Monday, August 27, 2012

PEACH PUFF PASTRY TART (Tarte Fine aux Pêches)


Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. 
– Leonardo da Vinci 

There are few meals that are so spectacular that the memory, the impression left stays with us forever. Meals unique in their originality, quality, flavor; care and attention, a warm, welcoming ambiance add to the meal itself, framing the memory in elegance or glamour, creating something dreamlike, but it is the food that is center stage, the primary element, the leading lady, the meat and potatoes of the narrative. If the food isn’t perfect, nothing will hold the experience in our imagination.

It is a truth universally known that the simplest things are often the best. A slow, lazy Sunday morning in bed with a good book. An evening in with husband and sons just chatting, laughing, dreaming together. A pizza and a movie on a Saturday night. A walk through the vineyards on a sunny morning, hand in hand, dog romping happily around our feet. A little black dress, the only ornament a dab of red lipstick. Three little words. A single band of gold. Nothing gaudy, nothing complicated, just focusing on the basic, unpretentious beauty and simplicity of the best. Pure, simple pleasure.

The simplest things are often the truest. 
– Richard Bach 

Take food, for example. A few, simple ingredients, fresh, seasonal, of the highest quality, make the best dish. Pasta tossed simply with ripe sweet tomatoes, fragrant basil, a drizzle of olive oil and the gentle bite of garlic create a stunning meal. A chicken, cooked to perfection, the meat tender, flavorful, the skin crispy, golden brown, roasted with nothing more than salt and pepper, maybe a handful of herbs from the garden or the surprise of lemon, is heaven itself. Bread still warm from the oven slathered with butter and a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or peanut butter smeared on warm toast, what could be simpler and what could be better? Or a classic jambon-beurre, a single slice of ham and a lick of pure, creamery butter on warm baguette. The perfect, dense, gooey brownie, no adornment necessary.

One of my most memorable meals was simplicity itself. A romantic getaway on the coast, an afternoon and a night at the Hôtel Anne de Bretagne in La Plaine sur Mer left an indelible mark. Elegant white surroundings, a view of the wild late-summer ocean, crisp table cloths, crystal and china lending sophistication and charm, the evening meal for two promised to be special. A warm bowl of thick chunks of crabmeat in a creamy fennel chaud-froid with a layer of shellfish gelée was a stupendous starter. But astonished I was to discover that the main course was unforgettable as simple as it was: tiny lamb chops, no bigger than the palm of my hand from top to bottom, grilled to perfection; tender baby vegetables, miniature carrots and leeks, slender asparagus gently steamed and laid out delicately across the plate in a light sauce like a breath of flavor. The high quality of the ingredients needed nothing more than the hand of a great chef to create such an incredible dish so full of flavor. And the final applause, the exquisite finale to this astounding meal was, well, so simple it took my breath away. A tarte fine. A paper-thin round of just-crisp puff pastry topped with swirls of paper-thin apple slices, delicate and sweet, and brushed with a hint of jam. Nothing could have been better, unadorned purity, perfection embodied in the simplest of desserts.

Simplicity is the glory of expression. 
– Walt Whitman 

And that perfect tarte fine has stayed with me, making me dream, and I have longed to recreate something so wonderful. Our boulangère fills the glass case of her bakery with seasonal tarts, great rounds of puff pastry topped with layers of apples or chunks of peaches and dabbed with glistening jellies and I ogle each one, scolding these delicacies for taunting and teasing me each time I walk in for our daily baguette. And I have decided that it was finally time for me to create my own with summer’s ripe, sugary, juicy peaches, abundant this year and sweeter than usual. I had spent a lovely afternoon joyously rolling out my own puff pastry and all I needed to do was dash to the market early and choose the fruit.

As simple as….pie.

TARTE FINE AUX PÊCHES (Peach Puff Pastry Tart)

Using very good quality store bought puff pastry or homemade using this recipe and these directions, simply weigh out a round of puff pastry – I cut mine out with a large ring mold – and roll it out gently on a floured work surface; do not push the rolling pin, rather gently and lightly roll back and forth, take your time so as to neither compact the pastry or distort the circle. Turn the circle of dough around and around after each stroke of the rolling pin in order to create a circle.

Puff pastry
Unsalted butter (7 or 8 g – ½ Tbs), softened
1 Tbs granulated brown or white sugar

For a tart about 22 cm (8 ½ inches) in diameter use about 250 - 300 g (9 - 10 oz) puff pastry. This serves 4 to 6 guests depending upon how hungry they are and if the tart is served with a scoop of ice cream or not. Use about 3 ripe peaches. 

Feel free to use more puff pastry and more peaches for a larger tart. The tart is freeform so all you need for a bigger tart is a larger baking tray.

Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 2 – 3 mm (not more than 1/8 inch). You can leave the edges a bit thicker. Place the round of dough on a parchment paper-lined baking tray larger than the tart (the butter and juices may run a bit), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Note: towards the end of the baking, you will need to turn the oven up to 200°C (400°F) in order to brown the edges of the pastry.

Lightly brush the puff pastry with some of the softened butter, all the way to the edge of the dough. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Slice the peaches into thin slices and place them in a concentric circle on the dough, overlapping the slices slightly, but leaving about ½ to 1 inch free all the way around (do not place the peach slices to the edge). Dot the rest of the butter over the peach and sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the fruit slices and the edge of dough.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 – 40 minutes. If the puff pastry is not yet golden and puffed all the way around, simply turn the heat up to 200°C (400°F) and watch the tart carefully so it browns without burning.

Remove from the oven and dust with powdered/confectioner’s sugar just before serving.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A fabulous tart! So tempting and divine looking.

I am an advocate of simplicity too (as you already might have guessed...). When the ingredients used are good, then there's no need to complicate things.



Robin | what-about-the-food said...

oh every so delectable ... and you made your own puff pastry. Love it and the simple memorable things that connect life, love and beauty. Thank you Jamie!

Robin | what-about-the-food said...

oh every so delectable ... and you made your own puff pastry. Love it and the simple memorable things that connect life, love and beauty. Thank you Jamie!

Lora said...

We all get caught up in this complicated life - simplicity often slips through the cracks. This post resonated with those delicious, yes simple moments we all should take more time to savor. Gorgeous tart!

Lisa said...

Simplicity is the best, but also the most difficult because every facet must be perfect. You can hide mistakes in long, drawn out complicated recipes..well, to a limit! This peach tart is perfection! Of course I love that you made your own puff pastry :)

Helene Dsouza said...

I have never tried making a tart with puff pastry. My mum and grandma taught me to use pate brisee. Most probably I must have tasted a tart made with puff pastry before, just that I dont remember it. I am keen to try it out for myself.

Your tart looks wonderful. I am craving peaches!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

How are you finding time to bake such a glorious tart with all of the renovation work you are doing in your new kitchen? On my best days, I could not bake a tart as beautiful as this!

marla said...

A stunning tart!

A Canadian Foodie said...

Like a peach pizza! BUT WAYYYYY better. Gorgeous photos. I have bookmarked the page to read with my coffee in the am.
I know it will be great company while my husband is at work!

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez said...

Oh, I so have to agree with this message - simplicity is glorious when executed and enjoyed with love. That sounds like the perfect meal...and this tart is just calling my name. It's beautiful.

Soma said...

call it simple, call it delicious, call it a work of art. Love it Jamie, whatever way you say it! Have to make us one, before summer is gond.

Cake Duchess said...

I am all for simplicity. Simple is for me wonderful and often, very delicious! Like this tart-delicate crust and a luscious fruit. perfetto!xx

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

Apart from making the pastry, how simple and beautiful is this dessert? My French grandmothers cooked like this all the time (they made their own pastry - clever like you) and their desserts always looked amazing. They'd always say, "it was nothing!" We knew better.

Anh said...

This tart is so nice and your way of simplicity speaks to my heart. Totally, totally agree.

thelittleloaf said...

This looks beautifully simple and utterly perfect. As are the words that accompany it. Gorgeous post.

Kitchen Vignettes said...

This is absolute perfection! How beautiful.

Hyosun Ro said...

So simple yet beautiful! Pinned it to make it soon before peaches are gone.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

This is more than simple - it's spectacular Jamie. Fabulous, fabulous photos of the tart.

bunkycooks said...

Your tart is beautiful! We are just weeks away from moving into apple season here (and I have seen them already!), so I need to make this before all the peaches are gone. It is sad to see the end of summer, but this tart is a nice send off.

Jamie said...

@Bunkycooks: Gwen, next up? This same tart made with paper-thin slices of autumn apples!!

Jill @ MadAboutMacarons said...

Jamie, this is simply stunning! Nothing to beat fresh and delicious like this. I'm just back from our local patisserie and they're charging a fortune for tarts like this with apples and a choice between.... fresh apricots or tinned? (same price!) Gosh, they didn't have any of this peach heaven!

Dewi said...

Simplicity is the best, and I always adore fruit tart, and find it pretty irresistible.

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

I'm a big believer in beauty being found in simplicity as well. It's the simple things we long for and remember best.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Oh yes the simple things in life are the ones we cherish and remember the most. Love peaches and this is a quick dessert to whip up - even on a weeknight!

Nuts about food said...

You do make it look as easy as pie... although pie isn't as easy for all of us. Hehe

Jeanne said...

Love the Richard Bach quite (he's a long-time favourite of mine) and the post. I remember having crab linguine on Burano island in Venice which was utterly simple but utterly fresh and as breathtaking as the meal you describe. Have a soft spot for tartes fine and yours looks awesome!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...