vitamin C + sugar = "Fruit Fresh". I want to ensure that my peaches remain vibrant even as they're hit with a mess of heat. As I'm a control freak, I'd rather make the decision as to how much sugar should be added along with my reducing agent, thank you very much.
You know what I like about this rustic tart peach most of all? You can totally f-up the edges of the crust and no one's gonna criticize you; after all with that whole wheat in the dough, ain't no one gonna argue the virtues of this tart's "rusticity". Seriously, if you can Huck Finn someone else into cleaning out the food processor, a rustic tart is just your easiest route to pie-dom; and what's more, we're dealing with a smaller overall portion, so if you live in a house with a bunch of pie-haters and are in the fortunate situation of not having to share much (like me), you're not gonna gain five pounds every time you crave some pie.
The peaches get just as much tastebud time as the crust in this recipe, and as a certified "friend of pie crust", I appreciate that. The nuttiness of the whole wheat pairs perfectly with this all-butter recipe, and because we went easy on the sugar where the fruit is concerned, the fact that we used fresh peaches really comes thru. In the end however, only one thing really matters: Did Grandma approve?
Oh yeah. I put on our second pot of coffee for the occasion (we had a lot to catch up on), and served our rustic peach tart with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Just perfect.