Free form peach tart

Stone fruit are one of the joys of summer – starting with apricots, which appear at the start of the season, moving through to peaches, nectarines and finishing with plums. My father planted several stone fruit trees in the back garden about 20 years ago and this year, for the first time in about five years, the peach tree is full of fruit. How happy he would have been if he had been alive to see this season’s crop!

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I wrote about peaches in a previous blog post but I recently discovered a recipe for pate sable which is super easy and works beautifully with fruit to make a free form tart. You don’t need a food processor, just very cold butter and fingers that work quickly. And since the pie is free form, you don’t need a special cake tin either – just some baking paper and an oven tray. You can substitute the peaches with other seasonal fruit if you like, particularly stone fruit or berries. I made the tart with blueberries today. You just need to modify the jam you put under the fruit on the pastry base if you use different fruit – for plums I use plum jam and with the blueberry tart I used blackberry jam. It works just as well.

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The buttery crumbly pastry complements the sweetness of ripe peaches beautifully. It is lovely on its own but you can also serve it with some mascarpone or vanilla ice-cream on the side. It is the perfect taste of summer.

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Peach tart

110 g unsalted butter, cold from the fridge cut into slices or small cubes
125g plain flour
30g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold milk or water
2 ripe yellow peaches, sliced into 16 segments
2-3 tablespoons of good quality apricot jam
Extra sugar for sprinkling on the pastry

Place the sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the butter and incorporate using the tines of a fork (or use your fingers as I do). The mixture will be crumbly and don’t worry if there are a few chunks of butter visible – this is a rustic pie. Sprinkle on the salt and milk and knead it a couple of times until the mixture is cohesive. Place the ball of pastry on a sheet of cling wrap. Place a second sheet of cling wrap over the pastry and using the heel of your hand, flatten it. Now use a rolling pin and make a rough circle with the pastry, which will become quite thin – mine had a diameter of about 30cm. Place the pastry in the fridge (still covered by the two sheets of cling film).

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. After 30 minutes in the fridge, remove the pastry. Reshape if needed (it will become pliable very quickly). Transfer to the oven tray which you will have covered with baking paper. Place the jam in a circle on the pastry, leaving an edge of 5 cm. Arrange the segments of peach overlapping each other slightly in an outer circle and then an inner circle so that it looks pretty. Fold in the borders of the tart and pinch them to make sure the juices from the fruit don’t escape during cooking. Scatter some sugar over the pastry on the edges. If the pastry is feeling a bit soft, put the tart in the fridge for a few minutes before baking.

Cook for 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Cool on a wire rack and eat when warm or cold. This tart can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days if well covered in plastic wrap or foil.

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