So, you might remember that every year my family have a Christmas bake-off. You also might remember that I tend to do really badly!
Well, this year, I won!
The win was courtesy of Richard Bertinet’s rosemary infused peach tarts (his book “Pastry” is really, really good!). The light tart shells, the rich almond cream and the poached peaches combined to give a wonderfully well rounded bake. The poaching of the peaches in rosemary, in particular, gave the tart a slight savoury contrast to the sweetness in the rest of the dessert.
Intrigued? Recipe is below!
Recipe (adapted from Richard Bertinet’s book, “Pastry”)
For the almond pastry
- 250 grams flour
- 100 grams ground almonds
- 125 grams cold butter
- 100 grams caster sugar
- 2 medium sized eggs
- a pinch of salt
For the almond cream
- 250 grams softened butter
- 250 grams caster sugar
- 250 grams ground almonds
- 50 grams flour
- 3 eggs
For the poached peaches
- 500 ml of water
- 250 grams caster sugar
- 10 fairly ripe peaches
- 1 sprigs of rosemary (or 1/3 teaspoon of the dried stuff)
For the pastry (make this the night before!):
- Put the cold butter between two sheets of baking parchment and flatten (by bashing) with a rolling pin.
- Put the flour, ground almonds and salt into a mixing bowl
- Place the butter in the flour mixture and cover the butter with the mix
- Using a really light touch place the flour covered butter in your hands and flick your thumbs over the surface so that you are skimming off small bits of butter. In Richard’s book, he describes this as “if you are dealing a pack of cards“
- It is important to remember not to press or squeeze the butter as this will result in a dense pastry. Also, remember to coat all the butter in flour constantly as this will stop the pastry from becoming sticky (if it is sticky now, you are in trouble!)
- Once your have smallish chunks (stop before you reach the infamous “breadcrumb” stage as this means you’ve taken the pastry too far) spread the sugar evenly among the mix
- Tip in the eggs and combine the ingredients. I found that the dough started off quite dry, but if you persist, you will find that the butter will start to melt and the dough will clump together
- Once you have a rough dough, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and lightly knead. The correct technique is described as follows: “press down on the dough with both thumbs, then turn the dough clockwise a few degrees and press down and turn again“.
- You can stop this once the dough is nice and uniform (i.e. no butter streaks)
- Shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap the dough in greaseproof paper. Place in the fridge overnight.
For the Almond Cream
- Beat the butter until very very soft. I found that leaving the butter at room temperature helped make this process easier!
- Add the sugar and ground almonds and combined well
- Add the flour and the eggs and mix until everything is combined
- Place the mixture in the fridge until ready to use
For the poached peaches
- Place the sugar, rosemary and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Immediately lower the hear and simmer until you have a colourless syrup (you should not be able to see the sugar crystals)
- I brought my peaches on Xmas eve and they were rock hard! To speed up the ripening process, I placed the peaches in a paper bag and sealed the bag (this traps the ethylene gas, which ripens fruit)
- Place the washed peaches into the syrup and cook gently for 20 minutes (or until softened).
- Once the peaches are poached, leave to cool in the pan
- Gently peel the cooled peaches. A really light touch is required as the peaches will turn to mush if you press too hard!
- Cut the peaches into quarters and gently remove the stone
- Gently boil down the remaining syrup until it thickens. This will become the glaze
- Generously brush the peach quarters with the rosemary infused syrup
Combining the ingredients
- Place a baking tray in the oven and preheat the oven to gas mark 4
- Grease your tart tins
- Lightly flour a work surface and your rolling pin and roll out your pastry to c.5mm thickness. I found that doing this in batches (i.e. split the original dough into 2 or 3 smaller dough balls) worked best
- Line the tins with the pastry, pressing gently into all the corners
- Pipe (or spoon) the almond cream into the pastry bases. I found that, because the cream is quite rich, you only need to fill the pastry 3/4 of the way up
- Place the filled tart tins into the fridge for 30 minutes. This will help the gluten relax and stop pastry shrinkage!
- Place the tart tins straight onto the baking tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes (or until the tarts are nice and golden)
- Once cooked, leave the tarts to cool down and then remove from the tart tins
- With a skewer, poke holes into the baked almond cream and pour 1/2 a tablespoon of the syrup into each tart
- Place 2 quarter pieces of the glazed peaches over the almond cream and glaze again with the syrup