Although I love making puff pastry (or croissants for that matter), I tend to struggle to find the patience for it – I don’t mind doing a lot of work in one go, but I often get bored when it comes to the lengthy waits involved… So I need to be in the right mood to get started, but it makes it all feel worthwhile when I taste the hot, buttery, flaky pastry fresh from the oven – it’s such a rewarding moment :)
I had bookmarked some of the dishes from Essence by David Everitt-Matthias – a beautiful book with many interesting recipes. (Although I must say that there are quite a few ingredients you can’t easily find even in the UK. Oh and Joycelyn created a gorgeous chocolate délice from this book here) I wanted to use the puff pastry for his fig tatin with browned butter ice-cream and burnt orange syrup – and I have tried making it – the browned butter ice-cream was delicious, the caramel and rich butter flavour was somewhat addictive and it certainly made me hopeful for the final dessert. Then I made the fig tatin – when I peered into the oven, the rich caramel bubbling down from the side of the ramekins, looked enticing and smelt lovely. But when I actually tasted it, my initial thought was just ‘OK’... maybe my execution wasn’t good enough, but I wasn’t that mad about it, especially the slightly soggy texture.
I still had some pastry dough left, so I moved onto a simpler recipe using my all time favourite fruit, peaches. I adapted a tart recipe that I found in Elle à Table Japan (issue 32) and I was happy with the result, another summery dessert for our non-summer here in the UK…!
I made a similar peach tart last summer – in that recipe, peaches are poached in spicy syrup and baked with the pastry. I love both of of them, but this one is slightly ‘juicier’ especially if you serve the peaches in halves (pictured above) rather than smaller slices.
For the pastry cream, I added some crème fraîche into the custard this time, but you can serve as it is if you would rather, or add mascarpone, ricotta etc. You can use other stone fruit instead of peaches too. For the pastry, make sure to use best quality butter you can find. If your dough gets too soft to handle, don’t carry on, you don’t want the butter to melt out of the pastry – chill in the fridge for a while before continuing. I adapted the pastry recipe from the Eric Kayser book – I’ve tried some other tarts from this book and they have turned out lovely. I’ll try to write more next time.
Vanilla poached white peach tart
For the puff pastry
240g unsalted butter
1 tsp white wine vinegar
250g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
For the peaches
4-5 white peaches
180g caster sugar
150ml white wine
150ml rosé wine
1 vanilla pod (cut lengthwise and seeds scraped out)
For the pastry cream
50g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod (cut lengthwise and seeds scraped out)
2 egg yolks
10g plain flour
10g corn flour
For the puff pastry, melt 50g of the butter and cool. In a food processor, sieve in the flour, salt, melted butter, vinegar and water then mix thoroughly (but don’t overmix it). Roughly shape into a rectangular block, cover with cling film and rest for an hour or so in the fridge (or you can leave overnight).
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle (about 7-8 mm thick). Place the remaining butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll into a rectangle slightly smaller than two thirds of the dough. Place the butter on the dough, leaving one third of the dough free; fold this third onto the butter, and fold the other end of the dough (with the butter) on top. Be sure all the edges are sealed and that the butter is completely enclosed.
Roll the dough out into a long strip of about 7-8 mm thickness. As before, fold one third of the strip into the middle, then the other end on top of that. Roll into a strip again, at 90 degrees to the original strip; fold again as above and cover with cling film then chill for an hour.
Repeat the above procedure twice more, so that the pastry has been rolled and folded a total of six times. The pastry is now ready (after chilling another hour) to roll out and use as you need to (you can freeze this for later use).
For the poached peaches, place the sugar, both types of wine, vanilla seeds (with pod) and water in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes on a gentle heat.
Cut a small cross in the bottom the peaches and cook in the syrup for 7-8 minutes, making sure to turn them so they cook evenly. Take out the peaches from the pan, and peel the skins when cool. Simmer the syrup down to two thirds of its original volume.
For the pastry cream, place the milk, half the sugar and vanilla seeds (with pod) in a pan then bring to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar in a bowl, then sieve both types of flour into the yolk mixture and lightly mix.
Take the vanilla pod out from the pan and pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture (keep stirring!). Sieve this custard back into the pan and put on a medium-high heat, constantly stirring until it thickens enough to bubble (it’s important to do this quickly, if you cook the mixture too long the gluten becomes too thick). Remove from the heat and place the pan into the ice-cold water to stop it cooking further.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Roll the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of 2-3 mm (always make sure to use as little flour as possible), rest for a half an hour in the fridge.
Cut into your desired shapes (I used shallow round tart cases this time). Cut some baking paper to fit the bases of the tarts and weigh down with ceramic baking beans to stop the base rising.
Bake for about 10 minutes, carefully remove the baking paper (and beans) then bake another 6-7 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Mix some crème fraîche into the custard. Spoon into the tart cases, place the peaches on top, then pour over the wine syrup. Serve immediately.