Peach tarts are wonderful desserts, containing an excellent balance of buttery rich crust and tart fruit flavor. There are hundreds of different recipes for peach tarts, ranging from rustic, thick crust varieties to airy confections that could pass for art. Understanding a few basic baking tips can help make a peach tart raise from the simply tasty to the divine, as well as prevent baking disasters.
Tarts are similar to pies, but feature a single, open crust. Sometimes filled with creams and mixed ingredients, tarts are a popular way to incorporate fresh, seasonal fruit into a dessert. A peach tart should generally be made when peaches are in season, as this will create the most flavorful dish. Depending on the region, there may be fresh peaches available from late spring until early summer.
A peach tart recipe may require a partially or pre-baked crust. This is an important step, since the amount of time required to cook the fruit filling without scorching or browning may not be enough to fully cook the crust. Some experts recommend filling a pie shell with pie weights, small weighted balls, during pre-baking in order to prevent the crust from bubbling or cracking. This can also be accomplished by greasing a second pie tin and laying it inside the pie shell to hold the baking crust down.
How the fruit is sliced will make a great difference to how the finished product looks. Slicing peaches uniformly will help ensure that they all bake to the same level, as well as making them easier to layer into the tart shell. To make an elegant tart, peel the peach and remove the stone, then slice the peach into equal halves with the cut side down. Using a sharp knife, cut each half into segments by using touching the middle of the knife blade to the middle of the peach, then drawing the knife down and backward. For rustic tarts, leave peaches unpeeled and simple slice into relatively even chunks.
Though a peach tart may be simple perfection, don't be afraid to jazz recipes up with a few additions. Soak peaches in a quick bath of fragrant alcohol before baking, such as frangipane or light rum. Contrast the rich taste of the peach with another flavor by adding in blueberries, figs, or even rhubarb. Consider adding some depth to the taste with judicious applications of cinnamon, cloves, or vanilla bean.
A peach tart may be mixed with a cream, custard, or cheese base to make a more dynamic dessert. For a lower fat version of a custard tart, try using fat-free ricotta cheese whipped with vanilla extract and topped with peaches and a honey drizzle. Use a base of rich marzipan and scatter almond slices atop perfectly cut peaches for a refined dessert.