Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Peach Tarte Tatin!

The delicate scent of peaches and their vibrant flavor are a quintessential summer experience. When in season I can't have enough fresh peaches, but I love the freshness and depth of flavor they impart to desserts. As the peach season is coming to an end, I wanted to use one of my favorite fruits in an easy yet delicious recipe!
This recipe started building up in my head a while ago, but at first I had a different idea than what I eventually did. I am pleased that I changed my mind!

As my recipe is a tarte, I had to think first of the crust. I thought about using my usual go-to galette recipe but then I read somewhere that cream cheese added to the galette dough makes it more delicious and flaky. I did just that and was quite pleased with the result.
I was planning on using a different stone fruit, but I ended up using peaches.
I had also bought beautiful thyme and lavender plants, so I wanted to experiment with these 2 flavors.

The technique I used for assembling the tarte is different from the method I usually use. I adopted the technique of a famous French chef called Christophe Michalak. I watched him make a classic apple tarte tatin but instead of placing the uncooked apples in the pan directly, he cooked them before with some butter, which made it much easier to assemble the fruits and pack them tightly so they won't shrink after cooking. His technique is really worth the extra effort as you get a much nicer tarte once flipped.

And now let's start with the crust!

For the crust you need:
  • 400 g pastry flour
  • 200 g cold butter and cut into small cubes
  • 40 g cold cream cheese
  • 20 g sugar
  • 4 to 6 tbsp of ice water (or as needed)
The amount used here is for 2x 18 cm tart, I used half and froze the rest!
To get a flaky and delicious crust you need to work with  ingredients that are really cold. I start by mixing the dry ingredients in the food processor and place the container in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes. You can omit this step, I have done so in the past and have gotten very good results, but it is worth the time investment as the dough will be even more crumbly and flaky when all ingredients are cold. 

Take out the ingredients from the freezer, add the butter and the cream cheese to the flour mix and pulse for about 30 sec to one min maximum. Then add the icy cold water, one tbsp at a time. This is where you need to be careful not to add too much water and not to overwork your dough. Once the dough just barely comes together stop mixing. It is acceptable if the dough does not come together in a single ball, that's not the aim.

Now, line a clean working surface with cling film (or aluminum foil if you prefer), remove the dough from the food processor onto the cling film. Work the dough slightly with your hands so it comes together and shape it into a disk. Cover it with the cling film and place it in the fridge for at least an hour. It is better if you prepare the dough one day ahead, which is what I usually do.

The amount of water that you will add depends on the quality of the flour and the water contained in the butter. Don't be tempted to put more water as the dough might seem dry at first, but when it rests in the fridge, it comes together nicely as the butter is absorbed  by the flour.

For the filling:
  • 500 g peach, cut into wedges
  • 50 g of butter
  • 2 to 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/2 tsp of dried lavender flowers
Combine all the ingredients into a pot and cover it with cold water. Bring it to a gentle simmer, for about 10 min or till the fruits are slightly tender. Make sure not to over cook the peaches. 
Drain and let it them cool.

For the caramel
  • 120 g of sugar
  • 30 g butter
In a small pot, put the sugar and on a gentle heat turn the sugar into a amber caramel, turn off the heat, add the butter, swirl well then cover the bottom of an 18 cm pan with the caramel. 
Once the caramel cools down it hardens so don't worry about that. Now arrange the peaches in the pan.

Roll the dough into an 20 cm disk, cover the pan, and slightly tuck the edges inside to seal the crust with the pan.

Bake in a preheated oven (180C) for about 25-30 min or until the top has turned into a slightly golden brown color.

Take the pan out of the oven, and leave to cool for about 5 min.
Make sure to flip the Tarte Tatin over a big dish, leaving space for the caramel.

Place the dish over the pan, put a kitchen towel on top, and with a quick and secure movement flip it.
The caramel is very liquid at this stage so the tarte will come off easily.
The dough will soak the luscious and fruity caramel; add to that a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy a dreamy and decadent dessert!

Bon appetit!